Rangers’ Rally Falls Short After Embarrassing First Period

The Rangers began their home-and-home against the Washington Capitals with a 4-2 loss at Madison Square Garden on Monday night. The Capitals extended their winning streak to four games, and currently sit atop the Metropolitan Division with 97 points.

Washington would score the first four goals of last night’s contest, and never look back. The Caps tallied three times in the game’s first 9 minutes, and once more in the final 5, in what arguably the Rangers’ most dreadful period of this season, as they lacked both focus and effort.

Beating Georgiev on a wrist shot, T.J. Oshie opened the scoring. Minutes later, the Blueshirts committed a major defensive mistake, as Matt Niskanen was left all alone in front of the net with all the time in the world, where he roofed it over Georgiev’s glove. Then Cody McLeod’s hooking penalty put Washington on the man-advantage, and the Capitals’ deadly power-play would capitalize. Alex Ovechkin hammered home another one of his patented one-time-slappers from the left-faceoff-circle for his 45th goal of the season, which ended his fellow countryman’s evening.

Georgiev did not look good at all on Monday. The first goal that he conceded was definitely one he’d like back, but the second and third were a result of the subpar defensive coverage of Alain Vigneault’s team. Despite only being at fault on one goal, the young Russian looked very shaky and allowed three goals on only six shots, so the Blueshirts attempted to shift the momentum with a goalie swap, in which Georgiev was replaced by Ondrej Pavelec, who had been absent since early February because of an MCL injury. Overall, Pavelec was excellent in relief, but he would concede one goal.

To cap off the Rangers’ abysmal first frame, the Caps struck once more. This one came while shorthanded, and was scored by Evgeny Kuznetsov thanks to a beautiful setup by Alex Chiasson.

The Rangers were much better in the second two periods and put forth a valiant comeback effort following a 4-0 deficit after their embarrassing first 20 minutes of play that came on home-ice and national television. The Boys in Blue wouldn’t surrender any other tallies and would win the final two periods by a combined score of 2-0. In the latter half of the second period, Lias Andersson recorded his first NHL goal in his first contest as a Blueshirt. The 7th pick of the 2017 entry draft impressed in his call-up, and put forth a nice first impression on the Blueshirt Faithful.

In the final frame, Mats Zuccarello netted his 16th of the campaign, but more importantly, the primary assist went to Filip Chytil, which marked his first NHL point. Chytil, the 21st pick in the 2017 entry draft, played the first two games of the campaign with the Blueshirts, but was then sent down to Hartford where he has spent his season until he was recalled alongside Andersson on Sunday. Chytil and Andersson became the first pair of teenagers to notch a point in the same game with the Rangers since Dave Maloney and Ron Greschner did so back in 1974! Chytil also looked very good, as he frequently displayed his remarkable skill and speed. The future is bright in Rangerstown.

The Blueshirts outplayed the Caps in the second two periods and created plenty of scoring chances. Had Kevin Hayes and Vlad Namestnikov put the puck in the wide open nets that they missed, and had Philipp Grubauer not robbed Cody Mcleod on his quality opportunity, the outcome could have definitely been different. However, New York’s control of the final two frames was partially because of the score, as the Capitals definitely started to play with far less discipline and structure. They (Evgeny Kuznetsov) even started to showboat a little bit.

The Rangers and Capitals complete their home-and-home as NBC’s Wednesday Night Rivalry matchup, which will take place at the Verizon Center (8:00 PM, NBCSN). Henrik Lundqvist and Braden Holtby will return to their respective creases.

In other news, Alexandar Georgiev was reassigned to the Hartford Wolfpack, and the Blueshirts management and coaching staff have decided to shutdown defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, therefore he will not return this season. Additionally, Chris Kreider was selected as the Rangers’ nominee for the Bill Masterton trophy.

Brian Paget is on Twitter @BrianPaget17

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