Henrik Lundqvist blanks Capitals as Rangers tighten up defense
WASHINGTON -- With an impressive work ethic, a commitment to defense and a willingness to fire away, the Rangers snapped a three-game losing streak with a 2-0 victory over the Capitals Wednesday night.
In their first game against an Eastern Conference team, the Rangers (2-4) outshot the Capitals 36-22, John Moore and Ryan Callahan scored in the second period and Henrik Lundqvist looked more like himself while making 22 saves. The Rangers' previous win came against Los Angeles, 3-1, in the second game of the season.
"We didn't give them a whole lot, and that's what Henrik feasts on," said Brad Richards, who had two assists and has a team-leading seven points. He also praised the power play. "I love our power play right now, even if it doesn't score, we have a purpose to it. Everybody knows exactly their role, there's no guessing out there. Guys go to their spots, win battles and we're bombing away."
Lundqvist, who blanked Washington in the last two games of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals last May, and the penalty-killers turned away four power plays by the Caps (2-5), who had been leading the league with a 38-percent success rate.
"I felt like we came in here with a lot of confidence, we felt like we could beat them," said Lundqvist, who had entered with a 4.21 goals-against average. "A couple times in the early games, I got caught deep in the net. Wednesday night, a lot of it was just like I felt I knew what was going to happen, the structure was so good. The way we played in front helped me a lot."
In their third game without power forward Rick Nash (concussion), the Rangers reset themselves in two practices at home after losing to the Sharks, Ducks and Blues by a combined score of 20-5.
Moore scored his first of the season on a long wrister that went past Braden Holtby's glove at 12:05 of the second. Callahan's third goal of the season, at 13:51, extended the lead to 2-0. As the Rangers captain cut across the slot in front of Holtby, he batted the puck down from mid-air past the Caps goaltender. Ryan McDonagh picked up his first assist of the season on Moore's goal, and Derick Brassard got his fourth assist on Callahan's tally.
The Rangers pushed the pace from the start, outshooting the Caps 11-8 and blocking 10 shots in the first period, seven by defensemen, and finished with 22. "There was a lot more communication with the forwards today, and we were a lot more patient in the zone, we weren't running out of position," McDonagh said.
In the first period, the Rangers survived a 55-second five-on-three, and then killed the five-on-four, as Lundqvist made four saves and was helped by Alex Ovechkin, who broke his stick on a shot. Joel Ward hit the outside of a half-open net on the short side. "When you're able to kill that off, it's huge for the bench," Moore said, "and for us to rally around that, and take momentum into the second, it's big."
During a five-minute span late in the second, the Rangers, who face the Devils on Saturday in Newark, outshot the Caps 15-0.
"That was more like us," Brian Boyle said. "We had to play a good game for us. We could've played anybody tonight. Now we have to build on it."