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Rangers keep the streak alive against the Caps; Nash scores first hat trick as a Ranger

Bobby Bevilacqua

MSG pano 12-23

Madison Square Garden was rocking on Tuesday night, and witnessed the Rangers capture their seventh straight win. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

The Rangers (18-10-4) won a thriller against the Washington Capitals (17-11-6) at Madison Square Garden by a final score of 4-2, and extended the win streak to seven games.

The win gave the Rangers at least one point in 11 consecutive game against Metropolitan Division opponents (10-0-1). They have also won 11 of their last 14 games.

The Rangers were led by Rick Nash, who wound up scoring three of the four Rangers goals. Nash was outstanding, and a goal late in the third period on the power play, that was originally credited to Martin St. Louis, gave him his first ever hat trick as a New York Ranger, and a total of 23 goals this season.

Martin St. Louis scored the other goal for the Rangers, which also came on the power play. It was his 11th of the season and gave the Rangers a two goal lead.

Derick Brassard had a good game, looking very energized and active in his third game since returning from the mumps. Mats Zuccarello had one of his best games this year, picking up three assists and playing strong all over the ice.

With Lundqvist back in net, the Rangers continued to play solid team defense in front of him. He faced 21 shots in the third period, stopping 19 of them, and winning his 15th game this season,

lundqvist glove save 12-23

Henrik Lundqvist made 30 saves against the Capitals, including 19 in the third period, and won his sixth consecutive start. Lundqvist now has 15 wins this season. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

The Rangers continued to play very well defensively, from both the forwards and the defensemen limiting chances in the first period, clearing the crease, and forechecking. The Blueshirts defensemen also continue to pick up points, with Dan Boyle getting the primary assist on Martin St. Louis’ first goal.

The first 40 minutes for the Rangers was nearly perfect, playing very quick hockey and taking advantage of the tired Capitals, who were playing their third game in their last four days.

The pressure from the Rangers eventually led to a goal, and it was Rick Nash scoring his first goal of the night and giving the Rangers a one goal lead.

The play started with a tremendous defensive play from Ryan McDonagh, who used his size and strength to push Alexander Ovechkin off of the puck. On the ensuing Rangers rush, Derick Brassard made a great pass to Mats Zuccarello on the left wing. “Zukes” fired a quick shot on net, and it deflected off of Nash’s leg and in.

rick nash celebration 12-23

Rick Nash opened the scoring for the Rangers, deflecting Mats Zuccarello’s shot off of his leg and past Holtby. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

The pressure from the Rangers continued, and they nearly scored on a few other instances. Matt Hunwick hit the post, Kevin Hayes lost the puck after beating Braden Holtby in front and getting hit as a result, and JT Miller was stopped by the skate of Holtby.

The second period was very similar, with the Rangers continuing their great team defense, not allowing the Capitals to establish any offense.

The Rangers took advantage of an early power play opportunity thanks to a boarding call on Alexander Ovechkin. On the ensuing man advantage, Martin St. Louis cashed in for his first goal of the game, snapping his seven game scoreless streak.

A lot of the credit goes to Dan Boyle, who picked up his first assist of the season on the play. Dan Boyle faked a slap shot from the point, which got a lot of the Capitals defenders down to block a shot. He passed it over to St. Louis, who placed a perfect shot top shelf past holtby, giving the Blueshirts a two goal lead.

martin st louis goal celebration 12-23

Martin St. Louis scored the first of his two goals thanks to a fantastic pass from Dan Boyle, and a well placed shot past Holtby on the power play. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

The Rangers jumped out to a 17-8 lead in shots, and St. Louis came close to scoring again, hitting the post on a power play opportunity.

The third period is where the Capitals began to turn the game around. Immediately, the Caps came out eager to create some offense, and had nine shots on goal in the first three minutes, but did not score.

However, Rick Nash took advantage of a chance and scored on a beautiful wrist shot, giving him his second goal of the night.

