Caps-Rangers highlights: Caps' winning streak snapped
There are probably a hundred little plays that determine the fate of a hockey game and in the third period of Sunday night’s game against the Rangers, Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner was part of one of them.
With 4:18 gone in the period and the two teams locked in a tie game, Alzner went into the corner with Brad Richards and as he went to check him into the boards, his stick found its way between Richards’ legs and the rangers’ center went down.
Alzner threw his hands up in disgust and went to the penalty box. Seven seconds later Derek Stepan scored the game-winning goal for the Rangers on a beautiful passing play from Richards and Michal Del Zotto.
“It’s tough,” Alzner said after the Capitals’ 2-1 loss at MadisonSquareGarden, a defeat that snapped their modest three-game win streak. “I understand why he called it. The only thing you can hope is that he gives you the benefit of the doubt that it’s a hockey play.
“I’m going to check a guy and he tries jumps over my stick or steps on it, whatever he does. You just hope that they read the play the way I read it, but they didn’t.”
Capitals coach Adam Oates didn’t like the call but he made it clear his players can’t be putting themselves in positions that can cost hockey games.
“Bottom line is you've gotta be in control and you can't take penalties,” Oates said.
Stepan’s goal ruined a spectacular performance by Braden Holtby, who stopped 38 shots in the loss, his fifth of the season against four wins.
“He’s a good goalie,” said Rangers winger Rick Nash who was stopped eight times by Holtby. “He comes out and challenges you pretty good. Really, during the whole game, he was pretty effective.”
The Caps generated 28 shots on Henrik Lundqvist, including a team-high of seen by Alex Ovechkin, but the veteran netminder was equally acrobatic in improving his record to 7-5-0.
The Capitals opened the scoring on their second shot of the game when John Carlson rifled a Mike Ribeiro pass into the left side of the net. But they took three straight penalties in the opening period to kill any momentum and allowed the Rangers to take control of the game.
“A lot of guys are using a lot of energy killing penalties,” Oates said. “Nick [Backstrom] and Troy [Brouwer], guys that we need at the other end, especially.”
While Oates said most of the Rangers’ shots came from the perimeter, the home team clearly owned the better chances in the game and won the physical battle as well, outhitting the Caps 34-22, led by captain Ryan Callahan’s six body blows.
“We took too many penalties again and as a result they got a power-play goal for the winner,” Brouwer said.
The Rangers’ first goal of the game came on their 30th shot and came when Carl Hagelin slid behind Caps defenseman Tom Poti and redirected Ryan McDonagh’s snap-pass past Holtby.
So what should the Caps take out of the loss, which comes before a three-day break in the schedule?
"I still think we could've played a lot better,” Oates said. “We obviously did some good things, but we took too many penalties and it ended up costing us.”