WASHINGTON — If the much-anticipated season-opening showdown with the Capitals wasn’t about avenging last season’s shenanigans or proving a point, the Rangers don’t have to worry.
The Blueshirts, however, should be concerned after not playing with any of their Presidential claims of having a tough-to-play against the lineup as the Capitals won 5-1 at the Capital One Arena on Wednesday night.
This may have been the first game, but the Rangers decided to craft a meatier version of their roster specifically to counter Capitals agitator Tom Wilson and a physical Washington team, with little fighting from visitors on the scoreboard — where It matters.
Rangers struggled to stay out of the penalty box throughout the game. Washington conceded three of his five power plays, each period coming up a man-advantage goal. While Rangers initially made a few pucks in the net, the Capitals exploded mid-frame and took advantage of 15–5 shots that included goals from Justin Schultz and rookie Hendrix Lapierre.
Alexander Ovechkin scored two more goals in the third, which pushed the Capitals star to fifth on the NHL’s all-time goals list behind Marcel Dion. Rangers’ lone tally from Chris Kreider on the power play came between Ovechkin’s two scores.
Rangers goalkeeper Alexander Georgiev, who got an early clearance on Igor Shesterkin amid back-to-back schedules, allowed five goals off 27 shots.
The stage was set in Washington long before game time, with a flamboyant crowd outside the Capital One Arena, including a man in a Capital jersey, walking on stilts and—something—lit blasting through the speakers. “My Own Worst Enemy” by.
Capitals fans erupted when their evening man, Wilson, was introduced at the opening-night ceremony. And as the Rangers took the snow, booze rained down from all three levels of the arena, while small-but-noticeable New York fans in the building tried to make themselves heard.
The anticipated materiality was certainly there, with Rangers off-season addition Sammy Blass and Capitals’ Trevor van Riemsdyk quickly joining in. Rangers were called up for three penalties in the first period alone, including Blas’s matching roughing minor with Van Riemsdyk – and it was Patrick Nemeth’s slashing penalty that Capitals winger TJ Oshie cashed in less than five minutes into the game.
Washington defenseman Nick Jensen nearly made it 2-0 minutes later, but Rangers challenged for offside and the goal was reversed.