Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Caps 5 - Rangers 3

Last night's two point night in New York's Madison Square Garden puts the Capitals current win streak at 5 games. The game seemed like two or even three different games. To me, the first & second period were the first game while the third period was a completely different second game. During the first two periods it was a closely contested game - not the tight, low scoring game I'd anticipated but a close game where both teams played hard made some good plays and scored some goals but the score basically stayed even through two periods. During the first two periods, the Rangers would score and the Caps would answer. Then the third period rolled around and the Capitals scored two goals on 5 shots while the Rangers scored 0 goals on 9 shots and the game was over. Despite out shooting the Capitals by almost a 2-1 margin the reality was the Rangers were pretty flat during the third period while the Capitals continued to play pretty much the same game they had through the first 40 minutes of regulation.

Highlights of the game:
- Brooks Laich playing and scoring two goals including the final empty-netter, in a game where he wasn't even expected to play, because he was injured last game.
- The goaltending which was far better than the respective save percentages would lead you to believe. Nuevirth stopped 25 of 28 (SV%=0.893). Lundqvist stopped 19 of 23 (SV%=0.826). Of course the fact that in that regard Michal Neuvirth "out-dueled" Henrick Lundqvist is pretty cool to me.
- The Bradley pass to set-up the Mat Hendricks' game winning goal. That play was "money" - especially for secondary scoring.
- Mike Knuble getting off the schneid. I just hope the PETA people don't show up at his place and find any remnants of the dead goat.

Lowlights of the Game (note these would be highlights if you are a Rangers fan):
- Tyler Sloans' night (first let me say I thought Sloan played a really good game against the Flyers on Sunday, last night not so much.) especially him geting intimidated by Derek Boogard and letting Boogard skate by him freely on his way to scoring his first goal in 234 games.
- Caps giving up the first goal of the game and then basically "chasing" the Rangers to draw or stay even through the entire first 40 minutes of the game. One wonders if the outcome would have been different if a little less of the Rangers' normal firepower wasn't injured and was in their line-up last night.
- Karl Alzner's whiffed clearing attempt on the penalty kill that led to the Rangers powerplay goal by Brian Boyle for Boyle's second goal of the game. Of course it is a relief to see that John Carlson isn't the only young defenseman on the team who occasionally makes a "rookie mistake/misplay."
- There are several candidates for this last "lowlight" but I'll go with Michal Neuvirth's rebound "control" during most of the night. Despite having a better SV% last night than King Henrick, and earning his 9th W of the season (in 14 GPI), last night wasn't a stellar evening for the NHL's October Rookie of the Month.

Well that's another two points and now it's back home to face the Tampa Bay Lightning here at Verizon Center tomorrow evening. The Lightning - Caps match up should be a good one. Steven Stamkos continues to play like he's on fire, leading the league in points (21) and goals (13), and the Lightning come into the game in fourth place in the Eastern Conference with 18 points in 14 games. Thursday evening is a perfect chance for the Caps to put some distance between themselves and this Southeast Division rival.


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