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#CapsNYR Postgame Notebook: Debuting On Broadway

Trotz gets 700th win, Johansson and Connolly reach career highs in goals, Shattenkirk debuts and Niskanen returns in big win over Rangers.

by Mike Vogel @VogsCaps / Monumental Sports Network

Tuesday's game in New York marked the Washington debut of defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, acquired from St. Louis the day before. Shattenkirk arrived in New York early Tuesday afternoon, and he took the ice on the right side of a pairing with Nate Schmidt without as much as a practice or a morning skate with his new teammates. 

All things considered, Shattenkirk seemed to fit in well within the Caps' system on his first night in the lineup. 

"I don't know if I have yet," he admits. "It's still a work in progress. There were a couple moments where I have some habits that I have to change into the team habits here. 

"There's just great positivity on the bench from the coaches and a lot of help from the rest of the (defensemen) as well." 

Shattenkirk skated 17:57 on the night and he recorded four shots on net, three of them in the game's first period. 

Video: Caps players talk after a 4-1 win against the Rangers

The 700 Club - Caps coach Barry Trotz joined an elite list of coaches on Tuesday night when his Capitals took down the New York Rangers by a 4-1 score at Madison Square Garden. For Trotz, Tuesday's win was the 700th of his NHL career. He becomes just the sixth coach in NHL history to reach that plateau, and four of the six - Joel Quenneville, Ken Hitchcock, Lindy Ruff and Trotz - have coached in the league this season. 

Trotz's troops overcame a slow start against the Rangers; they fell behind 1-0 in the sixth minute of the game and needed some key stops from goaltender Braden Holtby and a pair of critical penalty kills to get out of the first frame down by just a goal. 

Over the final 40 minutes, the Caps took control and wore the Blueshirts down.

"It's the room," says Trotz. "We have a really good, strong room. I knew that we didn't play particularly quick and hard. We were hustling 'easy,' as we use the term." 
Video: Trotz talks after a 4-1 win against the Rangers
Washington out-attempted the Rangers 27-15 at even strength in the middle period, and the Caps scored twice to take a 2-1 lead into the third. Marcus Johansson's second goal of the game came at 1:15 of the third, giving the Caps a two-goal cushion, and they cruised along fairly easily thereafter. 

Nicklas Backstrom netted a power-play goal late in the third to seal the deal. 

"I just thought with our urgency on the puck, our battles got better," says Trotz. "We started getting a little more of a rhythm and found our game in the second and we just pounded the rock. I thought it wore them out a little bit and we just stayed with it.

"We got a couple of big penalty kills when we needed it when the game was really close. Obviously, the power play goal sort of sealed the deal. Other than the first period, I was pretty satisfied with the level with what they were doing." 
Video: WSH@NYR: Johansson slams home rebound to tie the game
Blackjack - Johansson's two goals give him 21 on the season, a single-season career high with 20 games remaining. He netted 20 goals in 2014-15 in Trotz's first season behind the Washington bench. 

"One of my first meetings with Marcus," recalls Trotz, "I think he had six or eight goals that [previous] year, and I'm like, 'You're way better than that. You can shoot more. I've seen you shoot the puck; you should get 20. That's what our goal is.' 

"He set out to do that, and it's all on him. He listened to it, worked on it, kept doing it, and now he's getting rewarded. He does a lot of things very quietly for our hockey team."

Johansson is actually shooting the puck at his lowest rate since before Trotz's arrival. He averaged 1.34 shots on goal per game in 2013-14, nudged it up to 1.68 in Trotz's first season here and then topped out at 1.78 last season. Thus far in 2016-17, Johansson is averaging just 1.58 shots per game. The difference is Johansson's 21.4% shooting percentage this season, easily the highest mark of his career and well above his career mark of 14%. 
Video: WSH@NYR: Johansson finishes Kuznetsov's feed in 3rd
Johansson ranks third in the NHL in shooting percentage, and he is one of three Capitals in the top five in the circuit in that regard. T.J. Oshie leads the NHL in that department with 22.86% and Brett Connolly is fifth at 20% on the nose.

Baker's Dozen - Connolly netted the game-winner in Tuesday night's game, scoring his 13th goal of the season late in the second to break a 1-1 deadlock. As it turned out, that goal was the second of four unanswered for the Capitals. 

"It was good to get that one out of the way," says Connolly, of establishing his career best. "You know what it is, and I've got 20 games now to build on that. But the team is playing so well, and it's a lot of fun to play every night. Hopefully we can get on a roll here and finish strong, and lead into the playoffs on the right note here." 
Video: WSH@NYR: Connolly beats Lundqvist from in close
Happy Return - In addition to adding Shattenkirk, the Caps got defenseman Matt Niskanen back in their lineup after he missed the two previous games because of a lower body injury. 

"I haven't played in about a week now, so it felt good," says Niskanen. "It was fun to be out there and compete again and be with the guys and go through a regular game day. It's exciting to be with our group, and we got a big win." 

Niskanen showed some signs of inactivity early, but got better as the game wore on. He skated 18:19 on the night - several minutes below his single-game average of 22:21 - and picked up a pair of assists. 

"My hands were a little rusty and my timing was a little off," admits Niskanen. "But strength-wise and conditioning and all that stuff, I felt fine. You miss a week and your timing is off and your hands are a little off. I got a little better as the game went on. I fumbled the puck a few times, but I got a little bit better each period." 

Niskanen now has 30 assists on the season, reaching that level for the second time in his NHL career. He had a career best 36 helpers in 2013-14 in his final season with the Penguins.
Video: WSH@NYR: Carlson notches 200th career assist
By The Numbers - John Carlson led the Caps with 24:35 in ice time and five shots on net. He and Alex Ovechkin led the way for the Capitals with eight shot attempts each … Ovechkin led the Caps with six hits … Karl Alzner led the Caps with seven blocked shots … Nicklas Backstrom won 16 of 25 face-offs (64%) and Lars Eller won eight of 12 (67%).

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