Game #65: Strange ending gives Caps shootout win over Rangers


For 65 minutes, the Rangers and Caps played to a 2-2 tie. Nothing separated them. Alexandar Georgiev made 37 saves including stonewalling lethal sniper Alexander Ovechkin on a breakaway in the three-on-three overtime.

Unfortunately, it was a big mistake by Georgiev against Ovechkin that turned into a strange ending. Facing the NHL’s leading goal scorer in the shootout, he threw his stick at Ovechkin as he was into his move. The league rule clearly states that in such a situation, the player is awarded a goal.

So, Toronto justifiably called down to MSG and overruled the confused refs that thought it shouldn’t count. Ovechkin’s odd goal gave the Caps a bizarre 3-2 win in the shootout over the Rangers.

It was a tough way to lose. I’m in agreement with John Tortorella. Play the three-on-three until someone dies. Of course, the current Blue Jackets coach was kidding. Shootouts shouldn’t decide these games. Too many valuable extra points wind up being awarded by the skill competition. Why not have another two minutes of three-on-three if nothing’s decided?

One thing the Rangers need to do is figure out how to win in overtime. Brady Skjei scored the lone winner way back on Oct. 11, 2018 to beat San Jose. Since then, it’s been nothing but disappointment in three-on-three. They did have a 6-2 shootout record prior to Ovechkin being credited with the winner due to Georgiev’s toss.

He needed one more save to make Tony DeAngelo’s third goal in the shootout stand up. Nicklas Backstrom had other ideas. Georgiev gave him too much room. Backstrom was able to beat him on the short side, high glove to take it to the fourth round.

Playing his first game since being scratched, Filip Chytil came out for Round Four. Having already made a terrific play with a diving primary assist on Pavel Buchnevich’s 13th goal in regulation, the rookie was unable to beat Washington starter Braden Holtby. He tried to go forehand deke, but Holtby patiently outwaited him by getting a pad on the low shot.

That led to the confusing conclusion. Ovechkin didn’t try to go high glove with his big shot. Perhaps he was influenced by a pair of earlier stops from Georgiev, including a weird blocker one with an Ovechkin one-timer sticking like Velcro late in regulation. Instead, he decided to move in and go for the forehand deke, only to have Georgiev throw his stick to stop the attempt.

In regulation, three goals were scored in the first period. Ryan Strome got the first just 45 seconds in when he was able to beat Holtby thanks to a Chris Kreider feed in front off a Dmitry Orlov turnover. Jesper Fast forced the mistake, and Kreider quickly threw a backhand pass to Strome for his 11th. Ten have come as a Blueshirt since being stolen from Edmonton by GM Jeff Gorton for Ryan Spooner.

The early lead was short-lived. Former Ranger Carl Hagelin was able to take advantage of a bounce back to him for his first as a Capital. He took a Lars Eller pass and got a step on Lias Andersson and then tried to center a pass. But the puck went off Libor Hajek and back to him for the finish at 2:03.

Andre Burakovsky put the Caps ahead when he was able to skate around Marc Staal and get off a good shot from the circle that beat a screened Georgiev at 10:02. Washington defenseman Nick Jensen jumped up and set a perfect screen that allowed Burakovsky to get his ninth for a 2-1 lead.

Georgiev was the story in the second period. He stopped all 20 Capital shots to give his team a chance. Ironically, it was the Rangers who got the only goal. On a good low DeAngelo shot that caromed off Holtby, a diving Chytil somehow made a great backhand pass for a quick Buchnevich one-timer that tied the game with 5:40 left.

A splendid hustle play from the 19-year old rookie that had to make coach David Quinn smile. Chytil missed the last two games due to not playing up to par. He was rewarded with a shift in overtime.

Today’s game was also the return of Brett Howden. It was his first game since 1/29. He centered a interesting line with Chytil and Kreider in the third period.

Quinn moved around a few players including Buchnevich, who was elevated to the Mika Zibanejad line with Jimmy Vesey. Strome played with Fast and Vladislav Namestnikov. Andersson centered the fourth line with Brendan Smith and Brendan Lemieux. Lemieux mixed it up with Tom Wilson at the end of an active shift in the third. Wilson wasn’t pleased with a Fast hit on John Carlson. Lemieux didn’t back down.

There was definitely some edge in the third. Wilson went back at Fast during another shift. Even Buchnevich got in Wilson’s face. It was the kind of animosity you’d expect in the final game between the old rivals this season. Especially with time running out on the Rangers’ playoff hopes.

The three-on-three overtime was very entertaining. Both teams went for it. The best opportunity for the Blueshirts came on a terrific centering feed from DeAngelo to a wide open Buchnevich in the slot. But his hard shot hit Holtby in the chest to stay out. It was a great chance.

A little later, Ovechkin was hit with a perfect outlet for a breakaway on Georgiev. He tried to go five-hole, but the 22-year old goalie shut the door to earn a nice ovation from an appreciative crowd.

Kevin Shattenkirk scored in Round One of the shootout when he beat Holtby with a good forehand shot top shelf off a backhand deke. But T.J. Oshie was money as usual, going right between the wickets on Georgiev to even it up. After Holtby denied Zibanejad with a glove save, Georgiev poke checked Evgeny Kuznetsov’s forehand deke away.

In the top of the third, Quinn sent out DeAngelo. Having gone 2-for-2 previously with two shootout winners, he nearly had another when he beat Holtby with a good forehand finish off a deke. But Georgiev couldn’t seal the deal, allowing Backstrom to force a fourth round with a perfect laser top shelf.

Following Holtby denying Chytil, the bizarre finish allowed a grinning Ovechkin to celebrate with happy teammates. The two points put the Caps in first place over the Islanders, who are currently trailing the Flyers 3-0.

BONY 3 STARS:

3rd 🌟 Filip Chytil, NYR (a beautiful primary assist on Buchnevich goal in his return)

2nd 🌟 Alexander Ovechkin, WSH (bizarre shootout winner in a rare game he didn’t score)

1st 🌟 Alexandar Georgiev, NYR (37 saves including 20 of 20 in 2nd)

Notes: Boo Nieves and Connor Brickley were healthy scratches with both Chytil and Howden returning. Fredrik Claesson sat out a second consecutive game for Hajek, who had one shot in 12:10. … After celebrating his 37th birthday yesterday, Henrik Lundqvist got the day off. Expect him back for Dallas on Tuesday. Since Mats Zuccarello went down, the Stars are winning games. A Jamie Benn hat trick gave them a 5-2 win over the Blues on Saturday. Dallas is in the first wildcard with 71 points out West. One up on second wildcard Minnesota. Arizona and Colorado are in the hunt. … NYR (27-27-11) are up to 65 points in 65 games. The over/under was 77.5 before the season.

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of New York administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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