Even though teammate Brian Boyle provided most of the Rangers offense, it was Derek Boogaard that became the story of the night for Ranger fans, as he netted his first goal since 2006, a period that spanned 234 games. The Rangers went toe-to-toe with the high flying Caps, and played them right to the wire. The game was a wild one, filled with hits, fights, open ice, interesting calls, and goals from unlikely sources. However, in the end, the Rangers simply could not continue to trade chances with the Caps, and fell 5-3 in a very hard fought game.
The first period was a very intense one with several scoring chances and some tempers flaring. Henrik Lundqvist’s glove side post prevented the Caps from gaining an early lead when it made a nice clanging save on a Niklas Backstrom breakaway just one minute into the game. After a flurry of activity in front of the Rangers net a minute later, all of which were kept out of the net by Lundqvist, Brian Boyle continued his great start by roofing a backhand past Caps goalie Michael Neuvirth. The puck wound up on Boyle’s stick after Dan Girardi did a good job keeping the zone, and fired it right to Boyle who roofed it.
Quickly following the goal, the Caps had several chances, but Lundqvist was able to keep the Caps, and particularly Mike Knuble, off the board with some great pad saves. Brandon Dubinsky kept his hot season going by….fighting Mike Green. Yes, you read that correctly, Mike Green dropped the gloves with Dubinsky. The fight was a draw, but it was nice to see a fight that wasn’t planned or expected. After a weak tripping call on Erik Christensen, Washington evened the score when Brooks Laich tipped an Alex Semin shot past Lundqvist.
The Rangers made it 2-1 on the powerplay when Boyle netted his second of the game off a faceoff to Neuvirth’s glove side. The Caps on the faceoff, but Karl Alzner whiffed on the clearing attempt, giving the puck right to Boyle, who beat Neuvirth glove side. The Rangers had a bit of a scare late in the period, when Matt Hendricks delivered a dirty knee to knee hit on Steve Eminger, who was clearly injured on the play. Michael Sauer stuck up for his defensive partner, dropping the gloves with Hendricks instantly. Even though Sauer got an extra two minutes, it’s good to see the Rangers sticking up for each other.
The second period opened where the first period left off, with lots of physical play and hitting. It was the Caps that got the first goal of the period to tie the game though. John Erksine absolutely rifled a shot from the top of the circle over Lundqvist’s blocker on the short side. Less than one minute after Erksine’s goal, the Rangers got a goal from the most unlikely of sources. That goal came when Derek Boogaard took the puck off a Washington turnover skated down the right side on a partial breakaway, and ripped a howitzer past Neuvirth on the blocker side. Boogaard’s goal was his first since 2006, which was 234 games ago.
The Caps tied the game at 3 when Knuble finally beat Lundqvist after Alex Ovechkin danced around the Rangers defense, took a bad angle low shot, and had the rebound fall right on Knuble’s stick with an empty net. Ruslan Fedotenko woke up a little bit after the Knuble goal, taking the puck to the net, and having his goal waved off after he and Karl Alzner made contact with Neuvirth. The net was up, but not off the mooring when the puck crossed the line, but the refs ruled that Fedotenko had made contact with the goalie, thus it was no goal. And to think that after the Fedotenko no-goal, there were still eight and a half minutes left in the period. The period ended in an uneventful fashion, but considering the first 12 minutes of the period, it’s possible both teams were just a bit tired from that wacky period.
The third period had more hitting, but opened with a lot less flair than the first two periods. There was very little open ice, but the physicality was still prevalent on the ice. It wasn’t until the period was a third of the way done when the ice started opening up for both teams. Unfortunately for the Rangers, it was Washington that capitalized when Matt Bradley found Matt Hendricks in front of the net to give the Caps a 4-3 lead. The Rangers pressed to get that tying goal, and had several quality chances, including a Fedotenko breakaway and a powerplay that ended with 5:30 left in the game. At the very end of the powerplay, Brandon Dubinsky had a golden opportunity on the backdoor, but Neuvirth got a piece of his shot, and it bounced on the top of the net before falling harmlessly off the side. The rest of the game was passed by with a few more shots on Neuvirth, that were all steered away. Brooks Laich added an empty netter with five seconds left in the game to cement the win for the Caps.
Rangers goals were scored by Brian Boyle (6, 7) and Derek Boogaard (1). Assists went to Dan Girardi (6) and Sean Avery (7). The Rangers next game is Thursday at 7pm against the Buffalo Sabres.