Following a demoralizing loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Monday, the Washington Capitals came into tonight’s game desperate for a win. Rumors floated during the day that a Caps loss would lead to drastic action (read: trades). In what might be called a “character win,” the Caps put in a (mostly) complete effort against the Rangers and were rewarded with two points, leaving them at 18-15-2 on the season.
The Caps opened the scoring halfway through the first period, a rarity for a team that seems to be often going down early as of late. Marcus Johansson pounced on a juicy rebound of a Jeff Halpern shot off Martin Biron, deftly lifting the puck into the open net and giving the Caps a 1-0 lead. Eight minutes later, the Rangers converted their own opportunity, albeit a less lucky one, as Brandon Dubinsky screamed a wrister overtop Tomas Vokoun’s glove, finishing a two-on-one chance.
The second period was all Caps. Washington controlled the tempo of play for the majority of the period, managing sustained periods of activity in the Rangers’ end and increasing the physicality of the game. The later action led directly to the Capitals’ third goal, as Nicklas Backstrom corralled a loose puck after a crushing Alex Ovechkin hit and found a streaking Alex Semin who cashed in a backhand top-shelf past Biron.
The third period was much less high-energy, but the Caps came up big where it counted, killing off two penalties late in the frame to preserve their lead and the win. Alex Semin added his second goal with under three minutes remaining to put the game out of reach for the visitors from New York.