It’s here. Game 82. The Washington Capitals opened their season against the New York Rangers back in October, and both teams close out their regular seasons tonight. The season series is tied, with the Caps winning 5-1 on October 13 and the Rangers winning 4-1 on February 24. Let’s see who takes the game and the regular season series tonight.
Coach Laviolette put the forward lines in a bit of a blender at Madison Square Garden:
Capitals lines against NYR:— Samantha Pell (@SamanthaJPell) April 29, 2022
*No Ovechkin (upper body), Backstrom (maintenance)
Connor McMichael draws into the lineup as Nicklas Backstrom takes a body maintenance day in preparation for the playoffs next week, and Alex Ovechkin continues to be day-to-day with an upper body injury. Ilya Samsonov is in net for Washington tonight, and Alexandar Georgiev is in net for New York. Additionally, the Rangers are missing Artemi Panerin and Andrew Copp from their lineup.
Final game of the regular season, let’s go folks.
Here’s Friday night’s Plus/Minus:
Plus: This was an encouraging performance from the Caps after two awful outings against the Islanders this week. Hopefully, this points to better postseason play.
Minus: Even-strength play might have looked better than it did earlier this week, but special teams still left a lot to be desired tonight.
And now, congrats on 900 career NHL games, Oshbabe!
Nine more notes on the game:
1. The most interesting thing that happened in the first half of the first period was actually elsewhere in the NHL: PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh. If the Penguins take at least one point against the Blue Jackets tonight, the outcome of the Caps/Rangers game does not matter and the Caps will face the Panthers in Round 1. The Penguins went up 3-0 just 6:26 into their game, sending pretty strong Miami vibes the Capitals’ way.
2. Evgeny Kuznetsov took a high-sticking penalty at 10:54 of the first. In case you’ve missed it, Washington’s penalty kill has been abysmal this week. Thankfully, the Caps’ penalty kill did not need to put in a full two minutes of work. Lars Eller had a great shorthanded breakaway chance with about 25 seconds left on New York’s power play, but Frank Vatrano kept him from making much of it with a slashing penalty. Eller argued that he should have been awarded a penalty shot, but the call resulted in some 4-on-4 hockey before an abbreviated Capitals’ power play.
3. More 4-on-4 hockey! With 4:14 left in the first, Nic Dowd and Ryan Lindgren took matching roughing minors. Lindgren took exception to a heavy hit from Garnet Hathaway, so he took revenge by hitting Hathaway where it hurt: tackling BFF and podcast buddy Nic Dowd. It really should have just been Lindgren going to the box here, but apparently you can now get penalized for being tackled in the NHL. Hey, you learn something new every day! Here’s the whole sequence:
love garny noticing dowd is tangled up and immediately turning around to help him pic.twitter.com/MMHyWVFlBw— noah hockey stick emoji (@capsboybebop) April 29, 2022
4. Just 27 seconds into the middle frame, Patrik Nemeth was called for holding on Garnet Hathaway. Commence a dreaded special teams moment for the Capitals…yeah, it was about as lackluster as you’d expect.
5. Filip Chytil made it 1-0 3:26 into the second after snagging the puck from a falling Nick Jensen and squeaking the puck past Ilya Samsonov, who did not completely seal the post. Woof. However, Justin Schultz answered back with a goal of his own on the next shift, just 35 seconds after Chytil’s goal. The Rangers couldn’t clear the puck, and Trevor van Riemsdyk made a great play that got the puck to Schultz in the right circle.
Schultzyyyyy— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) April 30, 2022
Tie game in the big !! pic.twitter.com/HdkZEMf47l
This bar-down shot was Schultz’s fourth goal of the season. TvR recorded the primary assist on the tally, which sets a new single-season career high in points with 17.
6. A…Washington Capitals goal? And on the power play? Seems fake, but it isn’t! It came on an absolute bomb of a slapshot from John Carlson, who had all the room in the world to wind up and take his shot right above the right circle. All of a sudden, the score is 2-1 Caps at 5:13 of the second.
Thunderous from Carly pic.twitter.com/v53JK6HZUN— x - Washington Capitals (@Capitals) April 30, 2022
By the way, this happened after that goal:
Please note Nicklas Backstrom in the background.
7. Alexis Lafreniere tied things back up with 4:16 remaining in the second after a goof from John Carlson. Lafreniere and Ryan Strome got a 2-on-1 going at the top of the Washington zone, pulling off an admittedly beautiful give-and-go that ended in a Lafreniere goal.
8. Dryden Hunt (and yes, we looked it up just to double check, that is indeed a Real Person) restored New York’s lead 6:42 into the third. He completely faked out Samsonov with a backhand-forehand move on the goal line, giving himself a wide-open net to shoot at. 3-2 Rangers.
9. By far the only third period highlight that matters:
The KING is in the house! pic.twitter.com/x9MYnJWCXj— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) April 30, 2022
Up next for the Caps: a trip to Miami to kick off a Round 1 matchup with the Florida Panthers.