NEW YORK – Washington’s best player played liked it on Thursday.
Alex Ovechkin scored the Capitals’ first goal, a power-play laser late in the first period that went top shelf on Henrik Lundqvist (27 saves). He had 11 shot attempts through the first two periods before getting off only one shot attempt in the third.
Ovechkin also had the game-winning assist on the Capitals’ winner with 1.3 seconds left in regulation as the Caps shocked the Rangers in Game 1, 2-1.
“Obviously he’s going to get looks,” said Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh, who had an up-and-down night against one of the best players in the league. “I thought the majority of the game, we did well defending as a group.”
Ovechkin’s goal was his sixth of the year against the Rangers, with five of those coming on the power play.
“He played a great game,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said of the Hart Trophy finalist. “There’s no doubt one of my focuses is going to get my top players to play at a top level. Washington’s top players tonight played a real strong game. We’re going to need to be better.”
Ovechkin was on the ice for 18:26, with McDonagh sharing the ice with him for 14:36 of that time.
Rangers left furious by critical no-call
In a game that featured only two power plays for each team, the Rangers were left furious by a critical no-call on Washington’s game-winning goal.
With Dan Boyle in the corner trying to kill the clock, Nicklas Backstrom delivered a heavy hit to Boyle’s head. The Rangers immediately looked for a call, but none came. Moments later, the puck was in their own net.
“I haven’t seen the replay but knowing Boyler, my guess is it was bad, and that allowed them to get that chance,” said Rangers forward Martin St. Louis. “If Boyler doesn’t go down, they don’t get that chance. It’s tough to take, the late goal, but it’s how it happened that’s tough to take.”
“Off the top, I saw Boyler get hit, go down, and I kind of hesitated just to kind of see,” said defenseman Ryan McDonagh. “I knew he was down, I thought [the referees] were going to blow [the whistle]. I kind of hesitated for a second and [Ovechkin] is going around the net, makes a good play out front and they bang it in with a second to go.”
“I think Boyle was trying to just kill the clock basically in the corner,” said Capitals coach Barry Trotz. “We played through him, got the puck free, got it to the front of the net with virtually no time left.”
Vigneault was livid after the play. While the referees were conferring with the war room in Toronto to make sure the goal came in time, he could be heard screaming, “Make the right call!”
Boyle crumpled to the ice after the hit, and had to be assisted into the dressing room by trainer Jim Ramsey.
“We’re kind of a little bit in shock right now just the way that ended,” said defenseman Dan Girardi. “We have to forget about that and have a good practice tomorrow.”
“Right now it’s tough, but then you regroup,” Lundqvist said. “You move on. It’s the first of four [for them]. The way we battled back in this game, obviously we were looking for a different result and a different start. We’ll regroup and come back.”