Another Point – Tonight’s Capitals/Rangers game at Verizon Center certainly wasn’t the most scintillating hockey game any of us have ever seen. It was fought largely in the trenches, along the walls and in the corners. It certainly didn’t deserve a shootout finish, but that’s what it got. The Rangers won the skills show and the standings will reflect a 2-1 New York win.
With the consolation point, Washington has now taken at least a point in five straight (3-0-2) and 15 of its last 18 games (9-3-6).
After winning their first five overtime or shootout decisions of 2010-11, the Capitals have now dropped seven straight and nine of their last 10.
Making his third start in a row, 21-year-old Caps rookie goalie Braden Holtby limited the opposition to a single goal for the third straight time. He deserved a better fate, and might have gotten it had his teammates been able to scrape together one more goal somewhere along the way, during the 65 minutes of actual hockey that were played tonight.
Washington had just 11 shots on goal after the game’s first 40 minutes, but it held a 1-0 lead thanks to Matt Hendricks’ seventh goal of the season and second in as many games. In the second minute of the second period, Hendricks chipped a nice Marcus Johansson feed past New York netminder Martin Biron to give the Caps a 1-0 lead.
That slimmest of margins held up until 13:19 of the third when New York’s Brian Boyle launched a shot from the right point. The shot took on a wacky trajectory, hitting the Rangers’ Marian Gaborik and the Caps’ Karl Alzner in front and popping into the air. When it landed, it fell behind Holtby and in the net. Off-ice officials reviewed the goal, but it was deemed legal and good.
“It was a lucky bounce,” says Hendricks, “a fluke goal on their part, but they had been getting pretty close. They had a lot of shots. They were outplaying us in the attack zone.”
After that, the Rangers scored more “goals” with only two people on the ice than the Caps did.
“I’ll take this one,” says Hendricks of the point. “We got a point out of it, but I’m not satisfied. I’m not happy.”
Gold In Goal – Washington is the first team in NHL history with four or more wins from three different goaltenders aged 22 or younger. In holding the opposition to one goal for the third straight time, Holtby lowered his GAA to 2.47 on the season and raised his save pct. to .908.
The Glengarry Leads – In his first five NHL appearances (four starts), Holtby enjoyed the lead for less than nine of his 203 minutes in net.
In starting the last three consecutive games for Washington, Holtby has been the beneficiary of the lead for 132:44 of the 185 minutes he’s played in those contests.
King Me – Caps winger D.J. King played in his 12th game of the season tonight, matching his total for 2009-10. Tonight’s contest was also his fourth in succession, his longest run of successive NHL contests since he played 12 straight for the St. Louis Blues nearly three years ago, from March 8 through April 1, 2008.
Through two periods of tonight’s game against the Rangers, King had logged 6:01 in ice time. That’s more than he logged for the entire night of seven of his prior 11 appearances this season.
Although he did not play in the third, King (salary cap hit of $637,500) logged just 3:45 less than Rangers captain/fourth liner Chris Drury (salary cap hit of $7,050,000).
No. 1 – Caps defenseman Scott Hannan has been stellar for Washington in his own end over the last month. Tonight, he notched his first point as a member of the Caps with an assist on Hendricks’ goal.
Ironically, Hannan has picked up each of his last three points against the Rangers. While still with Colorado, he had a pair of helpers in a Nov. 19 game against the Rangers in Denver.
Power Outage – The Caps are now up to 26 straight games without getting more than one power play goal in a contest, their longest such drought since a 28-game run nine years ago at this time. The Caps were 0-for-2 with one shot on goal with the extra man on Monday vs. New York.
The Capitals are 9-for-85 (10.6%) with the extra man in those 26 games.
Washington is just 1-for-18 (5.6%) with the extra man in its last eight games.
Still The Same – Earlier this season, the Capitals went 23 straight games with at least one lineup change.
In tonight’s game against the Rangers, the Caps trotted out the same 18 skaters and two goaltenders for the third straight game, a rarity this season.
Slow Starts – Tonight’s game marked the 13th straight road game in which the Rangers did not have a lead after 20 minutes of play.
Old Home Week – Two NHL pro scouts and an NHL assistant coach with ties to the Capitals were in the house at Verizon on Monday to witness the Caps/Rangers tilt.
Blair Mackasey of the Minnesota Wild and Doug Gibson of the Montreal Canadiens were among the scouts at Verizon Center for Monday’s game.
Mackasey, a defenseman, was Washington’s fourth-round (55th overall) choice in the 1975 NHL Entry Draft. Mackasey turned pro in 1975-76, splitting the season between the Capitals’ two farm clubs, the AHL’s Richmond Robins and the Dayton Gems of the IHL. Just over a year after he was drafted, the Caps sold him to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Mackasey played in his lone NHL contest in 1976-77 with the Leafs. He spent most of that season with the Dallas Blackhawks of the CHL where his teammates included future NHL head coaches Boudreau, Randy Carlyle and Ron Wilson. Roger Neilson was the head coach of that Dallas team.
Mackasey also played two years of pro baseball in the Montreal Expos’ farm system.
Originally drafted by the Boston Bruins in 1973 (third round, 36th overall), Gibson broke into the NHL with the Bruins in 1973-74. Waived by the Bruins after he racked up 41 goals and 97 points with the AHL’s Rochester Americans in 1976-77, the Caps claimed Gibson off waivers on May 29, 1977.
Sporting sweater No. 29, Gibson got into 11 games – the final games of his NHL career -- with the 1977-78 Capitals. He totaled two goals and three points with Washington. Beginning with that 1977-78 season, Gibson spent the next three campaigns with Washington’s Hershey farm club in the WHL.
When the Caps promoted Bears coach Gary Green to head coach of the Washington club early in the 1979-80 season to replace Danny Belisle as the Capitals’ bench boss, Gibson became the Bears’ player/coach. He ended up leading the Bears to a Calder Cup championship in 1980 in his final season as a North American pro.
Finally, Rangers assistant coach Jim Schoenfeld watched the game from the press box as well. Schoenfeld served as the bench boss of four NHL teams, the third of which was the Capitals. He replaced Terry Murray behind the Washington bench on Jan. 27, 1994 and remained there through the end of the 1996-97 season when Wilson replaced him.
By The Numbers – The top seven teams in the Eastern Conference standings are separated by just 10 points … Ovechkin had six of Washington’s 23 shots on goal for the night … John Erskine led the Caps with five hits … John Carlson led the Caps with four blocked shots … Mike Green led all skaters on both sides with 29:19 in ice time, just ahead of New York’s Marc Staal (29:09) … Boyle led the Rangers with five shots on goal … Staal and Michael Sauer paced the Rangers with four blocked shots each.
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