Rangers edge Capitals 4-3, take 2-0 lead in 1st-round series

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Washington Capitals at New York Rangers
Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

Mika Zibanejad and Vincent Trocheck each had a goal and an assist to help the New York Rangers edge the Washington Capitals 4-3 in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference First Round on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.

The Rangers have a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 series, maintaining home-ice advantage ahead of Game 3 at Capital One Arena in Washington on Friday night.

“I expected that tonight, kind of the way it played out, physical and some attitude directed inside of the game,” Rangers coach Peter Laviolette said. “I thought our guys responded pretty well. It was a hard-fought game.”

K’Andre Miller scored the eventual game-winning goal while shorthanded in the second period and New York also had two power-play goals in the win. Washington scored two of its three goals on the power play.

Jack Roslovic also scored for the Rangers, and Alexis Lafreniere and Erik Gustafsson each had a pair of assists. Igor Shesterkin made 23 saves, but had his streak of playoff games allowing two goals or fewer at The Garden end at 10.

Tom Wilson scored in the third period to bring the Capitals within one, setting the stage for a wild finish. But Shesterkin and the Rangers held on for a thrilling win.

Wilson added an assist and has three points in the first two games of the series. Connor McMichael and Dylan Strome also scored for Washington and Charlie Lindgren made 23 saves.

Alex Ovechkin again was held off the scoresheet for the Capitals and had only one shot on goal.

Related: Filip Chytil inching closer to return for Rangers

New York Rangers 4 vs. Washington Capitals 3

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Washington Capitals at New York Rangers
Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

The Capitals came out strong, forcing Shesterkin to make a pair of saves on the first shift of the game and five saves in the first five minutes of play. They were rewarded at 5:09, when the Capitals took their first lead of the series after McMichael collected a loose puck in the slot and snapped it past Shesterkin at 5:09.

However, that Capitals lead was short-lived because the Rangers had a quick answer. After an icing call against Washington, Trocheck won an offensive-zone face-off and got lost on the way to the net, where he deflected a Gustafsson pass into the net to tie the game 1-1 at 7:56.

Trocheck then picked up an assist seven minutes later on Zibanejad’s power-play goal, which put the Rangers up 2-1. Lafreniere won a puck battle along the boards, got the puck to Trocheck, who sent it Zibanejad on right wing. His shot from the circle hit the hand of Capitals defenseman Alex Alexeyev and deflected past Lindgren at 14:28.

Washington finished the first period with just one shot on goal after McMichael’s goal, a span of 14:51, as New York asserted its dominance.

The Capitals, though, briefly got some renewed life when Strome went to the net to chip Wilson’s pass past Shesterkin for a power-play goal just 4:14 into the second period. Washington nearly regained the lead under three minutes later, but Shesterkin stopped Martin Fehervary on a breakaway after the defenseman burst out of the penalty box.

Shortly thereafter, the Rangers special teams turned the game decidedly in the home team’s favor. Roslovic wired his first career playoff goal short side over Lindgren’s shoulder at 12:28 of the second. Then Miller buried a Zibanejad feed into the slot for his first NHL shorthanded goal at 16:52 to give the Rangers a 4-2 lead.

The Rangers came close to upping their lead to three goals nine minutes into the third period when Lindgren nonchalantly handled the puck after it was flipped towards his net and Barclay Goodrow alertly swiped at it and chipped a shot that the Capitals goalie scrambled to stop.

That turned out to be a big save because Wilson deflected a Hendrix Lapierre shot into the net for another Washington power-play goal at 11:45 to make it 4-3.

Artemi Panarin, who earlier in the period knocked T.J. Oshie out of the game briefly with a hard clean check, missed the net on a break with 3:15 to play. And after that, the Rangers scrambled to successfully protect their one-goal lead after Washington pulled Lindgren for the extra attacker in the final minutes.

Trocheck led all forwards with 22:40 in ice time and played a dynamic two-way game. Along with his two points, Trocheck had five hits, three shots on goal and won 17 of 25 face-offs (68 percent). Zibanejad led all Rangers with six shots on goal, to go with his two points.

Now, it’s two days off for the Rangers before they head down to D.C. for Games 3 and 4 this weekend.

“We’ll look at things and … see what we can do to get better,” Laviolette said.

Jim Cerny is Executive Editor at Forever Blueshirts and Managing Editor at Sportsnaut, with more than 30 years of... More about Jim Cerny

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