|WSH||0||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||5|
|NYR||0||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||4|
• PHOTO GALLERY
By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
The Rangers returned home to play their first game at Madison Square Garden in 10 days, and although they delivered a standings point, they could not deliver the holiday cheer The Garden Faithful was seeking.
Defenseman Shaone Morrisonn scored 59 seconds into overtime as the Washington Capitals erased a 4-0 Rangers’ lead to defeat the Blueshirts 5-4 Tuesday night.
“They threw pucks at the net while we threw pucks away and they capitalized on them,” explained Rangers head coach Tom Renney. “We mismanaged the puck and we mismanaged the game. They won it, and we handled it very poorly.”
Former Rangers’ center Michael Nylander rushed the puck through all three zones on the game-winning play, only to have the puck poked off his stick inside the Blueshirts’ blueline. Morrisonn collected the puck and fired it past Henrik Lundqvist for his first goal of the season to cap Washington’s amazing comeback.
“That bomb in overtime, I don’t know how many guys are going to stop a knuckleball like that,” said Renney. “I thought Henrik played well. He was not a concern tonight at all.”
Washington stormed back from a 4-0 deficit early in the second period, to pull even at 4-4 on Alex Ovechkin’s second goal of the game 12:38 into the third. Ovechkin’s 22nd goal of the season was the Caps’ third of the final stanza, with Tomas Fleischmann and Viktor Kozlov also scoring in the third.
“When you have a lead, especially at home, you have to find ways to put it away,” stated Drury. “I thought we got loose with the puck, got away from the game plan, and they capitalized.”
Ovechkin, who is now third in the league with 46 points, recorded a three-point night with two goals and an assist.
The Rangers exploded to score three goals in the first 11:15 of the contest. Markus Naslund, Michal Rozsival, and Callahan notched the goals as the Rangers drove Caps goalie Jose Theodore from the nets and to the bench after scoring three times on their first five shots of the match.
Naslund capped a pretty rush up ice with linemates Scott Gomez and Nikolai Zherdev by bursting behind Washington’s Fleischmann to redirect a spinning centering feed from Zherdev past Theodore to give the Blueshirts a 1-0 lead at 3:38. The goal was Naslund’s team-leading 13th of the season; and it sent a jolt of energy through The Garden.
Three minutes later, Naslund nearly handed a goal back to the Caps, but was bailed out by Lundqvist. Naslund gave the puck away to Washington’s Alexandre Giroux in the neutral zone, and Giroux broke in ahead of everyone else, snapping a shot on goal that was kicked out by Lundqvist’s lightning-quick right pad.
The Rangers increased their lead to 2-0 at 11:04 when Drury won a face-off in the offensive zone and Rozsival hammered a slap shot from the right point past the stick of Theodore and into the net for his fifth goal of the season, and third in the past three games.
Eleven seconds later, the Rangers’ lead was 3-0 and Theodore was headed to the Caps bench in favor of Brent Johnson. Callahan started the scoring play with a steal at center ice and finished it by banging in the rebound of a Drury shot for his 10th goal.
After Callahan’s goal, Caps coach Bruce Boudreau called timeout and inserted Johnson into the game. Boudreau’s club settled down somewhat in its own end, and the Caps began to create some scoring chances of their own in the offensive end. However, Lundqvist was very sharp, and he stopped all nine shots he faced over the first 20 minutes of action---including four by Ovechkin.
When the second period started, Boudreau reinserted Theodore back between the pipes despite the fact that Johnson had stopped all three shots he faced in relief. Callahan welcomed Theodore back to the match by netting his second of the game, and 11th of the season, 4:48 into the middle stanza.
Callahan broke to the net with Ovechkin hopelessly trailing behind and accepted a perfect pass from Dawes. Callahan made a pair of dekes before pulling the puck to his forehand and sliding it under the pads of Theodore to give the Rangers a 4-0 lead.
It was the third straight goal scored by the Blueshirts with the line of Drury, Callahan, and Dawes on the ice. With Callahan scoring his second goal of the night, Drury earned his third assist, and Dawes his second helper.
After Theodore was able to withstand a further onslaught of scoring opportunities by the Rangers, the Caps picked up their game, and it was time for Lundqvist to shine at the other end of the ice.
Lundqvist made several sensational stops in the middle stanza, including a pair from in tight on Ovechkin during the same sequence midway through the period. However, a bad bounce for the Rangers allowed Washington to finally break through at 12:35.
