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Game 1: Rangers hold serve at home 4-1 over Caps behind the fourth line

April 22, 2024, 1:46 AM ET [719 Comments]
Jan Levine
New York Rangers Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Rangers took Game 1 of their playoff matchup against the Capitals 4-1 on Sunday at MSG. Three goals in a 2:06 span in the second period was all New York needed. The Blueshirts played a smart, disciplined game, not falling prey to anything Washington tried to do in the contest. Game 2 is Tuesday night at MSG.

Game recap:

Rangers lineup for Game 1 vs. Washington:




Scratches: Brodzinski, Jones, Ruhwedel, Edstrom and Domingue
LTIR: Chytil, Wheeler

A few thoughts:
1) Fourth line magic - the Jimmy Vesey-Barclay Goodrow-Matt Rempe trio combined for a pair of goals and three assists in the win. On the first goal, the tally was a 200-foot score, going from D to O. All three were in the defensive zone and Rempe helped lead the breakout. He got it to Vesey on the wing and then went to the side of the net, benefitting from a bounce off Vesey as he turned to the goal and put the puck past Charlie Lindgren. The Garden faithful, who love Rempe, exploded, and as he noted, this game was the first his mom attended in person at MSG, adding to the feel-good story.

After Artemi Panarin scored 33 seconds later - more on that below - Vesey scored off a faceoff 1:33 following that tally. A win on the draw and Rempe most certainly had a little interference on Beck Malenstyn. He definitely made contact but it didn't look like his elbow hit him in the jaw. He certainly impeded the path to give Vesey a chance to shoot. His shot deflected off John Carlson, who wasn't set, past Lindgren high. As Steve Valiquette noted, the goal was New York's 20th off a draw, the best in the league.

Rempe will have a target on his back in Game 2. The Capitals will look to get him to do something stupid. I understood why Peter Laviolette put that line on at the end of the game after the Tom Wilson-Braden Scheider love tangle and Wilson's uncalled stick to Igor Shesterkin's back. But Rempe didn't have to try and finish his check in the offensive zone, which could have been a penalty and might have started a war. He has to know when to lay back in the future.

2) Penalty kill - a key story, which has been the case all season, was the penalty kill. Not many good looks for the Capitals, who went 0-for-4 on the man-advantage. The stat in the tweet says a lot on the job the PK and D as a whole did. Strong effort to help keep the game scoreless and then maintain the lead.

3) Panarin tallying in the first game was big. Great forecheck by the line as a whole and then by Alexis Lafreniere, who laid a clean shoulder-to-shoulder check on Vincent Iorio to cause the turnover. A quick dish to Vincent Trocheck - who didn't have a great game - created a 2 on 1 and he found Panarin for the shot low to the glove side past Lindgren.

After last year's struggles and all the talk on how the monster regular season he had didn't matter unless he produced in the playoffs, getting off to a strong start helps. Panarin had jump during the game and looked to be paying free and easy.

4) Chris Kreider notched his 41st playoff goal, salting away the win, on a breakaway. Once again, D created O. A good back check by Jack Roslovic resulted in him getting the puck to Mika Zibanejad who found a streaking Kreider in stride. I didn't think Zib had a great game, his lazy coverage resulted in the Capitals only goal as he lost contact with Martin Fevehery. He needs to be better in Game 2.

5) The win is great. The defense was solid, save for a few blips, Igor Shesterkin wasn't tested much, but when he was, he was up to the task with 21 saves. The key will be to avoid being overconfident and complacent. All they did was hold serve at home in Game 1. The games and road will get tougher as we go along, which I am sure will be the message at practice. 

As a reminder, I am out of pocket beginning tomorrow night until Wednesday night. I will have a Game 3 preview blog up Thursday or Friday. If I can, will try and get a Game 2 recap blog up Thursday and preview up Friday. Due to the Sabbath, I am out of pocket for Friday's game with a recap/preview blog Sunday prior to Game 4. I am out again Sunday-Tuesday night but we can discuss those ramifications as the week wears on, depending on where the series sits.

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