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Rangers finish historic season with 4-2 win in DC; Hayes and Moore impress

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers vs capitals 4-11

The Rangers and the Capitals battled it out in the final game of the season, with the Rangers coming away with their 53rd win of the season, breaking some franchise records along the way. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

The Rangers (53-22-7) closed out their remarkable season on a positive note, taking down the Washington Capitals (45-26-11) on the road, setting new franchise records in the process.

The victory established new franchise records in wins (53) and points (113) in a season, eclipsing the 52 wins and 112 points set by the 1993-94 Rangers team, a team that ultimately went on to win the Stanley Cup. This Rangers team knows that despite the fantastic regular season, they will ultimately be judged on what they do in the playoffs.

This marked the Rangers 28th road win of the season, also a franchise record, and tying an NHL record for most road wins an Eastern Conference team has earned in one season.

Henrik Lundqvist was the starting goalie, and also wound up accomplishing a pretty impressive feat. Despite starting just 46 games this season, Lundqvist earned his 30th win of the season. In every full, 82 game season he has participated in, he has earned 30 wins or more. Lundqvist is the only goalie to accomplish this feat in NHL history. Even though he missed nearly two months of games, he still was able to win 30 games, further cementing himself as one of the elite goalies in the NHL.

Although this game had no playoff implications for the Rangers, they came out with intensity, matching the Capitals jump, outplaying and outhustling them early. The Capitals came out very aggressive as well, hitting hard and a little bit dirty at times, but the Rangers brushed that off, coming away with a win. This was a matchup of two teams that clearly don’t like each other, and a potential playoff matchup down the road.

The Rangers wound up opening the scoring, and it was Kevin Hayes scoring a beautiful goal, his 17th of his fantastic rookie campaign. It was Hayes starting the play, battling with the Capitals’ Niskanen and getting the puck out to Martin St. Louis, who quickly passed it off to McDonagh for a one-timer. Braden Holtby stopped it with a pad, but Kevin Hayes backhanded the puck out of midair and into the back of the net.

kevin hayes goal celebration 4-11

Dan Girardi congratulates Kevin Hayes after the rookie scored his 17th goal of the season, backhanding the puck out of midair. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

 

Just a couple minutes later, Derick Brassard added to the Rangers lead with a power play goal of his own. Brassard’s goal set a new career high with 19, snapping his personal record of 18 set last year. It was also the 100th goal of Brassard’s career. The goal gave him 60 points (19-41-60) for the first time in his career. Brassard tied Rick Nash for second on the team in power play goals (6), and leads the team in power play points (18).

Dan Girardi made a great play to glove the puck down at the blue line. After cycling the puck, it came out to Derick Brassard at the point, and after skating towards the middle of the ice, he blasted a slap shot through a maze of people and off the post and in, giving the Rangers a 2-0 lead that they took to the locker room.

Dan Boyle picked up an assist on the play, giving him 20 points this season. That made it five Rangers defensemen with 20 or more points in the same season, the first time they have done that since the 1984-85 season. The Rangers defensemen with 20 points or higher are; Ryan McDonagh – 33, Kevin Klein – 26, Dan Boyle – 20, Marc Staal – 20, Dan Girardi – 20.

derick brassard goal celebration 4-11

Derick Brassard scored on the power play to give the Rangers a two goal lead in the first period. Brassard set a new career high in goals, as well as scoring his 100th career NHL goal. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

 

Just a few minutes into the second period, the Rangers got another goal, and it was the fourth line chipping in with another goal. The Rangers forecheck was strong, and Martin St. Louis, who was just coming on the ice, made a great play to poke check the puck into the Capitals zone. Dominic Moore was there, and he went top shelf with his backhand on a gorgeous shot for his 10th goal of the season, and a 3-0 Rangers lead.

The Capitals went on the power play a few minutes later, and to nobody’s surprise, Alex Ovechkin cut the lead to two with a one-timer from the left faceoff circle. The goal was his 53rd of the season, and he will take home the Rocket Richard trophy by a long shot.