After Lundqvist was perfectly positioned to deny a Nicklas Backstrom slap shot, Ovechkin collected the rebound and spun around, shooting the puck wildly towards the slot. The puck, which was not headed on goal, deflected off of Rozsival’s stick and rocketed over Lundqvist’s shoulder, and the Caps were within 4-1 on Ovechkin’s team-high 21st of the year.
“I think when they got the first goal they were thinking ‘OK, we can do this’,” said Lundqvist. “That’s hockey. One goal can change so much.”
Energized by the goal, the Caps put forth their best sustained pressure of the night over the next few minutes, but Lundqvist was the difference, denying one good scoring chance after another. Perhaps his best save came at 14:26 when he flashed out his right pad to kick away Andrew Gordon’s booming shot from the right wing circle, which seemed ticketed for the far corner of the net.
Lundqvist stopped 13 of the 14 shots he faced in the middle stanza, and the Rangers skated into the second intermission still holding their 4-1 lead.
Washington cut into that deficit just 1:41 into the third period. With Rozsival in the penalty box for hooking, Fleischmann fired a long right wing shot over Lundqvist’s glove to make the score 4-2. Backstrom earned his second assist of the night, and Fleischmann scored his 12th goal of the season.
Another Rangers’ penalty -- this one to Blair Betts for tripping -- led to another power-play goal by the Capitals at 7:04. Hulking center Viktor Kozlov burst through the slot and zipped the puck past Lundqvist for his eighth goal, again assisted by Backstrom, and the Blueshirts’ lead was trimmed to 4-3.
“Those two power play goals really hurt us,” said Naslund. “But there was a reason why we took those penalties, too, and that is because we were back on our heels. We are just making immature mistakes. We have to find that level of confidence to put teams away.”
Less than two minutes later, Rangers’ defenseman Dan Girardi was whistled for a tripping penalty and the Caps went right back to the power play looking to tie the game. But the Rangers’ league-best penalty kill withstood the challenge and the lead remained intact.
However, that lasted just a little bit longer as Ovechkin’s second goal of the night, after a steal and a breakaway, tied the contest 4-4 with 7:22 remaining in regulation.
And though the Rangers did receive a point in the standings, the collapse was complete when Morrisonn hammered home the game-winning goal in overtime for Washington.
“We got a point out of it, but it’s a bad point,” stated Gomez. “But it’s over with, so now we have to regroup and move forward.”
After the three-day holiday break, the Rangers will return to action on Saturday night at MSG when they host the Devils. As if the Rangers need any further motivation to bounce back in their next match, the Blueshirts will be facing a Devils team that scored eight times against them in their most recent meeting back on Dec. 12 in Newark.
|Markus Naslund (13) ASST: Nikolay Zherdev (21), Scott Gomez (17)|
1 - 0 NYR
|Michal Rozsival (5) ASST: Chris Drury (11)|
2 - 0 NYR
|Ryan Callahan (10) ASST: Chris Drury (12), Nigel Dawes (5)|
3 - 0 NYR
|Ryan Callahan (11) ASST: Nigel Dawes (6), Chris Drury (13)|
4 - 0 NYR
|Alex Ovechkin (21) ASST: Nicklas Backstrom (25)|
4 - 1 NYR
|PPG - Tomas Fleischmann (12) ASST: Nicklas Backstrom (26), Brooks Laich (11)|
4 - 2 NYR
|PPG - Viktor Kozlov (8) ASST: Nicklas Backstrom (27), Alex Ovechkin (24)|
4 - 3 NYR
|Alex Ovechkin (22) ASST: NONE|
4 - 4 Tie
|Shaone Morrisonn (1) ASST: Michael Nylander (14), Sean Collins (1)|
5 - 4 WSH
|Nikolay Zherdev Charging against Tyler Sloan|
|Eric Fehr Hooking against Michal Rozsival|
|Tyler Sloan Hooking against Lauri Korpikoski|
|Fredrik Sjostrom Tripping against Matt Bradley|
|Milan Jurcina Hooking against Scott Gomez|
|Michal Rozsival Hooking against Bryan Helmer|
|Blair Betts Kneeing against Nicklas Backstrom|
|Dan Girardi Tripping against Viktor Kozlov|
|SA: 3||TOI: 8:45|
|Saves: 3||EV: 3 - 3|
|PIM: 0||PP: 0 - 0|
|SV%: 1.000||SH: 0 - 0|
|SA: 25||TOI: 52:03|
|Saves: 21||EV: 17 - 21|
|PIM: 0||PP: 4 - 4|
|SV%: .840||SH: 0 - 0|
|SA: 36||TOI: 60:59|
|Saves: 31||EV: 24 - 27|
|PIM: 0||PP: 7 - 9|
|SV%: .861||SH: 0 - 0|