Through 35 games this season, the Rangers have limited turnovers and kept the sloppy play at a minimum. Wednesday night in the nation’s capital, the first-place Rangers did neither in a second period they’d soon like to forget, as they gave up two goals to the Washington Capitals en route to a 4-1 defeat at Verizon Center.
After entering the period tied 1-1, turnovers by John Mitchell and Brad Richards led to two quick goals by Jeff Halpern and Alex Semin — who may have had his best game of the season — and the Rangers couldn’t recover.
“I wouldn’t say it’s the defense, I would say it’s some brain-dead plays at our blue line as far as turnovers,” coach John Tortorella said. “It’s unfortunate with Del Z (Michael Del Zotto), he loses the puck on the first one. But a turnover by Mitch (John Mitchell) and a turnover by Richie (Richards), not against their third- or- fourth-line, but against their top line. It kills us. That’s what’s frustrating.”
Tortorella said the team beat themselves, and he sure was right, as the turnovers led to goals and the team failed to capitalize on several powerplay opportunities throughout the night. The Capitals, to their credit, gave the Rangers little to work with all night.
Martin Biron suffered just his second loss of the season, as Tortorella continues to insert him into the lineup often to spell Henrik Lundqvist from playing 65-plus games a season in an attempt to keep him fresh for April and — hopefully — May and June. Although Biron didn’t play awful, he did give up several big rebounds, including one that led to the Capitals’ first goal in the first period.
If there was a bright-spot for the Rangers Wednesday night, it was Brandon Dubinsky scoring his second goal in three games, after going stretches over 15-plus games for his first two goals of the year.
The Rangers appeared to come within one goal in the third period after Ryan Callahan put home a rebound on the powerplay, but it was determined he kicked the puck into the net, negating the tally.
The loss bounced the Rangers out of first place, as the Boston Bruins defeated the Phoenix Coyotes.