The Washington Capitals showed signs of finally getting used to their new defensive style this weekend in wins over the New York Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs. Monday against the New York Rangers, it seemed as though it might work again, but after giving up the tying goal late, the Caps could not hold on as they fell to the Rangers 2-1 in a shootout.
After a scoreless first period that saw both teams struggle to get any sort of offensive flow, Matt Hendricks struck first early in the second. Hendricks broke the stalemate at 1:27 off of a redirect from Marcus Johansson. Johansson fired a cross-ice pass from the point as the Rangers pressured the right side of the ice. Hendricks was alone on the left side of the crease and tapped in the pass past Martin Biron for his seventh goal of the season. Scott Hannan was credited with the secondary assist, making it his first point as a member of the Caps since the team acquired him November 30.
Braden Holtby, who made 28 saves in total, kept the Capitals in the lead with some stellar saves. The Rangers had a difficult time beating Holtby, but sometimes it's better to be lucky than to be good.
Marian Gaborik finally put the Rangers on the scoreboard at 13:19 of the third period after the puck caromed off of him and into the net. Brian Boyle fired a shot from the point that deflected off of Holtby. As Gaborik was attempting to establish position in front of the crease, the puck glanced off of his glove and stick and into the goal. Neither Gaborik nor Holtby knew where the puck was until the red light behind the net illuminated. The goal was reviewed, but the call on the ice stood to give Gaborik his 16th goal of the season.
After a scoreless overtime, the two teams would trade goals in a shootout. After Biron made the initial stop on Ovechkin, Wojtek Wolski would turn Holtby inside out to give the Rangers an early advantage. Matt Hendricks would tie the score on a move similar to his breakaway goal Saturday against Toronto, but Mats Zuccarello would also make Holtby look foolish to restore the Rangers' lead. Nicklas Backstrom would knot up the score once again and after trading misses, the Rangers would prevail as Artem Anisimov would beat Holtby to win the game for New York.
The Capitals have one more game before this weekend's All-Star Game and it is an important one; Washington will travel to Atlanta to face the Thrashers Wednesday in a divisional matchup.