Rangers Ride Quick Start to Game 2 Victory

A two goal 1st period carried the Rangers to a narrow 3-2 victory in Game 2 of their second round series against the Washington Capitals, tying the series at one.

Recap:

The newly formed Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Jesper Fast line struck quickly, as Kreider gave the Rangers the lead just 38 seconds into the game. After Kreider chipped the puck into the offensive zone, Stepan made a great play to collect a long rebound off Braden Holtby’s pads and spin around to find Fast streaking towards the net. Holtby made a great save on Fast’s chance, but the puck bounced out right to Kreider for an easy goal.

While the Rangers applied pressure on the Caps early in the 1st period, Henrik Lundqvist was on hand at the other to end to preserve the lead, sprawling to rob Alex Ovechkin nearly five minutes into the game.

The Rangers continued their dominance on their second power play of the game, where Dan Boyle scored to make it 2-0 at 4:20 of the 1st period. Following a scrum in front of the net, a clearing attempt by Troy Brouwer was stopped at the blue line by Boyle, whose slap shot found a way past Holtby. Rick Nash deserves credit for providing Boyle with an excellent screen in front of Holtby.

In what was arguably their best period of the playoffs, the Rangers out-attempted and out-chanced Washington 18-6 and 8-4, respectively.

Lundqvist continued his strong play in the 2nd, sliding across the crease to make a kick save on a wide open Evgeny Kuznetzov halfway through the period.

Kuznetsov got the better of Lundqvist a few minutes later, cutting the Rangers’ lead to 2-1 at 6:01 of the 2nd period. The Capitals gained possession of the puck in the defensive zone and raced through center ice where a dump-in went off the boards behind Lundqvist right to Jason Chimera. Lundqvist stopped Chimera’s shot, but the rebound kicked out to Kuznetsov, who beat Boyle to the loose puck.

After withstanding a strong push by the Capitals, the Rangers, most notably Kreider and Derick Brassard, had some great chances to restore their two goal lead, but Holtby stood tall. Overall, the 2nd period was a letdown from the 1st for the Rangers, as their sizable lead in shot attempts evaporated.

Derick Brassard restored the Rangers’ two goal lead at 13:53 of the 3rd period shortly after the Rangers killed off the Capitals’ first power play of the game. Nash caused a turnover in the neutral zone and slid a pass to Martin St.Louis at the Capitals blue line. St.Louis then turned around and found a wide open Brassard, who had just raced out of the box, in front of the net. St.Louis’ weak pass tipped off a Capitals’ player stick, but got through for Brassard to fire a shot that squeaked through Holtby.

Not long after Kreider fired a shot off the post, Ovechkin scored an unbelievable goal to make it 3-2 with 9:31 left. Ovechkin received the puck at center ice, split past Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh, fell to the ice, and fired a quick wrist shot from his knees that went under Lundqvist’s right arm. Just like his goal in Game 1, there wasn’t much more the Rangers could have done to stop Ovechkin on the play.

Down a goal, Washington threw everything at the net and came close to tying the game during a crazy sequence in the final minutes, but the Rangers held on to even the series.

Notes:

-Here are all of the possession stats from theĀ game, courtesy of war-on-ice.com.

-Despite the Rangers’ great 1st period, Washington ended up with a slight edge in shot attempts at even strength (48-46), while the teams were equal on scoring chances (25-25).

-His goal aside, Ovechkin wasn’t quite as dominant (6 individual shot attempts, +19/-15 in shot attempts) as he was in Game 1.

-After a poor Game 1, the Rangers’ 4th line of Tanner Glass-Domonic Moore-James Sheppard were three of the Rangers’ top four forwards in terms of possession today.

-Led by the new Kreider-Stepan-Fast line, the Rangers’ forecheck was extremely successful today, especially early on.

-That line really seemed to click considering that this was their first game playing together as a trio. Kreider led the Rangers with six individual scoring chances.

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-Game 3 is Monday night in Washington.

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