As I mentioned, the Caps went into tonight's game against the Rangers needing a win to have even a hope of a shot at the playoffs. Unfortunately, due to a (still unexplained) DVR problem, I missed the first half hour (real time) of the game. I also ended up missing about seven minutes of the third period, due to the same problem (very irritating).
The Caps were up 2-0 when I turned the game on, which was certainly a nice surprise. Unfortunately, less than a minute after I turned it on, Asham was on a 2-on-1 break and shot it past Holtby's shoulder and into the top corner to cut the margin in half.
The Caps were not looking great, and three minutes later, Chimmer took a bad interference penalty to give the Rangers a good chance to tie the game. Half a minute later, Alzner got called on a really weak (at best) slashing penalty to give NY a long 5-on-3. It took only seven seconds for the puck to be worked all the way around the outside, and to be put in the net.
Just as a side note, Holtby really should have saved both of those goals. The second one was particularly bad.
But that's water under the bridge. The Caps held it together for the rest of the power play, and went into the period break tied.
The Caps were doubling up the Rangers on shots at that point, although scoring chances were even.
The second period was a whole lot of nothing, really. The Rangers outplayed the Caps pretty siginificantly (commensurate with the 9-4 shot advantage), although the Caps did get a couple of very good chances (one or two of those shots came in the waning seconds, plus Alzner put one off the crossbar earlier).
The third period was basically identical to the second, again without any actual scoring.
That put the game into overtime. I thought the Caps did decently, there, although shots were 5-1 against, so it must have been a bit worse than it seemed. But Holtby still held solid, putting the Caps into their first shootout of the season (and, of course, Wolski was again scratched. Would have been nice to have a shootout tensai on the ice).
The Rangers elected to go first, sending Nash in against Holtby. Nash was given a show in why Holtby is a good stickhandler, as a well-placed poke-check sent the puck back towards center ice. Lundqvist remembered his scouting report on Hendricks, not biting on the initial move and then giving nothing.
Callahan came in on Holtby, drifted right and shot left, missing the net. OV went next, hieing a bit left, then cut back right in front of Hank and slid the puck under him. Stepan went next for NY (and odd choice, given his career 11% success rate), and he managed to sneak it past Holtby when Holtby got his leg in the way, but not quite square, and the puck went off his leg and into the top of the net.
I'd forgotten that Ribs was supposed to be a good shootout guy, and did not get a pointed reminder on his attempt. He just did not put much of a move in, and shot it right into Lundqvist. Disappointing.
But Holtby made up for it by stopping Richards, leaving Backstrom with the chance to win it by beating his countryman (again, I suppose, since he had the first goal of the night). And he did it without getting very fancy; he just put a wrister right under Hank's glove for the win.
The Jets also won today, beating Tampa Bay, so the Caps are still five points behind them and two behind the Rangers. I'm really getting a bad feeling that the Caps are going to finish the season ninth while Ribeiro walks. That would be... not good.
Although it was great to see the Caps putting things together, I would feel much better if they had lost the last three games instead of winning. Up next are the Islanders on Tuesday; another must-win game as they're tied with the Caps.
Update: I forgot to mention that Fehr suffered some sort of upper body injury. I hope (more for his sake than for the team's) that it isn't anything serious. On the plus side, it will hopefully get Wolski on the ice for a bit.