Having completed the most-discussed deal of this week’s Trade Deadline Frenzy, the Washington Capitals next went about their bit of other business.
In case you haven’t heard it out of D.C., that other business happens to be Washington’s very serious crusade to win a Stanley Cup.
It’s one thing to make a lot of noise by obtaining the much-sought and highly-advertised defenseman, Kevin Shattenkirk, which the Caps did on Monday.
But converting the off-ice noise into on-ice victories was yet another matter, and that was handled on Tuesday night at The Garden.
A goal that would have given the Rangers a 2-1 lead in the second period was waved off by a coach's challenge, changing the momentum of the game, as the Blueshirts went on to lose to Washington.
Mind you, this was only a regular season, closing-out-February contest. On the other hand, it could be a portent of things to come at playoff time for both the Blueshirts and Capitals.
That’s because the possibility exists that a Washington-New York series could be a humdinger, and then some.
For now, at least, Washington’s sextet must be acknowledged as a formidable foe; a fact underlined by Shattenkirk and his new friends.
OVERVIEW: We all know that Washington is going all-out to create a contender. Ditto for New York. A late Winter contest, such as last night’s, will only give a hint of what may develop at playoff time.
Right now, the Caps have earned the right to be on top.
WHAT WENT WRONG:
1. FADED FAST: After taking the first-period lead on Brady Skjei‘s early goal, the Rangers attack fizzled like an old bottle of soda. By the third period, New York had to launch counterattacks, but to no avail.
2. POWER-LESS POWER PLAY: With a chance to get back into the game midway through the third period, the Rangers power play failed for the third straight time in the game. On the fourth try later in the final frame, the Blueshirts got another schneid with hardly a dangerous thrust.
3. HAIL HOLTBY: Where once Caps goalie Braden Holtby was an easier mark for the Blueshirts, that trend certainly was not evident last night. Holtby relinquished a goal in the first period and chose to be airtight after that.
4. MARCUS THE MARVEL: Marcus Johansson tied the count early in the second period for Washington with his 20th red light of the season. He followed that with a second goal in the third giving the Caps a two-goal cushion.
BEST GOAL: Brett Connolly deftly put the Capitals ahead to stay in the second period with the edge-of-crease winning goal.
BEST SAVE: Early in the second period, Henrik Lundqvist robbed Alex Ovechkin by nabbing the power play goalward laser shot in mid-air.
TURNING POINT: The Capitals tied the count in the second period on Johansson’s goal and then went ahead to stay when Brett Connolly put the Caps on the board again. The Rangers never were able to rally from that point to the end.
WHAT THEY SAID:
1. MSG NETWORKS’ ANALYST JOE MICHELETTI: “Washington is at the top because it can defend as well as doing so well on the attack. The Rangers are a good team and played two good teams back-to-back.”
2. MSG NETWORKS’ ANALYST STEVE VALIQUETTE: “I think the referee had selective sight on this night. I didn’t like the officiating. A lot of stuff was passed over.”
3. MSG NETWORKS’ ANALYST AL TRAUTWIG: “The ice felt tilted for Washington in the second period. A very frustrating Rangers team left the ice at the end.”
4. RYAN MCDONAGH: “They made us go back after the puck all night. We needed a straight line type of game. The power play is frustrating. We can’t get outworked and out-executed.”
5. MSG NETWORKS’ ANALYST DAVE MALONEY: “There was a sense that the Capitals would keep coming on and on.”
6. ALAIN VIGNEAULT: “We started real well, but in the second period their top players took their game to another level and dominated that period. They played harder in the second and third than we did.”
Alain Vigneault says the Capitals were able to seize momentum in the final two periods of the Rangers' 4-1 loss to Washington.
7. DEREK STEPAN: “It was frustrating for everybody. We just didn’t generate enough. We have to learn from it. Washington is the best team in the league for a reason.”
COMING ATTRACTIONS: The Rangers face yet another hot team tomorrow night in Boston where the revived Bruins now look like a playoff club. Game Time: 7 PM. TV: MSG Networks. Game Night: 6:30 PM.
BOTTOM LINE: Among other items to repair, the Rangers must figure out how to improve a power play that appears to need a sign; BATTERIES NOT INCLUDED. Guaranteed, the Bruins won’t do anything to help.