What should not to be lost in the midst of Alex Ovechkin’s 10th career hat trick against the Toronto Maple Leafs Saturday night is the performance of rookie goaltender Braden Holtby. The rookie, who started and won the last two games in place of injured Semyon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth, has been very impressive, only allowing one goal in each contest and making acrobatic saves when needed. It will be very interesting to see how he performs against a Rangers team that ranks much higher in the Eastern Conference than the Maple Leafs and New York Islanders.
The Capitals, who are accustomed to being in the upper echelon of the league in offense, rank 14th in the league in goals forced and are hoping Ovechkin’s hat trick will jump-start an offensive resurgence for an otherwise slow season for the two-time NHL MVP.
Nicklas Backstrom, who has also been in an offensive slump as of late, hopes his goal against the Islanders on Thursday night, his first in his previous 22 games played, will return him to regular form. With 33 games left, he is currently 21 goals shy of his total from last season.
1st Period Overview:
The Capitals had plenty of scoring chances early on in the period such as Jay Beagle’s decision to skate wide left and not shooting instead of crashing the net. Through the first half of the period, both teams combined for only two shots.
To no one’s surprise, Sean Avery exchanged words with Mike Knuble behind the Capitals net around the eight minute mark. There was nothing to come of it but it will be interesting to see if Matt Hendricks or D.J. King take issue with Avery as the night goes on.
Avery and Beagle also exchanged words as the period ended and both teams were leaving the ice.
Both teams had one power play opportunity and were obviously unable to score on both chances. This game has been all defense so far.
Faceoffs Won: NYR – 7 WAS – 11
Hits: NYR – 9 WAS – 12
Shots on Goal: NYR – 7 WAS – 5
Goals: NYR – 0 WAS – 0
2nd Period Overview:
Matt Hendricks notched his 7th goal of the season by tapping in the assist from Marcus Johansson and Scott Hannan over Martin Biron’s right shoulder. 1-0 Caps after 1:27 into the second period.
Both teams are more aggressive crashing the net this period with Holtby seeing most of the action early on. The Caps offense turned up the heat as the period went on but appeared very indecisive with the puck at time, especially during their second power play of the game in the 15th minute.
The Capitals announced tonight’s game as the 87th consecutive sellout.
Faceoffs Won: NYR – 6 WAS – 9
Hits: NYR – 7 WAS – 10
Shots on Goal: NYR – 11 WAS – 6
Goals: NYR – 0 WAS – 1
3rd Period Overview:
The refs are not making themselves popular with the Verizon Center crowd tonight. First, a couple of questionable penalties were not called on the Rangers early on in the game. Then, Ovechkin was called for a two-minute diving penalty when it appeared he was held, eliciting a barrage of boos from the home crowd. After that, the fans didn’t let up on the refs after one official unintentionally stopped the progress of a Capital trying to move the puck.
With 6:41 left, the Rangers got on the scoreboard with Marian Gaborik’s 16th goal of the season. The goal was under review as it had touched Gaborik’s glove before entering the net. When it was ruled a goal, the call endeared the refs to the fans even less.
Faceoffs Won: NYR – 8 WAS – 11
Hits: NYR – 6 WAS – 7
Shots on Goal: NYR – 10 WAS – 6
Goals: NYR – 1 WAS – 0
Faceoffs Won: NYR – 3 WAS – 1
Hits: NYR – 1 WAS – 1
Shots on Goal: NYR – 1 WAS – 6
Goals: NYR – 0 WAS – 0
– Shootout attempt by Alex Ovechkin SAVED by Martin Biron
– Shootout GOAL scored by Wojtek Wolski on Braden Holtby
– Shootout GOAL scored by Matt Hendricks on Martin Biron
– Shootout GOAL scored by Mats Zuccarello on Braden Holtby
– Shootout GOAL scored by Nicklas Backstrom on Martin Biron
– Shootout attempt by Brian Boyle MISSES wide of net
– Shootout attempt by Marcus Johansson SAVED by Martin Biron
– Shootout GOAL scored by Artem Anisimov on Braden Holtby