Rangers Beat Caps in Shootout, Turning Point for Season?

Eric SalomonContributor IFebruary 12, 2009

Last night's defeat of the Washington Capitals may have meant more than just the two points.  This victory could be a turning point for the Rangers, who have been flirting with mediocrity recently.

Looking to snap a five-game losing streak against the Capitals, the Rangers came out fighting.  Less than three minutes into the game Colton Orr and Doland Brashear dropped the gloves.  After each was sent to the penalty box, and the puck was dropped again and Aaron Voros went after Matthew Bradley in another duel.

Ryan Callahan got the scoring started at 7:33 off an assist from Lauri Korpikoski.

Despite the strong start, the Rangers went into the first intermission down 2-1.

Korpikoski and Callahan hooked up again in the second period, but this time it was Korpikoski who put a wrist shot by Jose Theodore.  Markus Naslund and Paul Mara would each add a goal in the second, but not without the Capitals also scoring two more. 

Despite the blazing start by the Rangers and the scoring frenzy in the second, the third period was quiet, especially the Rangers power play unit. 

New York had 10 minutes of advantage time in the third period, including a four-minute double minor on Shane Morrisonn, but were unable to score.  This will be a critical area of improvement heading into the final twenty-seven games that remain in the regular season. 

Overtime was just as quiet as the third period, with no penalties and no scoring, which forced the teams into a shootout.

If there is one area that the Rangers have done especially well in, it is the shootout.  Prior to this game the Rangers were 8-3 in shootouts this season.

Nigel Dawes and Ryan Callahan scored in the shootout, while only Alexander Ovechkin could manage to get a shot by Lundqvist. 

In front a sold-out crowd at Madison Square Garden the Rangers accomplished more than just a win.  They avenged a December 23rd overtime loss, which they led 4-0 at one point.  The Blueshirts also moved into a points tie with Philadelphia, who are listed ahead because the Rangers have more losses. 

This win gives the Rangers a much-needed confidence boost, and a renewal of support from their fans.  In addition to losing five consecutive games against Washington, New York has also lost five consecutive games overall. 

The Rangers have an important weekend ahead, facing eighth place Florida on Friday and division rival Philadelphia on Sunday.  Sunday's game will be televised nationally on NBC beginning at 12:30.