The Rangers get their first win in the retro Liberty jerseys.
The Last time these two teams faced each other, Mika Zibanejad scored a jaw-dropping five goals and led the Rangers to an overtime win.
The Rangers made some changes since their win against Pittsburgh. Kaapo Kakko, who had been placed on the COVID-19 protocol list, returned to the lineup. As a result, Jonny Brodzinski was sent to the Hartford Wolf Pack.
Probably best of all, the Rangers wore their “Lady Liberty” jerseys for the first time in 14 years. So, how did the Rangers do in the Liberties against the best team in the East?
1st period: Hot start against a hot team
Shesterkin kicked things off by making a great save on the dangerous Alexander Ovechkin less than a minute in.
The Rangers had been dominating, but now also had a man advantage with 15:13 left when Nic Dowd was sent to the box for holding.
Artemi Panarin made a beautiful pass to Zibanejad, who had a solid opportunity and took a nice shot, but Vitek Vanecek showed why he’s been one of the best goalies in the league to start the season.
The first minute of the power play was good, the second not so much.
About halfway through the period, Shesterkin made another fantastic save.
With 5:27 left, Zibanejad was penalized for tripping Tom Wilson, who had been making his presence known all over the ice. The Rangers had been perfect on their last several penalty kills, but the Capitals have one of the best power plays in the NHL.
The Rangers picked up where they left off- this was another good kill.
2nd period: Literally living the dream
The second period began just as the first did: Shesterkin made another really good save in the opening seconds. It was clear that his early save on an all-time great in the first gave him some confidence.
With 14:49 left, the Rangers were awarded their second power play of the night.
They were able to keep the puck in Washington’s zone, but couldn’t get any shots on goal. They were also unable to take advantage of a stick-less Wilson.
Vanecek was noticeably good for the Capitals, making big saves to keep them in the game.
Halfway through the period, Anthony Bitetto scored his first goal as a Ranger and his first since Nov. 2017. He made an amazing play behind the net to take the puck around the boards and maintain control even when he was hit to put the Rangers up 2-0.
This was a magical moment for the lifelong Rangers fan from Island Park, New York.
Kevin Rooney, who recorded an assist on the goal, was now on a three-game point-scoring streak.
The Capitals had a power play not long after. Shesterkin was greeted by an Ovechkin shot to the jaw, but appeared to be fine.
This was a great kill that was capped off with a Vanecek giveaway to Strome, but Strome missed what was basically an empty net wide.
With 5:29 left, K’Andre Miller drew a high-sticking penalty.
This was a mediocre power play but, immediately after, the Rangers were penalized for having too many men on the ice. Alexis Lafrenière served the two-minute minor.
Ryan Lindgren, who had looked great this game, was noticeable on the penalty kill. This was another solid kill by the Rangers.
With just over a minute left, the Rangers were caught on a line change. The puck bounced off former Ranger Carl Hagelin, who was in front of the net, and into the goal. Shesterkin attempted to swipe at it, but completely missed.
The period ended with the Capitals putting pressure on the Rangers in their zone. Shesterkin came up with some nice saves.
In the final ten seconds, Howden was sent to the box, meaning the Rangers would begin the third on the penalty kill.
3rd period: Back in the New York groove
This was yet another good kill by the Rangers, who remained perfect while short-handed.
Miller seems to make a goal-saving play every game. He was able to get his stick in front of a lethal Ovechkin shot in the 13th minute.
Shortly after, Shesterkin made a great save that would be followed by some nice plays by the Rangers forwards.
Kakko, who had been playing the best game of his career, made a fantastic move by reaching out with his stick and getting the puck past Zdeno Chara to Strome for a two-on-one with Panarin, resulting in another goal for Strome.
This line continues to produce.
With nine minutes left, Ovechkin scored a classic Ovechkin goal off the faceoff. He ripped a shot past Shesterkin, who had no chance on the play.
Brenden Dillon committed a terrible tripping penalty on Kakko, but Kakko was also shockingly booked for embellishment. This was a puzzling and, frankly, terrible call by the referees.
On the four-on-four, Panarin gave the puck away to Jakub Vrána, but the Rangers caught a break when his shot hit the post.
During these two minutes, Trouba was caught one-on-one with Ovechkin, but made a huge play to get the puck off the “Great Eight’s” stick.
In the final three minutes, Phillip Di Giuseppe made an excellent effort to maintain possession of the puck and take it into the Capitals’ zone. He made a nice pass to Howden, who was unable to score.
This was followed by a Panarin breakaway attempt but, he too, couldn’t score.
The Rangers finished off the game by making another sequence of great plays.
Miller intelligently got the puck out of New York’s zone and passed it to Panarin, who also made a nice pass to Zibanejad. Zibanejad was able to get it to Pavel Buchnevich, who score an empty-net goal with ease.
The Blueshirts are buzzing.
Key Moment: Big moment for Bitetto
The key moment of the game was Bitetto’s goal that put the Rangers up 2-0. This likely meant a great deal to the New York native, but it was huge for the team, as well.
Bitetto is considered to be more of a defensive-defenseman, so to score such an impressive goal indicates the effort that everyone on the team is putting in to win.
Player of the game: Artemi Panarin
Who but Bread? Even when he doesn’t score goals, Panarin is the best player on the ice. He recorded three assists and had a GF of 1.93 versus a 0.84 xGF, as well as in iXG of 0.25. He had an offensive score of 1.04 and an individual score of 1.94.
Stats are courtesy of Hockey Stat Cards.