Braden Holtby, who stopped all but two of the 36 shots he faced, held the Rangers at bay temporarily with a solid series of five saves on a penalty kill while Eric Fehr served a high-sticking minor. The Capitals also found a little luck when a shot by Brad Richards in front rang off the right post.
The fortuitous bounces wouldn’t last, though. During four-on-four play, three Capitals found themselves chasing the play down low, but none gained possession. Richards sent the puck out to an unattended Moore in the high slot, and the defenseman sent a shot that beat Holtby glove side for a 1-0 New York lead with 12:05 gone in the second.
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Less than two minutes later the Rangers made it 2-0. After following Callahan into the left corner, John Carlson couldn’t stay on New York’s captain as he made his way back to the crease. Callahan reached the blue paint, and with neither Carlson nor Ovechkin hovering in the slot to truly challenge his positioning, he managed to bat a feed from Richards past Holtby at the 13:51 mark.
“I was frustrated,” Carlson said. “I tried to eliminate him. He kind of rolled off me a little bit, and he made a good play.”
Washington’s defensive flaws prevented it from escaping its own zone, let alone conceive of creating any type of sustained offensive presence. The Capitals were so handcuffed by a combination of their mistakes and New York’s ability to pounce on them that they failed to record a shot on goal in the final 9:12 of the second period.
The Capitals managed to muster a bit more in the third with New York playing safely to protect its advantage but never seriously threatened to mount a comeback. Where the final frame may have a lingering impact, though, is with Troy Brouwer.
The veteran winger clipped Derek Stepan up high, coming into contact with the center’s head as he headed to the bench for a line change 51 seconds into the third period. Stepan left the ice to go through the NHL’s concussion protocol but ultimately returned to the contest a little more than seven minutes later and finished the game. While Brouwer says the hit was unintentional, he could receive a suspension from NHL vice president of player safety Brendan Shanahan.
“I’m glad to see that he came back and wasn’t seriously hurt after it. Those can be tough plays,” Brouwer said. “I pride myself on being an honest player and tried to get out of the way without causing as much damage as possible.”