Rangers shut out by Capitals rivals in first game after Christmas break

Rangers stumbled on the holiday break.

In a game where both teams had to shake off the rust of the Christmas layoff, the Blueshirts were shut out for only the second time this season in a 4-0 loss to the Capitals on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden. Puck rebounds and penalty appeals may not have been successful, but ultimately it doesn’t matter if the Rangers don’t score.

It was one of those games where the presence of the referees was felt. A ghost call after the next, followed by a missed call after the next. However, zero consistency and zero precedent are the ways of officiating in the NHL. It’s not new. It just so happened to have a noticeable impact on Tuesday’s game.

A penalty was awarded to one of Rangers’ best penalty takers, Ryan Lindgren, in the first half on a play the defender didn’t even come close to. Chris Kreider’s smooth takedown of Alex Ovechkin 21 seconds later probably had more to do with the Capitals star than Kreider.

Alex Ovechkin (right) celebrates after Erik Gustaffson (not pictured) scores a goal against Igor Shesterkin in Rangers’ 4-0 loss to the Capitals.
Corey Sipkins

Still, Washington made the five-to-three advantage count and took a 1-0 lead at 8:44 of the first frame.

Then there was Erik Gustafsson who hit Julien Gauthier’s stick and skates, knocking the Rangers forward to his knees on his move to the net in the second period. No calls were made, but play was reviewed briefly to ensure the puck did not cross the goal line at any time.

Perhaps the most egregious officiating blunder of the night was on the Capitals’ second goal, which Rangers challenged for goalkeeper interference. Washington had the numbers in the offensive zone and Gustafsson buried the puck on a rebound while Conor Sheary clearly skated into the blue paint and made contact with Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin’s pad.

Marcus Johansson (left) scores on goal over Igor Shesterkin in the Rangers defeat.
Marcus Johansson (left) scores on goal over Igor Shesterkin in the Rangers defeat.
Corey Sipkins

Referee Michael Markovic skated to center ice and proclaimed there was no contact.

Nonetheless, Rangers haven’t done themselves a favor either.

When Capitals defender Dmitry Orlov was called off for tripping Mika Zibanejad 32 seconds into the second period in what was barely a trip, Rangers couldn’t capitalize despite three shots on goal. Washington then went 3-0 after Lars Eller skated in the middle of the ice among four Rangers skaters and remained completely intact.

Vitali Kravtsov looks to keep the puck away from Dmitry Orlov during the first period of the Rangers loss.
Vitali Kravtsov looks to keep the puck away from Dmitry Orlov during the first period of the Rangers loss.
Corey Sipkins

The Capitals, who were without TJ Oshie (lower-body injury and John Carlson (upper-body injury), won the special teams battle whether power plays were warranted or not. who were called up in the first period, respectively. , Washington still capitalized with the two-man advantage.

Jacob Trouba fumbled the puck and it took an unfortunate right rebound towards the goal line. Capitals forward Marcus Johansson finished the game for a 1-0 lead.

On the other hand, Rangers failed to score on all five power play chances. Three of those stretches with the man advantage came in the final 20 minutes, including one after Rangers fired Shesterkin for the six-on-four advantage. On that one, Sheary sent the puck down the ice into the empty net for the shorthanded count.

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