Rangers Lose 2-1 Again, Will Face Elimination Friday

The Rangers were defeated by the Washington Capitals by a score of 2-1. For the scoring report, see the image below courtesy of NHL.com. Henrik Lundqvist made 28 saves, the Rangers took 29 shots on goal.  The Capitals now have a 3-1 series lead.

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-Boy, that was a tough loss.  A win tonight would have been huge for the team, and I think most people would be very confident in the Rangers chances to eventually move on.  Unfortunately it did not work out that way, and they have their work cut out for them moving forward.

-Brassard finally ended the scoring drought when he finished off a nice passing play started by Nash in his own zone.  He sent an elevated pass to St. Louis who settled it with his glove and then lifted a perfect pass to Brassard in the slot.  Brassard then put it top shelf and the Rangers seemed to get a spark.

-The Rangers were then able to control the play for a bit, including a great chance for Moore in front.  Moore was unable to score, and then took a goaltender interference penalty, after which the tides began to turn in Washington’s favor.  With 3:31 remaining in the period, Kreider turned the puck over along the wall, just as Brouwer took out Stepan, this gave Burakovsky an open lane to the slot where he beat Lundqvist.

-Heading into the third, the Rangers were still in ok shape.  If they won the period, they would head back to New York with the series tied at 2. As you can see below, according to Waronice.com they had just under a 50% chance of winning entering the third.  However, just 30 seconds into the period McDonagh tried to make a short pass to Girardi outside the Washington zone, instead of getting the puck deep.  Brouwer blocked the pass and it sparked a breakaway for Burakovsky who took it in and beat Lundqvist.

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-From this point on, the Rangers were able to possess the puck in the offensive zone on many occasions, however they had difficulty getting shots through to Holtby.  The Caps did an outstanding job blocking shots, look at the graph below (from waronice.com), and take note of how many shot attempts in the house they blocked.  That definitely makes it difficult to score.  Arguably their best chance was a penalty shot for Hagelin, which Holtby stopped with his glove.  The final few minutes went down similarly to game 3, where the Caps kept icing the puck and then winning the face off, which deflated any chance at consistent pressure, and eventually the buzzer rang.

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-Once again Lundqvist was outstanding, he made some great saves to keep this another close game.  He made one outstanding save while laying on his back after a shot hit the post.  I’m really not sure how he found the puck.  He’s done all you can ask for from your goalie, unfortunately the Rangers just have not been able to score.

-Even more so than tonight, Friday will be gut check time for the Rangers.  The Caps are playing some tough, solid hockey, but if some bounces went the other way the Rangers would be right in this series.  All 3 of their losses were by one goal.  They also have the experience of coming back from a 3-1 deficit against Pittsburgh last season to use as fuel and motivation.  Hopefully they come out flying on Friday night, and can send the series back to Washington.

-Next Game

The Rangers head back to the Garden where they will attempt to save their season.  They face off against the Capitals at 7pm on Friday.

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