The NHL’s first animated hockey game, something we took with a grain of salt at the initial announcement, was actually a pretty big success. It was the perfect combination of drawing new eyes to hockey while keeping fans engaged. The NY Rangers woke up early in the game, but slacked off late and barely held onto their early 4-1 lead, beating the Washington Capitals 5-3.
The Rangers did finally wake up, with the powerplay and all 18 skaters actually looking like they cared. They dominated the Caps early, getting tons of offensive zone time and playing actual defense. As we noted yesterday, offensive zone time is directly related to better defensive play by simply not being in your own zone. The Rangers proved that early before getting lazy.
A bad change gave the Caps life, and then some bad coverage on the penalty kill made us sweat. But Igor Shesterkin stood tall, flashing the leather on occasion and helping secure a much needed win. Shesterkin and the powerplay ensured the Rangers won, as the even strength product certainly tailed off after the first period.
Rangers 1, Caps 0
The Caps turned the puck over in the offensive zone, but had numbers getting back. Mika Zibanejad did a good job driving the net and had great awareness to stop in the slot to get open for a split second for the feed from Vladimir Tarasenko.
Rangers 1, Caps 1
The Rangers weren’t able to clear the zone, and wound up chasing the puck as a result. This led to Nicolas Aube-Kubel being wide open in the slot to take the pass from Aliaksei Protas and beat Shesterkin (Gramma).
Rangers 2, Caps 1
Beware of Igor Shesterkin’s passing ability. Shesty sprung Artemi Panarin on a rush with his pass, who got around a defender before dishing to Zibanejad, who beat Darcy Kuemper again.
Rangers 3, Caps 1
Nothing fancy here, just some good old fashioned puck movement and a great shot by Kane.
Rangers 4, Caps 1
The Rangers woke up against the Caps and found some rhythm. Kane entered the zone and simply stretched the defense with a short pass to Vincent Trocheck, who found Jacob Trouba in the slot, uncovered, for another slot line pass and goal. Looked cool on the animated side too.
Rangers 4, Caps 2
The Rangers got caught sleeping again, this time courtesy of a bad change. The Caps had numbers in the zone, and TJ Oshie faked out everyone when he didn’t shoot and dished a behind the back pass to Matt Irwin who beat Shesterkin.
Rangers 4, Caps 3
Just when you thought the Caps were done, the Rangers went back to their old ways. Penalties and lazy defensive zone play helped the Caps keep it close, and Nic Dowd was able to get his own rebound after being left open in the slot to not only receive a pass, but take a few seconds to tee it up.
Rangers 5, Caps 3
Jimmy Vesey empty netter.