Game 7: WAS 4 NYR 3, OT, Ovi’s pair help defeat the Blueshirts
The Rangers fell 4-3 in overtime Wednesday at the Capitals. Despite several moments during the game where the talent disparity between the two teams was evident, New York hung with Washington throughout the contest. Goals by Mika Zibanejad, Jimmy Vesey and Chris Kreider we’re matched by a one from John Carlson and a pair by Alex Ovechkin. Matt Niskanen’s goal, coming after all three Blueshirts on the ice focused on Evgeny Kuznetsov, gave Wasctime hington the victory.
David Quinn pre-game:
Lines - same as Tuesday, save for Pavel Buchnevich back in for Cody McLeod and playing on left side:
Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad, Jesper Fast
Jimmy Vesey, Brett Howden, Vladislav Namestnikov
Filip Chytil, Kevin Hayes, Mats Zuccarello
Pavel Buchnevich, Ryan Spooner, Vinni Lettieri
Brady Skjei-Neal Pionk
Marc Staal-Brendan Smith
Fredrik Claesson-Kevin Shattenkirk
David Quinn post-game:
A few thoughts:
1) Alex Ovechkin tallied twice, giving him six goals in six games to start the season after scoring 49 last year. Including those two tallies, his 24 career goals against the Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist are the most against any goaltender in the NHL.
Ovechkin, left dot, part 1, but closer to boards:
Ovechkin, from his home office, part 2
Just saying, you might want to overshoot to Ovi at that spot. This was a significant twitter conversation yesterday. It’s a double-edged sword. If you do shift your focus to Ovi, the Caps then have a 4-on-3 and the skilled players to do major damage. In addition, Ovi will move around the ice to create more mismatches, and even if he stays stationary on the left dot, Washington moves the puck so well that they will find him. But we all know the likely result if he is left alone, so I would rather take my chances and let someone else beat me rather than Ovi.
2) Kreider - deflection goal, his specialty:
3) Neal Pionk - three assists in 22:50 of ice time during which he was one of the best Rangers. I love the recognition here to take advantage of the open ice on the first goal:
4) Buchnevich - reinstated after sitting Tuesday as a scratch, as Brooks noted, was so-so in 10:30 that did not include a second of power-play time. I don’t know if he was much more engaged than before he was sat. Buch was moved up a line in the second and then shifted back to the fourth line. He knows what he has to do. If he fails to meet the expectations, he will continue to sit. This isn’t a coach singling him out but one who has created a baseline of what he expects and a player’s job is to match or beat that.
5) Filip Chytil - opened on left wing, finished the night as fourth-line center, getting two shifts for 2:34 in the third. He did not get off the bench for the final 12:11 of regulation plus the OT.
“I don’t think it’s positional. It’s mental,” Quinn said. “He’s fighting it a little bit. Maybe back-to-back was a little too much for him. I think he’s [pressing] to score a goal and once, he does, the floodgates will open for him.”
Chytil is a young 19, having just turned that age. We all had high expectations, maybe too high, but it’s a learning process. My view is that eventually, he will go on a roll. Reaching this may take a bit of time but he will get there. Patience is required here.
6) Lundqvist - pretty good in the loss. Can fault him for the first Ovi goal, as he admitted that he didn’t expect the shot. You should know that Ovi will shoot from anywhere, especially anywhere near the left dot. But beyond that, he was excellent again. Despite the loss, he has a 2.31 GAA on the year.
With three days off until Sunday's game against Calgary, not surprising that he started. Especially since New York has been a bit better in their own end since the Carolina game. As Brooks noted, Lundqvist started both ends of back-to-backs eight times last season. He had done so 85 times previously throughout his career, posting a 53-23-7 record with a 2.09 goals-against average and .928 save percentage.
7) With Lundqvist starting, Alex Georgiev, the 22-year-old backup, sat agan. He has played just once since his final preseason outing, in Philadelphia on Sept. 27, starting the loss to Carolina, in which he allowed three soft goals of the seven overall. Fairly good likelihood that Georgiev will be dispatched to AHL Hartford to get some game action this weekend. The Wolf Pack play in Belleville, Ontario, on Friday and in Toronto on Saturday.
8) Really like what I am seeing from this team. The effort is there nightly along with a pretty good pace of play. Defense is still a work-in-progress, including the forwards coming back into their own zone. But you can see the framework of the structure starting to coalesce and each player buying in. Doesn’t mean that all is well and there isn’t areas of need, including seeing improvement and better game recognition from Brady Skjei, physical play from Buchnevich, finishing skill from the forward etc. But if New York plays like they have, then watching a rebuild may be less painful than originally anticipated.