Caps top the Rangers 4-1 at the Garden

Caps top the Rangers 4-1 at the Garden
December 8, 2013, 9:45 pm
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NEW YORK -- Instant analysis of the Capitals’ 4-1 win over the New York Rangers Sunday night at Madison Square Garden:

How it happened: The Caps cranked out three goals in the second period – one each by Jason Chimera, Steve Oleksy and Mikhail Grabovski – and rookie goaltender Philipp Grubauer came within 1:53 of his first NHL shutout while earning his first NHL victory. Left wing Eric Fehr also scored for the Caps, his fifth of the season.

What it means: The Caps [16-12-2, 34 points] created some distance between themselves and the Rangers [15-15-1, 31 points] in the Metropolitan Division standings. They are now in second place in the division, six points behind the Penguins, who have played one more game.

Gruby-dooby-doo: Grubauer [30 saves on 31 shots] was air tight in his second career start. He made a nice pad save on a Ryan Callahan backhander late in the first period but his biggest stops came in the second period. After Chimera and Oleksy scored 25 seconds apart to give the Caps a 2-0 lead Grubauer kicked out a Callahan slapper, then recovered to smother a Michael Del Zotto rebound shot. The 22-year-old German lost his shutout bid with 1:53 remaining in the final period when Benoit Pouliot redirected a point shot from Michael Del Zotto past Grubauer.

Broken crown: After shutting out the Capitals for 10 straight periods dating back to Game 5 of the 2013 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist allowed back-to-back goals by Chimera and Oleksy just 25 seconds apart, ending a streak of 93 consecutive saves against the Caps.

Grab-tastic: Grabovski’s goal, his ninth of the season, came on his fourth career penalty shot. Grabovski was stopped on all three previous attempts as a Toronto Maple Leaf, so he skated into the hash marks and blasted a slap shot from 10 feet away into the top right corner of the net. Lundqvist never had a prayer and probably is thankful he didn’t get a [broken] hand on it. Grabovski goal was the 8th penalty shot goal on 33 attempts in the NHL this season.

Ovi vs. Nash: Alex Ovechkin and Rick Nash got into a little tussle near the end of the second period. Nash took issue with an Ovechkin body check and gave Ovechkin a little tap on the skates. The two met again and Nash took a gloved swipe at Ovechkin’s face. Ovechkin followed with a harder left to Nash’s face and laughed at him as they went off for roughing.

O from Stevie O: Oleksy picked up a goal and an assist in his first game in the lineup after seven healthy scratches. His goals was a seeing-eye wrist shot that found the top right corner of the net. Lundqvist never saw it and never moved. Oleksy became the third Caps defenseman in two nights to score his first goal of the season. Nate Schmidt and Karl Alzner netted their first goals Saturday night.

Fourth liner muscle: The Caps’ fourth line of Aaron Volpatti, Jay Beagle and Tom Wilson didn’t get on the scoresheet but the three forwards hounded the Rangers with a ferocious forecheck all night.

Train ride from…: It was an interesting weather adventure on the rails of Amtrak Sunday, from light snow at Union Station to a whiteout in Philadelphia and hardly a flurry inManhattan. All told, 4 hours and 20 minutes didn’t seem too bad.

Look ahead: The Caps will get a complete day off on Monday before hitting the ice Tuesday for their game against the Steven Stamkos-less Tampa Bay Lightning.