Capitals’ comeback effort comes up short vs. Rangers originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
The Washington Capitals entered Tuesday night’s matchup against the New York Rangers coming off one of their most impressive victories of the season, a 5-1 smashing over the New York Islanders on the road on Saturday night.
Those good vibes didn’t last long, however.
Star winger Alex Ovechkin (lower-body) and forward Sonny Milano (illness) were ruled out just a couple of hours before puck drop. And when it was time to take the ice against the Rangers, the Capitals came out slow and fell in too deep of a hole to climb out of, falling 5-3 in a game they badly needed to win to keep pace in the playoff race.
Tuesday night’s game at Madison Square Garden started eerily similar to how Saturday’s matchup began: an early goal allowed by the visitors. New York got on the scoreboard just over four minutes into the first period, as star Mika Zibanejad beat Darcy Kuemper from the slot on the Rangers’ first shot attempt of the game.
After taking an early lead, New York dictated the pace of the game for the majority of the first period. The home side did an excellent job of keeping the puck in their offensive zone, as it took roughly 12 minutes of ice time for the Capitals to register their first shot on goal.
Despite being outplayed for the majority of the opening frame, the Capitals were able to break through with 5:31 remaining in the period. Nicolas Aube-Kubel beat Rangers netminder Igor Shesterkin from the slot, his fourth goal of the season, to even the score at one.
Any momentum the Capitals appeared to gain was quickly erased. Just 16 seconds after Aube-Kubel tied the game, the Rangers retook the lead on Zibanejad’s second goal of the evening — one that came on a pretty assist on a rush courtesy of Artemi Panarin.
The Rangers would earn a power play just a few minutes later after Aliaksei Protas was called for tripping. New York would make Protas pay for the infraction, as newly-acquired star Patrick Kane found the back of the net from near the point to double the Rangers’ lead. At the end of the first period, the Rangers held a 19-9 advantage in shots on goal.
Down two goals after 20 minutes, the Capitals opened the second period with a more aggressive approach. The change earned Washington a power play opportunity just 1:24 into the frame, yet the Capitals were able to register just one shot on goal during the man advantage.
Less than one minute after…