That goal seemed to give the fans and the Capitals some energy, but the Rangers did a good job of not letting it get to them, and battling through the game.

With the net empty for Washington, and the fourth line on the ice, Tanner Glass blocked a shot, and passed the puck to Dominic Moore. Moore sent a saucer pass over the stick of a Capitals defenseman, and Jesper Fast hustled to tuck in his sixth goal of the season, sealing the win for the Rangers.

The Capitals would manage to score a late goal, and it was Stanislav Galiev scoring the first goal of his NHL career, tapping in a wide shot off the boards just before Lundqvist could get his pad over. But it was too little, too late, and the Rangers won their 53rd game of the season.

It was really impressive to see the Rangers match the Capitals intensity level in a game that theoretically didn’t mean anything. The Rangers didn’t need the points, and didn’t need to block shots and pressure like they did, but the effort allowed them to head into the playoffs with some momentum.

The fourth line was good again today. With each passing game, the fourth line continues to grow and build chemistry. Dominic Moore, who is one of the most unappreciated players on this team, scored his 10th goal of the season, giving him 27 points in all 82 games this season. He’s also heating up at the right time, with six points (4-2-6) in the last six games. They were also able to raise their aggressiveness while the Capitals were throwing elbows and crosschecks, with Tanner Glass dropping the gloves against Tim Gleason. It was a great game for them, and the trio of Tanner Glass, Dominic Moore and Jesper Fast will be extremely important come playoff time.

dominic moore 3-11

Dominic Moore had another fantastic game along with the rest of the fourth line, as the combination of Tanner Glass, Dominic Moore and Jesper Fast continue to grow together. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

 

I thought Martin St. Louis had a fantastic game today. The two assists gave him 52 points (21-31-52) in his 17th NHL season. Marty’s passing was crisp, he was skating very well, and he was involved on the power play. St. Louis’ experience and performance was extremely important in last year’s playoff run, and it will be again this year.

Kevin Hayes is incredible. Not many other ways to put it. In his first NHL season, learning to play the center position, Hayes finished with 45 points (17-28-45) in 79 games. While most players coming out of college slow down at the end of the year as a result of playing an 82 game season for the first time, Hayes’ game picked up as he continued to grow. Since the All Star break, Kevin Hayes has actually led all Rangers players in points with 29 (11-18-29) since January 27th. Hayes heads into the playoffs with six points (2-4-6) in the last four games.

Lastly, Derick Brassard has not been talked about enough for the tremendous season that he has had. Setting career highs in goals (19), assists (41), and points (60), Brassard stepped up when Stepan was out, and really took over the first line center role. He leads the Rangers in power play points (18) and assists, is second in goals, and second on the team in scoring. It’s not often that a player has a quiet 60 point season in the league, but Brass has done exactly that, and has been a huge part of the Rangers success.

derick brassard 3-29

Derick Brassard has been one of the Rangers best players this season, posting career highs in goals, assists, and points to help lead the Rangers to the top of the standings. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

Depth is key, and that may be the Rangers biggest strength. With Dominic Moore’s 10th goal of the season, the Rangers now have 10 different players with 10 goals or more (Nash – 42, St. Louis – 21, Kreider – 21, Brassard – 19, Hayes – 17, Hagelin – 17, Stepan -16, Zuccarello – 15, Miller – 10, Moore – 10). The depth in the lineup is one of the Rangers biggest strengths, and their ability to score on all four lines is a huge weapon.

Get ready for the playoffs Rangers fans, it’s going to be one fun ride.

THREE STARS

1) Dominic Moore – 1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG, +2, 12:49 TOT

2) Kevin Hayes – 1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG, 16:51 TOT

3) Derick Brassard – 1 G, 6 SOG, 15:42 TOT

HONORABLE MENTION: Martin St. Louis – 2 A, +2, 5 SOG, 17:00 TOT

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Posted on April 11, 2015, in Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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