Rangers jump out to hot start, hang on to outlast Alex Ovechkin-less Capitals in 5-3 contest

Rangers beat Washington 5-3
Washington Capitals goaltender Darcy Kuemper (35) skates away as the New York Rangers celebrate a goal by Mika Zibanejad during the first period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, March 14, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
AP Photos

Even without Alexander Ovechkin Tuesday night, the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers had plenty to battle over with the Stanley Cup Playoffs just a month away. 

The Rangers jumped on the wounded Capitals early and eventually held on to end their 12-game regulation win drought by a 5-3 final. 

“It was much better than the previous games.” Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant stated. “That first period was outstanding. 

New York came out firing on all cylinders in the first period with 19 shots in the first frame. Each line brought offensive chances early but it was the Panarin-Zibanejad-Tarasenko line that generated much of the offensive production. 

Early in the first a give-and-go play from Tarasenko to Zibanejad gave the Rangers an early lead. Then, mere seconds after the Capitals tied the game, Panarin and Zibanejad teamed up for a star-studded goal that got the hometown MSG crowd on their feet. A late Patrick Kane, powerplay goal gave the Blueshirts a 3-1 edge after one and had the team buzzing. 

“We played well, dew a couple of power plays and that’s the standard we want to play at. That first period is definitely going to be our standard now. We can look back and say that’s the kind of period we want to play” Kane said after the win. 

Kane gets is first home points in the win
New York Rangers’ Patrick Kane (88) celebrates his goal during the first period of the team’s NHL hockey game against the Washington Capitals on Tuesday, March 14, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

New York would take that first-period momentum into the second. After a strong penalty kill, the passing exploits of Kane and Vincent Trocheck found the captain Jacob Trouba for his seventh goal of the season and a 4-1 lead. 

“I think we’re getting better. Our start today was better than we had on the trip. The big key is knowing what we’re capable of playing. I think that’s a more solid thing to have knowing what we’re capable of.” Trouba explained after the win. 

Washington would battle back though. Matt Irwin would take advantage of an odd-man rush to slice the deficit in half in the final period. Late in the third, the Capitals would put even more pressure on New York with a Nic Dowd goal to cut the Rangers’ lead to one. 

But it was too little, too late thanks to the goaltending of Igor Shesterkin and the Blueshirts’ defense. A Jimmy Vesey empty net score would be all New York would end up needing and give the Rangers their third win in four games. 

The victory pushed New York to 38-19-10 on the season and supplanted in third place in the Metro division. It also ended a 12-game run where the Rangers failed to win a game in regulation. They’ll be back on the ice Thursday night to take on the Pittsburgh Penguins at home. 

Game Notes

  • The Rangers were without Ryan Lindgren for an eighth straight game Tuesday night. The top defenseman has been practicing at times with the team but is still considered day-to-day. 
  • Alex Ovechkin wasn’t the only Capital who didn’t suit up for Tuesday night’s game. The team also announced that Sonny Milano would not play due to an illness.
  • Zibanejad’s game-winning goal may have come initially from Panarin, but it wouldn’t have happened without the outlet pass from Shesterkin. The reigning Vezina winner was credited with an assist on the play, the second of his career and his first of this season. That, on top of the 28 saves on the night, gave Shesterkin his 30th win of the season, the second goaltender to accomplish that feat this season. 

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