Igor Shesterkin benched, Rangers struggles persist in 6-3 blowout loss to Capitals

Rangers fall to Washington 6-3
Washington Capitals right wing Tom Wilson (43) celebrates his goal with teammates during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the New York Rangers, Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
AP Photos

New York Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant has brought up the idea that the team’s recent slide has been due to the team’s roster being in limbo with the latest conversations surrounding Patrick Kane. 

Without a trade for Kane completed, and a key major injury, the short-handed Blueshirts were overwhelmed in all facets Saturday afternoon, losing to the rival Capitals in a 6-3 blowout for their fourth-straight loss. 

Since the team’s seven-game winning streak, the Rangers have struggled to build early leads in games. That persisted Saturday afternoon when TJ Oshie deflected a shot past Igor Shesterkin for an early lead for the Caps. 

Things quickly went from bad to worse for New York. Carrying just 21 skaters due to roster moves for Vitali Kravtsov and Jake Leschyshyn, along with multiple injuries to key players, the Ranger struggled to find ways to keep up with the physical Capitals. Ryan Lindgren crashed into the boards midway through the first period and did not return. Filip Chytil, after being slashed in the groin area, did return to the ice later.

Still, Lindgren’s absence, as it has all season, plagued New York for the rest of the contest. Coming out for the second period, Oshie netted his second goal of the game which was followed by an offensive avalanche from Tom Wilson, Sonny Milano, and Kuznetsov. Washington struck for four goals, multiple coming off the breakaway in the second period, and gave them an overwhelming 5-1 advantage after two periods of play and chased Sheserkin from the contest. 

After losing six straight games and coming off a trade that sent veteran players away to Boston in a sign of a transition, the Capitals responded in a major way Saturday night against the Rangers’ short-handed staff.

The two teams would trade goals in the final period, with Chris Kreider netting his 25th of the season on the powerplay, but shortly being answered by Kuznetsov for the second time of the day. 

The loss drops New York to 33-17-9 on the year and will be back on the ice Sunday evening against the LA Kings at Madison Square Garden.

Game Notes

  • In order to make room for a potential Patrick Kane trade, the Rangers placed Jake Leschyshyn on waivers to give themselves more cap room to facilitate a trade. 
  • Jaroslav Halak played the entire third period in replacement for Shesterkin. The reigning Vezina winner had his 6th straight game where he did not record a save percentage of 90+%.
  • While the game was entering the final period, the Rangers and Vancouver Canucks agreed on a trade that sent Vitali Kravtsov to Vancouver in exchange for William Lockwood and a seventh-round pick in 2026. The move, along with the Leschyshyn waiver, leaves the Rangers with the necessary cap space to acquire Kane in a future deal. 

For more New York Rangers news, turn to AMNY.com