The New York Rangers came in winners of five in a row, but for the second time in eight days the Caps ended an opponent’s five game winning streak beating the Rangers 4-1. The Caps are 6-6-1 under Dale Hunter and are 10-0-0 when leading after two periods.
The Rangers though are 17-1-1 when scoring the first goal, so it was pivotal the Caps got on the board first, and they did in the first when Marcus Johansson stole the puck, dropped it to Jeff Halpern who shot it, and Johansson put in the rebound for his seventh of the season and gave the Caps a 1-0 lead. The Rangers came back later in the period when a John Carlson shot from the point was blocked by Ryan Callahan starting a 2 on 1 breakaway when Carlson fell down. Brandon Dubinsky beat Tomas Vokoun with a hard slapper and tied the game up. The Caps out shot the Rangers 9-8 in the period and it was all tied at one heading to the second.
“Getting the first goal and getting the lead is huge in this league,” Capitals Head Coach Dale Hunter said. “We came out playing the right way and the guys put together a good 60 minutes.”
The second periods for the Caps have been pretty bad this season, but not tonight as the Caps did everything they can to end the Rangers five game winning streak. First John Carlson shot it from the point through traffic and it was deflected in by Troy Brouwer who put himself right in front screening Martin Biron. Just under three minutes later Alex Ovechkin nailed Brad Richards causing him to lose the puck and Nicklas Backstrom picked it up finding Alexander Semin on a semi-breakaway who then beat Biron back handed to give the Caps a 3-1 lead heading to the third.
In the third, Alexander Semin iced it with his second of the game and ninth of the season beating Biron high with just under three minutes remaining. The Caps penalty kill came up big in the period killing to big penalties in the final nine minutes.
“That was a very important game for us especially when we lose that kind of game in Buffalo,” Capitals Captain Alex Ovechkin said.
Ovechkin had two assists on the night and has been critical in helping Semin heat up. Semin has four goals and two assists in his last five games.
The Caps also out hit the Rangers 22 to 15 led by Ovechkin and Matt Hendricks who each had four. Hendricks had his four hits in only 6:44 of ice time. Capitals forward Troy Brouwer, who is one of the top hitters on the Caps, had only one on the night, but was happy with the physical effort the team showed tonight.
“When you play tough, when you play hard, it makes it tough for the other team to create anything,” Brouwer said.
Goalie Tomas Vokoun, who started his first game in 15 days, had 31 saves in the victory. Vokoun did though stop 16 in relief of Michal Neuvirth Monday in Buffalo and had some rhythm coming into this one.
“I felt better as the game went on,” Vokoun said. “I was just trying to play the right way and help the guys win the games.”
“He [Vokoun] played well tonight, you know they got a lot of good snipers over there and he had to be sharp,” Hunter added. “When they did get in he made some big stops for us.”
Alex Ovechkin had two assists on the night and had his first multi-point streak since November fourth. It was also Alexander Semin’s first multi-goal game since February 16th.
The Capitals look for their second win in a row and some revenge as the Buffalo Sabres come to town on Thursday. The Caps have been outscored by a combined 9-3 in their two road losses against the Sabres this season.
Check out what Dale Hunter, Alex Ovechkin, Jeff Halpern, Troy Brouwer & Tomas Vokoun had to say following the win.
Locker Room Video (Ovechkin, Halpern, Brouwer, Vokoun)
Dale Hunter Postgame Video
1st 8:18 Johansson (7), Halpern (7)
2nd 10:24 Brouwer (10), Carlson (17)
2nd 13:02 Semin (8), Backstrom (24), Ovechkin (14)
3rd 17:25 Semin (9), Ovechkin (15), Alzner (10)
Dale Hunter Postgame Audio
Alex Ovechkin Postgame Audio
Jeff Halpern Postgame Audio
Troy Brouwer Postgame Audio
Tomas Vokoun Postgame Audio