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Takeaways: Capitals Missing Jump In Lackluster Loss To Rangers

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The Capitals had a tough night against the Rangers

Thursday was not the Washington Capitals’ night. In their first game back from a bye week, Washington hoped to keep the momentum from back-to-back wins before the break going in a key Metropolitan Division matchup against the New York Rangers.

However, the Capitals couldn’t find a spark at Madison Square Garden, and despite the return of T.J. Oshie and, Washington fell 4-1 in a lackluster showing. It was a tough loss, especially given the standings and the race in the Metro with the playoff push in full swing.

Here are all the takeaways from the defeat:

Capitals Power Play Comes Up Empty Again

Washington had a number of opportunities to get back into the game on the power play but just couldn’t convert. There were rarely any second chances or connected passes, and there didn’t appear to be much jump or movement. Not only that, the Capitals gave up a number of shorthanded chances the other way, and would often find themselves on the backcheck.

After coming up short on the first two attempts — and having no shots on the second — replaced John Carlson with Justin Schultz on PP1. However, Igor Shesterkin stood tall, not giving the Capitals much of anything.

Washington ended the night 0-for-4 on the man advantage. The team generated just three shots at 5-on-4.

Ovechkin Gets On Board, But Capitals Can’t Get Past Shesterkin

Despite the score and a lack of spark, the Capitals did generate quite a few scoring chances. They registered 37 shots on goal and got a number of chances, but Shesterkin was outstanding with 36 stops.

Alex Ovechkin was able to spoil the shutout late in the third period on a redirect in front to make it 4-1. It was his 32nd goal and 63rd point of the season, and he is now five goals shy of passing Jaromir Jagr for the third-most goals in NHL history. Evgeny Kuznetsov picked up his 34th assist of the season on the play.

Ovechkin and Kuznetsov were tied for the team lead in shots (5). There were also a couple of breakaway chances and open nets, but Shesterkin stood tall, and the Capitals couldn’t make the most of their opportunities. The spark and drive was missing.

Samsonov, Capitals Have Tough Night In Own End

Washington also struggled on defense. Ilya Samsonov stopped just 17 of 21 shots (.810 save percentage), and the defense appeared to struggle at times, too. There was no jump, and there were quite a few missed assignments and poor reads.

The Capitals also got outplayed physically, with New York piling on 24 hits as Washington managed just 17. There were odd-man breaks, missed pucks, turnovers and more that led to more opportunities and ultimately, results for the Blueshirts.

Oshie Returns For Capitals

The Capitals did get a welcome sight as Oshie came back for his first game since Jan. 15. He made some big plays and made himself noticeable out there, picking up two shots and two hits through 19:52 minutes. He also won four of six faceoffs (67 percent).

Despite the extra energy, the team couldn’t get much going on the man advantage.

Sammi’s Top Shelf Takes

  • Conor Sheary and Ryan Lindgren ended up dropping the gloves as frustration boiled over late. Both were sent off early with matching roughing penalties, but it would have been Sheary’s first NHL fight.

  • Carlson led all skaters in ice time with 23:05 minutes, but it was far from his best night, as he was a minus-2 and also got taken off the first power-play unit as the team looked to get some momentum going.
  • On the bright side, Nic Dowd remained strong in the face-off dot, winning eight of nine draws (88 percent). He and Martin Fehervary were also tied for the team lead in hits (3).
  • Trevor van Riemsdyk led Washington with three blocks.
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