Pavelec Outduels Grubauer In Shootout Thriller At The Garden

CSN Washington

Here is our recap of the Rangers 1-0 shootout win over the Washington Capitals.

Rick Nash – The veteran power forward did everything but score in this one, even getting to have a nice chat with Capitals goaltender Philip Grubauer.

Nash recorded six shots on net and three hits against the Metro division rivals and showed why he still has a lot of value for this team. His ability to drive the net and generate scoring chances are two things that the Rangers forward group counts on the 33-year-old forward to do. All Nash has to do now is start burying these chances.

Chris Kreider – Though not apparent at first, at least to this writer’s eyes, Chris Kreider sustained an injury in the first period. Kreider was involved in a logjam of players digging for a loose puck at the top of the crease when he immediately skated towards the Rangers bench. Kreider never left the locker room after that point and hysteria set in on the Twittersphere. But as most people were freaking out that Kreider had been traded mid-game, it turns out that not only was he “merely” injured, but also, the NHL’s holiday roster freeze didn’t end until 12:00 AM on Thursday. Hopefully this injury isn’t too serious for Kreider and the Blueshirts, but either way, Jeff Gorton will need to bring up a player from Hartford to fill out the Rangers forward group.

JT Miller – If you looked at the boxscore alone, you would say that JT Miller had a decent game. Three shots on net, two takeaways, and three giveaways don’t exactly scream “all-world performance.” But Miller was able to make plays that not only benefited the team but also got the MSG crowd into an uproar. JT made two reverse hits on Alexander Ovechkin, did a great job to avoid the Capitals while waiting for reinforcements in the offensive zone, and drew a penalty on the Capitals’ captain with 24 seconds to go in overtime. Miller has been moved around the lineup all season and his ability to play both wing and center is something that Alain Vigneault is using to benefit his team.

Line Combinations – With the Rangers coming back from the holiday break on a two-game losing skid, Alain Vigneault was looking to jumpstart his team. So at the morning skate on Wednesday, AV rolled out the following lines. And as you would imagine, Rangers fans on social media went nuts.

When asked about the shakeup by reporters, Vigneault said this:

“I felt coming back here – there were a couple modifications on the lines, but a lot of guys have played together before and have played well,” he said following the team’s morning skate. “In our last game we had some good moments but I felt like we needed to be a little more consistent. I think this is – after a three-day break where we haven’t practiced, we’ll catch everyone’s attention. It’ll be good communication between new linemates and new D pairs and should be good to go.” –

After watching the Rangers performance in this game, there is no doubt that the team responded as good, if not better than, expected. The forwards had a lot of jump in their game, working to get on the forecheck and to win board battles, making sure to come back on defense to break up plays, and not being afraid to give up the body. This was one of the most complete games the Rangers have played all season, and if these are the lines that get the Blueshirts playing this way, then there should be no rush to switch them up again.

Team Defense – Much like the forwards, the defense had one of it’s best games of the year as well. All six defensemen recorded at least one hit, Brendan Smith and Nick Holden combined for five shots on net, and the three pairings combined for five takeaways. Ryan McDonagh, who was playing in his 500th NHL game, had seven blocked shots and was stout defensively against the Ovechkin and Backstrom tandem. The defense also did a very good job of clearing the front of the net to allow Ondrej Pavelec to see the puck off the release and make the save. The defense responded well to AV’s changes and they will need to play this way not just in front of Pavelec, but in front of Henrik Lundqvist as well.

Ondrej Pavelec – He was told that he was starting this game by the Rangers coaches a week ago so that he would come here today ready to play.” And boy was he ever ready to play. Pavelec made all 30 saves, including this stop on Ovechkin in overtime.

Pavelec got some help from his post in the extra frame when John Carlson’s wraparound went off of the far pipe and out. But Pavelec was on his “A-game” against the division rivals, earning his third win of the season. The Czech goaltender has done an admirable job playing second-fiddle to King Henrik, and is going to be needed as the season wears on to give Lundqvist some needed rest during the playoff push.

Next Game: The Rangers end 2017 with their first visit to Little Ceasers Arena to face the Red Wings on Friday. Puck drops at 7:30!


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