NEW YORK - Post-game analysis of the Capitals’ 5-2 loss to the New York Rangers Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden:
How it happened: The Rangers scored four goals on their first 10 shots (5 on first 17) and the Capitals could not recover from several defensive zone turnovers as they lost for the first time since last Wednesday’s home loss to the Penguins. Derick Brassard, Kevin Hayes and rookie Oscar Lindberg each recorded a goal and an assist and goaltender Henrik Lundqvist stopped 32 of 34 shots to earn the win. The five goals allowed by the Caps were the most since their 5-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks in Game 2. Alex Ovechkin and Marcus Johansson netted goals for the Capitals, who outshot the Rangers 34-21 but made too many mistakes early to come away with a point.
What it means: The Caps lost for just the third time this season (8-3-0) but fell to third place in the Metro Division, two points behind the Rangers (8-2-2) and one behind the Islanders (7-3-3).
Tough night for top pair: The Caps’ top defense pairing of Brooks Orpik (minus-4) and John Carlson (minus-3) was on the ice for three of the Rangers’ first four goals. Orpik coughed up the puck with an errant pass on the Rangers’ first goal and Carlson was caught chasing on the Rangers’ second goal. A giveaway by Marcus Johansson led to the Rangers’ fourth goal. Right wing Andre Burakovsky, who took occasional shifts with the Capos’ top line, was also a minus-3.
One for Ovi: Alex Ovechkin’s first-period goal was his team-high sixth of the season and came off a dazzling play by defenseman Nate Schmidt, who streaked past a diving Marc Staal and gave Ovechkin a perfectly timed backhand pass. Ovechkin’s goal was the 481st of his career, moving him within two of catching Sergei Fedorov as Russia’s all-time leading NHL goal scorer.
Schmorlov: Despite the loss the Caps’ third pairing of Schmidt and Orlov had a pretty solid game, activating plays from their own zone and setting up several offensive rushes.
Shuffling the deck: Caps coach Barry Trotz shuffled his lines around after the Caps fell behind 4-1, moving center Nicklas Backstrom onto a line with Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie and dropping Evgeny Kuznetsov onto the second line with Justin Williams and Marcus Johansson.
Staal spear? During the first period, Rangers defenseman Marc Staal was caught on camera jabbing his stick between Ovechkin’s legs and dropping him to the ice. There was no call on the play and Ovechkin and Staal exchanged shoves the rest of the night.
What’s next: The Caps have scheduled a 12:30 practice on Wednesday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. They return to Verizon Center Thursday night against the Boston Bruins.