What to make of last night’s Rangers game? The Rangers dominated, to be sure, seizing the game with a four-goal second period and seven tallies on the night. Henrik Lundqvist bounced back from allowing the game winner from behind the net in Columbus on Saturday with a sharp outing (albeit one in which he was assisted on a few occasions by his goalposts and crossbar). The Rangers, who this season seem to take two steps forward but then one step back, upped their record in the second half of back-to-back games to an amazing 8–0. But one gets the sense that they could have beaten the Caps last night with much less of an effort.
Semyon Varlamov allowed seven goals on just twenty shots and remained in net all night because his backup fell ill just before game time. (What, was no one from the team’s web staff on hand to suit up?) Alex Ovechkin, meanwhile, made headlines not for any goals — the pairing of Dan Girardi and first star Marc Staal kept him in check; he’s scored just twice in his last fourteen games — but for dropping the gloves for the second time in his career, fighting Brandon Dubinsky in the second period. The Caps have lost six straight and, for what it’s worth in December, have seen their lead in the Southeast Division shrink to just three points.
But still, the Rangers took full advantage, scoring on the power play (Marian Gaborik) and while short-handed (Staal), on odd-man rushes (Ryan Callahan), and from in the slot (Artem Anisimov). It was as easy a game as they’ll ever play against Washington, who, adding injury to insult, lost Ovechkin in the third after he was hit by an Alexander Semin slapshot. These two teams next meet on January 24 in Washington. Expect that game to be considerably more competitive.