The Capitals defeated the Rangers tonight in a tense back-and-forth game that saw the lead exchange three times before the Capitals pulled ahead halfway through the third period. Brooks Laich, returning from an upper body injury, had two goals and an assist for the Caps.
The Rangers opened the scoring early, as Brian Boyle ripped a shot high glove past Michal Neuvirth off a faceoff about four minutes in. The Caps were able to sustain offensive pressure, but were continually stymied by Henrik Lundqvist, until Laich redirected an Alex Semin shot on the power play to tie the score. Boyle scored again three minutes later, this time on the power play, and the teams went to the dressing room with the Rangers up 2-1. The Caps found their equalizer off the stick of John Erskine, who crushed a slapshot top corner on Lundqvist early in the middle frame. Not to be outdone, Derek Boogaard, (yes, him), who had not scored a goal in 234 games, dangled Tyler Sloan on a botched keep-in attempt and blasted his own slapshot past Neuvirth on an odd-man rush to put the Rangers up less than a minute later. Around the nine minute mark, Mike Knuble finally got off the schneid with a beautiful finish off a spectacular end-to-end performance by Alex Ovechkin to tie the game, and the frame ended in a tie. Halfway through the third period, Matt Bradley dug out a loose puck behind the net and fed it in front to a diving Matt Hendricks, who buried it for the eventual game-winning tally. The Rangers buzzed Neuvirth's cage for the remaining minutes, but the Czech rookie stood tall once more before Brooks Laich iced the game with an empty netter.
Mike Green continues to prove his all-around game is rapidly improving. No. 52 was outstanding all night, making smart passes, solid hits, and blocking shots. Greener gets better and better with every game and is once again solidifying his status as perhaps the NHL's best rearguard.
Mike Knuble scoring is huge. With his confidence back, Bruce Boudreau will likely move Knuble back to the top like with Ovie and Backstrom, breaking up the super line and balancing the Caps' attack more with Semin on the second line.
Michal Neuvirth is gonna be really, really good. Like, awesome. The rookie could not be faulted on any goal he allowed, and rebounded brilliantly after yielding goals each time. He also made several spectacular saves in the dying moments of the game. Outdueling Henrik Lundqvist is no small feat. Props to Neuvy.
Next game is Thursday night against Tampa Bay and Steven Stamkos. Game time is 7 P.M.
Welcome to Caps 'Round the Clock, a blog covering the Washington Capitals and the NHL. In season, I update the Blog after every practice and on game day with Caps news and information, and then provide a recap and analysis after each contest. I also write a periodical Prospect Watch and weekly feature pieces on the state of the Men in Red and other things Capitals. And of course, I will post videos and tidbits from around the League and offer my two cents as the season wears on. In the offseason, I write a Report Card for each player, and will keep you updated on all the news about the Caps through the summer. I'm glad you're here, and hope you come back!