NYR 1, WSH 4 - Ragtag Rangers Run Over by Reinforced Capitals

2/28/2017 40-21-2 NYR 1, WSH 4 (Home) Game | Event | Play-by-Play | FO Sum. | FO Comp. | TOI – NYR | TOI – WSH | Shot Report | Shift Chart

In the Eastern Conference, all roads seem to lead to Washington (89 points), who bolstered their blueline by picking up the league’s top trade target, Kevin Shattenkirk. The Rangers looked to continue their strong play (7-2-1 in the last ten games, 82 points) and beat the league leaders for the second time in ten days on Thursday night. But banged up and without three regulars after Mika Zibanejad was a late scratch, the Blueshirts didn’t have the firepower to stay with Washington and fell 4-1.

The game was Kevin Shattenkirk’s first game after being traded from St. Louis earlier today, but while many predicted he’d be making the debut in Rangers’ Blue, he instead arrived at MSG and pulled on Capitals’ white. He had three of the Capitals first five shots and four total, but, for the most part, didn’t do too much to give Jeff Gorton FOMO about not pulling the trigger on a trade.

With Dan Girardi and Kevin Klein out of the lineup, Brady Skjei got top-four minutes and Adam Clendening remained in the lineup. They combined with J.T. Miller to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead on one of the sweetest transition goals involving two defensemen that you’ll see.

Just like the last time these two teams met, New York had great jump and controlled play in the first period, but the Capitals had the distinctive edge in the second. Henrik Lundqvist, who entered tonight with a 2-0 record and a .950 save percentage against Washington this year, made 17 saves but got beaten twice as the Rangers’ patched-together defense lost coverage in front. He finished with 34 total.

The Rangers trailed 2-1 after two and didn’t have the juice to muster any consistent offense in the third period. They surrendered two more goals, one on a Nicklas Backstrom seeing-eye power play goal, to lose their second straight.

While Shattenkirk was not particularly impactful in his debut, New York’s consolation prize (maybe that’s unfair) Brendan Smith wasn’t active as his plane didn’t arrive from Vancouver on time after the deal was announced earlier today. His presence will be most welcome as Steven Kampfer, who will be sent back down to the AHL, was on for two goals against.

There’s no doubt that the Rangers were decisively outplayed in the second and third periods. It’s worth noting, though, that through two periods they hit three posts and had a Michael Grabner goal disallowed. As we’ve seen a few times this year, if the Blueshirts were able to cash in on another opportunity two, the entire complexion of the game could have been quite different.

The Rangers’ next game is on Thursday, as it starts a tough March schedule in Boston.

Notes: Steven Kampfer made his first appearance of the season; Rangers are now 16-5-1 after a loss; New York was 0-4 on the power play; Alex Ovechkin had scored in seven-straight games at MSG before going scoreless tonight; Barry Trotz became the sixth coach to win 700 games in the NHL.

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