Post-game analysis of the Capitals’ 5-2 win over the New York Rangers Sunday at Verizon Center:
How it happened: Maybe the Caps signed Justin Williams over the summer just to beat the Rangers in the playoffs. He’s sure done a good job in the regular season. Williams netted his second career hat trick, giving him six goals and three assists in four games against the Rangers this season. Three of those four games have been victories. Alex Ovechkin (27th) and Marcus Johansson (12th) also scored power-play goals for the Capitals, while Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky added two assists each.
What it means: The Capitals rebounded nicely from their Saturday night setback in Buffalo and are now 10-0-1 following a loss this season. They have outscored their opponents 40-21 in those games. The Caps (24-8-3, 71 points) extended their lead over the Rangers to 18 points. The Rangers have not won consecutive games since Nov. 21 and 23 and have gone 8-13-3 since then.
Holtby dehydrated: Playing in back-to-back games, Caps goaltender Braden Holtby left with 2:18 remaining in the second period because of dehydration and did not return. Holtby left the game 14 seconds after allowing a goal by Chris Kreider, which drew the Rangers within 3-2. Philipp Grubauer replaced him and was a perfect 11-for-11 against the Rangers in the final 22:18.
Chorney denied: For a brief shining moment Caps defenseman Taylor Chorney basked in the glow of what would have been his first goal as a Capital and his first NHL goal since Feb. 15, 2011. Instead, his snap shot from the point glanced off the stick of teammate Justin Williams and behind Rangers goaltender Annti Raanta
Ornery Richards: In his first home game as a Capital, center Mike Richards played another solid game, recording two shots, four hits and winning 14 of 20 faceoffs while playing 11:47 on a fourth line with Brooks Laich and Stan Galiev. Richards also logged 3:00 of penalty kill time, most of it alongside Tom Wilson. The Caps other forward pairs on the PK were Laich with T.J. Oshie and Jason Chimera with Nicklas Backstrom/Justin Williams.
Ovi climbing: Alex Ovechkin’s 27th goal of the season moved him within one of NHL leader Patrick Kane. Ovechkin’s 10 power-play goals are four behind Kane’s league-leading 14.
Showcasing Galiev?: Late in the second period, when the Caps were leading 3-1 and awarded a power play on a J.T. Miller hooking penalty, Stan Galiev took Alex Ovechkin’s spot on the first power-play unit. Ovechkin hopped over the boards later on the man-advantage but exited down the tunnel with a few seconds remaining in the period. He came out for the third period and played the remainder of the game. With Galiev in the lineup, Zach Sill and Michael Latta were healthy scratches.
Look ahead: Following back-to-back games, the Capitals will have the day off on Monday and return to game action Tuesday night in Columbus against the Blue Jackets. They follow with three home games leading up to the NHL All-Star break: Friday against the Anaheim Ducks, Sunday against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Wednesday against the Philadelphia Flyers.