Coming off a shootout victory on Thursday night in Philadelphia the New York Rangers continued their road trip, outplaying the Capitals in Washington. After coming out flat in the first period against Philly, the Rangers were the opposite to start this game. The Rangers and Capitals played a back and forth during the first period with lots of action but the Rangers were able to strike first. On their second power play of the game Ryan Strome set up Artemi Panarin for a one-timer and Chris Kreider cleaned up the rebound. The second period was a similar back and forth battle until there were around two minutes left. The two teams combined for three goals in the final 2:16 of the second period, the Rangers leading 3-1 after two. An empty netter in the 3rd period gave the Rangers a 4-1 lead over the Capitals.
Special Teams Remain A Huge Asset For the Rangers
The Rangers’ special teams once again were the huge high point for them. New York scored a power-play goal in the first period to get the team on the board. While the Rangers’ power play hasn’t been outstanding finishing this year, they now have goals in back-to-back games. The power play has had tons of good looks over their last handful of games even if they haven’t finished on all of them. In the game, the Rangers’ power play was one-for-five and had several shots and good chances. The Rangers’ penalty kill has been truly dominant over their last 32 chances. They have allowed just one goal in those 32 chances. They’ve been really good at stopping opposing teams from entering the zone and getting shots. In this game specifically the Rangers penalty kill thwarted all four Capitals power plays.
Rangers Face-Off Improvement
Another thing the Rangers have done well over the last two games is win face-offs. The importance of face-offs is often overlooked, but is very important. In the game against the Flyers, the Rangers won 54.8% of face-offs in the game and won in the shootout. In this game against the Capitals, the Rangers won 57.1% of face-offs and really dominated possession in the later periods. This proved important as the Rangers killed off a late power play and scored on the empty net to get their fourth goal.
Players Getting The Monkey Off Their Backs
Mika Zibanejad scored the empty netter to finally get the monkey off his back. That Zibanejad goal will hopefully get him going as this was just his second goal in his 16th game. If Zibanejad gets going the Rangers’ offense really gets a huge boost. The Ranger defense has been an unexpected high point thanks to coach Jacques Martin, but the offense has not been great. The Rangers have been shutout three times already in 17 games. For reference, the team was shutout zero times in the 2019-20 season. A few other Rangers also got monkeys off their backs against the Capitals. Alexis Lafrenière scored his second NHL goal, and first in eight games. Chris Kreider notched his fifth goal of the season and his first in six games. Strome’s goal was his fifth of the year and first after a five-game goal drought.
The Rangers, off a big win after outplaying the Capitals, will have three days off before meeting the Flyers on Wednesday. With a two-game win streak on the line, the Rangers look to play another solid defensive game. Hopefully, the Rangers will get Kaapo Kakko back in the lineup off the covid list. It would be huge for the Rangers to win a third game in a row and get back to the .500 mark for the year. It’s very likely there won’t be any lineup changes heading into Wednesday. Igor Shesterkin should be right back in net for the Rangers. That game in Philadelphia will conclude the three-game road trip for the Rangers.