Rangers defender Ryan Lindgren, bruised and bloodied as ever, stepped forward and gave Alex Ovechkin a stronger body than the Capitals star has likely been hit in the last decade, knocking him down and breaking his stick in the second period of Friday night’s showdown in Washington.
So, Ovechkin naturally turned around and found a way to score two goals in the second half of the third period, singlehandedly wishing his team a 2-1 victory over the Rangers.
The Blueshirts held a 1-0 lead until 13:18 remained in the third period, but the 35-year-old Ovechkin found himself in the right place at the right time, burying two goals from the same spot in the span of at 3:09 to flip the script.
It was the Capitals’ first win over the Rangers in their three meetings this season and extended their winning streak to seven games.
“He’s a Hall of Famer, he’s always finding ways to score goals,” Rangers interim head coach Kris Knoblauch said of Ovechkin after the loss, which left the Blueshirts at 12-13-4. .
“Hit-wise, I thought Lindgren made a tremendous play, he was clean,” Knoblauch said. “I haven’t seen the video yet, but I didn’t think there was any problem, it’s just his team defending their star player. That’s what Lindy does, she wasn’t targeting a star player, she wasn’t looking for heads, she was just playing like Lindy does. In my opinion, it was a good clean shot. “
Said Ovechkin, who is 174 goals off Wayne Gretzky’s all-time NHL record: “It was a huge success, obviously. Hit my stick. It broke. It was good hockey, it’s hockey. “
Washington has outscored their opponents 29-14 during their current run through the East Division, but the Capitals’ toughest matchup in that span was hands down the Blueshirts.
From top to bottom, the Rangers are figuring out how to be tough to face.
If Wednesday’s historic 9-0 win over the Flyers was a fluke, the Rangers followed it up with a strong road effort against the first-place team in the East.
“It’s hard to digest because we feel like we played very well, I mean we played a very good game on the road,” said Chris Kreider. “They took two great opportunities during the third, he was close at all times. You have to limit the chances of very good offensive teams, so there are definitely a lot of good conclusions. “
The Rangers are having an offensive resurgence, dating back to when star winger Artemi Panarin returned to the lineup last week after an extended leave of absence due to a political coup from Russia.
After scoring a power play goal in the first period on Friday night, Panarin now has at least one point in every game since returning to the lineup on March 13. He has three goals and four assists, for seven points, at Rangers. last four games.
The Rangers have done more than just adapt to an offensive pace. They have a newfound tenacity, spirit, and will to win. Perhaps the disappointment of a slow start to the season has caught up with them, or their best weapons are finding their games at the same time, but this is not the same team that showed up on opening night in January.
The Rangers, led by the Wolf Pack coaching staff for the second night in a row with Blueshirts staff on COVID-19 protocol, limited Washington to fewer than 10 shots on goal each period. After facing just five shots in the first period, and then six in the middle, Ovechkin’s two goals ruined the Rangers’ efforts.
In the end, Washington was outshot 33-18 and still managed to win.
“Ovechkin is a goalscorer, he’s obviously known for those nice goals from the outside, but he does a good job reaching the net and bringing his great body there and he was able to score those two obviously very similar goals on both of them.” Kreider said. . “It’s something we have to go back and look at and remedy when entering [Saturday’s rematch]. “