NEW YORK —Vitek Vanecek wasn’t intended to be aspect of the Washington Capitals’ goaltending duo to commence the time. The plan had Ilya Samsonov sharing time with Henrik Lundqvist, the previous Rangers star regarded around the league — and specifically about New York — as “The King.”
But all those programs altered when Lundqvist, who signed with the Capitals in Oct, declared in December that a heart issue would force him to overlook the time. Vanecek was thrust back into the image.
So it was fitting that Vanecek discovered himself in internet Thursday night time on the ice that Lundqvist came to call his have although building his legend about 15 a long time in a Rangers sweater. The Capitals rookie was reliable, turning aside 27 of 30 photographs, but Washington’s offense struggled in a 4-2 decline at Madison Sq. Yard.
“I thought we were being a small sluggish obtaining out of the gate,” Capitals Coach Peter Laviolette reported. “Odds were pretty even, but just zone time I imagine went a little bit extra to them. . . . Just created a miscalculation listed here or two all through the program of the recreation and finished up costing us.”
The Capitals dug by themselves a 2- gap halfway as a result of the 2nd period of time and never had been capable to get even, despite Alex Ovechkin’s 709th occupation goal midway through the final period that cut their deficit to 3-2.
The loss was the next straight for the Capitals (6-2-3), who went undefeated in regulation as a result of their 1st nine. The Rangers improved to 4-4-2.
[Thrust into a starting role, Capitals rookie goaltender Vitek Vanecek is off to a stellar start]
Vanecek, when obtaining his share of well timed will save, was not flawless. The rookie has allowed a few or much more aims in 7 of his nine starts off.
The Capitals ongoing to be hamstrung by their penchant for getting penalties. They took 4 all through regulation, all minors that took absent from their offensive energy, in advance of Brenden Dillon and Kevin Rooney were being whistled for fighting right after the closing horn.
Opposite Vanecek was fellow rookie Igor Shesterkin (3-2-1), who produced 31 will save on the night time. Shesterkin is splitting time with 24-calendar year-old netminder Alex Georgiev. The Rangers experienced opted to go with two youthful netminders to change Lundqvist soon after the staff bought out the final 12 months of the star’s deal in late September. Sidelined for the reason that of his heart affliction, Lundqvist is now far away from hockey, four weeks eradicated from open up heart surgical procedure, and Vanecek has the reins with Samsonov still in the NHL’s covid-19 protocols.
However, he isn’t going to have a lot of tested aid driving him.
With Samsonov out, 39-calendar year-aged Craig Anderson is the Capitals’ No. 2 netminder. Anderson, although he invested the previous 10 years with Ottawa, has but to make an visual appearance for Washington. Vanecek has produced 8 straight begins dating back to Jan. 19 versus Pittsburgh.
When requested if the staff was concerned about Vanecek’s workload, Laviolette downplayed any get worried, noting Vanecek’s age and the team’s belief in his skill.
The Capitals, in the very first of 8 matchups against their division rivals, arrived out sluggish, and their defense was caught flat-footed on a number of situations. It began early, when Rangers middle Ryan Strome put the hosts on major 1:41 into the initially period with his deflection aim off Adam Fox’s issue shot. Washington unsuccessful to have adequate offensive zone time and the Rangers held a steady 15 to 8 photographs on purpose gain in the opening body.
The second period made available extra of the same from the people. Washington unsuccessful to build early in the offensive zone, and when Garnet Hathaway was assessed a tripping phone only 5 minutes into the period of time, the Capitals ended up never ever in a position to get back their footing.
The Rangers doubled their direct when defenseman Anthony Bitetto beat Vanecek with a crafty backhand at 9:15 of the next interval. It was only Bitetto’s 3rd target in his 185 job game titles. His very last aim? Nov. 18, 2017 — when he played for Laviolette in Nashville.
Carl Hagelin’s 1st aim of the period with 1:03 remaining in the next period of time gave the Capitals slight momentum, but the Rangers built it 3-1 with Strome’s 2nd target of the evening off an odd-guy rush 7:55 into the third period of time. Jakub Vrana’s dismal turnover in the offensive zone led to the rush the opposite way — and the eventual activity-winner.
“If you do not have 100 percent effort and hard work or if you are not into the video game comprehensive, it is likely to be a hard interval,” Hagelin mentioned. “We’ve accomplished that much too a great deal. We haven’t played a 60-minute match still. It is time to adjust and figure that a single out because I know if we do we are a really effective workforce.”
Ovechkin struck about 3 minutes afterwards to make it 3-2, but the Capitals would get no nearer. Pavel Buchnevich’s vacant-netter closed out the scoring.
[Alex Ovechkin transformed his legacy and shattered our expectations — and he isn’t finished]
Ovechkin is now in sole possession of seventh on the NHL’s all-time ambitions checklist, passing Mike Gartner. Up coming up is Phil Esposito at 717.
“Not carried out yet,” Ovechkin said on passing Gartner. “Just try to get pleasure from my time suitable now and check out to take pleasure in this second. Staff, definitely it sucks we failed to get the position, but, you know, commencing of the yr just test to find our sport. . . . At any time we stop enjoying, it prices us some factors, and it expenses us the activity.”
The depleted Capitals experienced to go with 11 forwards and seven defensemen for the reason that of injuries. Right after Conor Sheary experienced a reduce-human body harm Monday evening and was ruled out Thursday, the Capitals did not have more than enough salary cap room to contact up a 12th ahead to the lively roster.
Ovechkin finished up taking many shifts with the shorthanded fourth line and had 27:17 minutes of ice time.
Five Capitals were unavailable in New York: Samsonov, Sheary, centre Evgeny Kuznetsov, heart Lars Eller and defenseman Justin Schultz.
Samsonov and Kuznetsov stay on the covid record with no timetable for their return. Eller missed his fourth recreation with an higher-body harm. Schultz skipped his 3rd sport after using a puck to the deal with past Thursday from the New York Islanders.
“Most people goes through it, so you will find no excuses right here tonight,” Laviolette explained. “We needed a diverse consequence, we didn’t get it, and we will shift on. I am not sure what is actually available to us next match, but as we go by means of a pair times listed here, we will see what our lineup looks like. But we expected to come in listed here and get, so that is what’s disappointing.”
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