Zuccarello chipped the puck along the boards, and Brassard challenged Bruce Orpik. Nash was able to collect the puck and placed a wrist shot underneath the blocker of Holtby, who was screened by his own defenseman. The Rangers had scored three consecutive goals, and Nash had his 58th career two goal game.

rick nash shooting 12-23

Rick Nash scored his second goal of the game on a beautiful wrist shot that found its way past a screened Holtby. The goal gave him 22 for the year. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

Just 41 seconds later, the Capitals answered back with a goal of their own. Evgeni Kutsnetzov threw a puck on net which snuck through Lundqvist’s pads and in, putting the Capitals on the board.

On a power play chance later in the period, The Caps struck again. Alex Ovechkin shot through a screen, banged the puck off of the post and in, cutting the Rangers lead to just one goal.

The Capitals had a 14-2 shot advantage almost 12 minutes into the game, and had spent most of the third period in the Rangers zone.

The turning point of the game came when Nicklas Backstrom took a double minor penalty for high sticking, giving the Rangers a four minute power play. On the faceoff, they took another penalty for passing the puck with the hand, and the Blueshirts suddenly had a two minute five-on-three.

They took advantage of that chance, and Rick Nash finished the hat trick, picking up his second goal of the period, and his third of the game. Nash fired a one-timer off of the post, and the puck went on top of Holtby’s glove as he was trying to make a save. St. Louis hit his glove, knocking the puck into the back of the net, and finishing Rick Nash’s hat trick. The goal gave the Blueshirts a two goal lead with less than four minutes remaining.

st louis second goal in 12-23

Rick Nash’s final goal came on a power play opportunity late in the third period. St. Louis was able to push the puck off of Holtby’s glove and into the net. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

New York would hold onto the lead, and capture their seventh consecutive victory.

Despite a third period where they were outshot 21-9, the Rangers still managed to score twice in that period and pull out a win. They also scored a total of four goals against one of hottest goalies in the league, and shut down the Capitals second overall power play.

Henrik Lundqvist stopped 30 shots against an extremely high powered capitals offense. Although he had one bad goal in the third period, he was quite spectacular in the third period, and was definitely a difference maker in the win.

Mats Zuccarello had a tremendous game, picking up two primary assists and four takeaways. Zukes has really picked up his game since the start of the road trip, and is helping solidify the first line.

 

zuccarello 12-23

Mats Zuccarello has been playing much better since the Rangers road trip, and continues to be a producsive member of the Blueshirts top line. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

Zuccarellos two assists put himat 111 career NHL points, which ties him with Espen Knutsen for the most by a Norwegian born player in the NHL.

I felt as if this was the first game in which Derick Brassard looked like himself again. After he returned from the mumps, he was a bit sluggish and behind a step or two. Tonight, he looked very energetic, had three assists after the scoring change, and looked like the Derick Brassard of old.

Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi were phenomenal, with Girardi really standing out in the game. The Rangers top defensive pair were constantly paired against Ovechkin and Backstrom, shutting them down in the process. Kevin Klein was also strong, blocking four shots in the game.

Martin St. Louis scored the first power play goa for the Rangersl, and helped Rick Nash finish off his hat trick late in the third period. St. Louis had not scored in the past seven games, and a game like this could jump start his scoring again. He also played very well defensively, most notably a back checking play on a breaking Alex Ovechkin. When St. Louis is productive, the Rangers are a much better team.

st louis 12-23

Martin St. Louis had a fantastic game on both sides of the puck, and his contributions all over the ice helped lead the Rangers to a big win over the Washington Capitals. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

Of course, Rick Nash led the Rangers on the ice yet again tonight. His three goals put him at 23 for the year, and he now has 36 points this season (23-13-36). He also is a tremendous defender, and showed that throughout the game. Although Nash didn’t get to celebrate the hat trick at the Garden, he still managed to earn his first three goal performance as a Ranger. and continues his tremendous first half of the season.

The Rangers are now 11-3-2 with Dan Boyle in the lineup this season, and are 9-1-0 when Dan Boyle and Ryan McDonagh are both in the lineup.

The Rangers will take a break for the holidays, and will play again on Saturday against the New Jersey Devils (12-17-7) at Madison Square Garden.

THREE STARS

1) Rick Nash – 3 G, 18:18 TOT

2) Martin St. Louis – 1 G, 5 SOG

3) Mats Zuccarello – 2 A, 1 BS, 4 TK

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Posted on December 24, 2014, in Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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