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POSTGAME NOTEBOOK - Rangers 4, Caps 1

Caps lose on road for first time in more than a month, Malenstyn debuts, Hathaway speaks, more

by Mike Vogel @VogsCaps /

Life'll Kill Ya - For the first 23 games of the 2019-20 NHL season, Washington's penalty kill was a positive note, a high point in the team's success. Going into Wednesday's game with the Rangers in New York, the Caps - along with the Pittsburgh Penguins - were one of only two teams in the league that had not permitted multiple power-play goals against in any game this season.

But after Artemi Panarin scored a pair of power-play goals in New York's 4-1 win over Washington on Wednesday, the Penguins stand alone on that list.

Panarin's first goal came early in the second period, on New York's first power play of the game, and it gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead. The Blueshirts nursed that lead into the third period, but they also started the third period on a carryover power play, the result of an Alex Ovechkin tripping penalty with eight seconds remaining in the second.

The Caps killed off that Ovechkin minor, but seconds later, Dmitry Orlov went off for tripping, and Washington wasn't able to complete the kill on that one. Panarin scored again at 3:57 of the third, a goal that would prove to be the game-winner.

And 23 seconds after that goal, the Rangers struck again on a Pavel Buchnevich rush tally to make it 3-0 at the 4:20 mark.

"Probably the one thing that disturbed me from the game was just our shift after the goal against," says Caps coach Todd Reirden. "We've done a really good job of stopping momentum or not letting things get out of hand, and when the other team is making a push. Tonight, we didn't do that.

"So that would be the one thing I would take from this game, and I talked to the players about, was the importance of shifts after goals against. We need to stop the opposition's momentum, especially on the road. We've done a phenomenal job of that, and that's why we've been able to have the record we do on the road. But tonight, that was an area we've got to improve on."

The Caps have been able to dig themselves out of multiple-goal deficits on multiple occasions this season, but not on this night. They've been able to execute some clutch and timely penalty kills at crucial points of contests this season, but again, not on this night.

Dashing Debut - Winger Beck Malenstyn made his NHL debut in Wednesday's game, after being recalled from AHL Hershey earlier in the day. Malenstyn logged 10:02 on the night - including 2:03 of shorthanded ice time - and was credited with three shots on net and one hit.

"Nowhere close; it was unbelievable," says Malenstyn, asked how the experience compared to his boyhood dreams. "Obviously not the result that we wanted from the game, but as far as an experience goes, I wouldn't trade that for the world."

He had two excellent scoring chances in the first, a deflection from in front and a breakaway on which Henrik Lundqvist thwarted him. He showed a nose for the net and didn't look out of place at all.

"Just trying to get the puck on net, really," says Malenstyn of his breakaway bid. "There were some really good chances. It would have been awesome to score, but a lot of positives to build on for me, moving forward here.

"I think the jitters on the first few shifts were definitely there. But as it kept going, I started to get more and more comfortable. Once you get going, it's just hockey. It's obviously a higher level, but it was a great experience for me."

As has become customary for players making their NHL debuts, the Caps urged Malenstyn to lead them onto the ice for warmups, then laid back and watched as he came out and skated solo for a few seconds, before they finally joined him.

"Oh geez, I was just trying not to puke when they told me to go out first," says Malenstyn. "But that was, again, something that you can't put words to. You dream about it as a kid, and to live that in real life was phenomenal."

Reirden was pleased with what he saw, too.

"I thought he had some really good chances 5-on-5," says Reirden, "a tip at the net front, and then another chance. He gets in on the forecheck. I think he did what was expected, and it's not easy coming in for a first NHL game at Madison Square Garden.

"I'm happy for the kid. He's put a lot of time and effort in, a solid character that has earned everything he's got. It's always fun to watch a guy go through his first game."

I Apologize - On Wednesday morning, Caps right wing Garnet Hathaway had a hearing with Colin Campbell of the NHL for an incident that occurred in Monday's game against Anaheim. After fighting Ducks center Derek Grant, Hathaway was being held back by an official when Ducks defenseman Erik Gudbranson - who somehow evaded the automatic game misconduct for being the third man in an altercation - jabbed him in the face with a sucker punch. Unable to answer back with a punch of his own because his arms were being held, Hathaway reacted instantly and wrongly, spitting on Gudbranson.

Hours after Wednesday's hearing, the league announced it was suspending Hathaway for three games, which seems like a somewhat stiff sentence in light of the fact that Boston's Brad Marchand wasn't so much as fined for multiple occurrences of kissing and licking opponents over a period of several seasons, and including playoffs. The league did eventually ask him to stop slathering his saliva on opponents' faces, but that was the extent of it.

After Wednesday's game, a contrite Hathaway addressed the media and commented on the incident and the hearing.

"It was tough to swallow, because I want to be out there with the guys," says Hathaway. "I felt helpless tonight. I let the guys down in the room, and I let the organization down. I respect the league's decision. I had a fair opportunity to explain my side of things and how I saw the events unfold. I don't plan on appealing anything.

"In my view, it was a hectic situation. Coming out of a fight, there was a third and fourth man that came in, and I got sucker punched a few times and I let my emotions take over. I had an emotional reaction that I regret, and I wish it didn't happen. No one regrets it or is more disappointed than I am.

"It's one of those things too, that after I had my fair chance to explain my side, then it was out of my hands. And now as a team, I hope we can move past it."

Eight Straight - Caps defenseman John Carlson assisted on Washington's lone goal of the game, an Evgeny Kuznetsov power-play goal in the third period. The helper extends Carlson's scoring streak to eight straight games (1-11-12). Earlier this season, Carlson had a nine-game scoring streak (5-13-18).

Crooked Road - Wednesday's loss was just the second the Caps have absorbed in 13 road games (10-2-1) this season, and it was their first road setback in more than a month, since taking a 6-5 loss to the Predators in Nashville on Oct. 10 in their third road game of the season. Washington entered the game with a nine-game road point streak (8-0-1), and it was seeking to tie a club record 10-game run that has been in the books since the 1982-83 season.

Tough Stretch - Wednesday's game finished off a stretch of six games in 10 nights for the Capitals, who had to travel after all six of those games. Washington came through it with a 4-2 mark, and the Caps now have a chance to catch their collective breath, and to unpack their bags. They head back to the District to start a three-game homestand that has them home for the next nine days, and they have just one game in the next six days.

By The Numbers - Carlson led the Caps with 26:52 in ice time … Kuznetsov led the Caps with five shots on net … Ovechkin led Washington with seven shot attempts, only one of which was on goal … Tom Wilson led Washington with eight hits, and had his first fighting major of the season when he squared off against New York's Brendan Lemieux late in the third period … Carlson and T.J. Oshie led the Caps with two blocked shots each … Chandler Stephenson won five of six face-offs (83 percent) and Kuznetsov won nine of 15 (60 percent).

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