POSTGAME NOTEBOOK: Caps 6, Rangers 5 (OT)by Mike Vogel @VogsCaps / washingtoncaps.com
There's No Place Like Home - Caps center Evgeny Kuznetsov claims to love playing on the road, but he's certainly been cooking at home as of late. In Washington's Sunday afternoon 6-5 overtime win over the New York Rangers at Capital One Arena, Kuznetsov supplied the game-winner in the extra session. It was his second overtime game-winner on home ice this month, and the seventh of his NHL career, which places him fourth on Washington's all-time list, behind Alex Ovechkin (22), Mike Green and Nicklas Backstrom (eight each).
Video: Condensed Game: Rangers @ Capitals
On the Caps' just completed six-game road trip, Kuznetsov endured his first three-game scoring drought of the season. His overtime goal on Sunday gives him seven goals and 13 points in his last seven home games. On the season, Kuznetsov has just one goal and 17 points in 27 road games to rank eighth on the team in road scoring in 2018-19. But he has piled up 15 goals and 39 points in 30 home games to lead Washington in scoring at Capital One Arena this season.
On the game-winner, both Ovechkin and Kuznetsov tried to make a play to one another, but the puck wound up getting tangled up in Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist. Both Ovechkin and Kuznetsov took whacks at the loose puck, but it was Kuznetsov's stick that ultimately urged the puck over the line.
"I didn't play in the third period," cracks Kuznetsov, "so I have pretty fresh legs. When you pretty much control the game, and then you end up giving up the late goal, you always want to get it back because that is big difference. Now we all can smile, and if we lose the game today we will be sad a little bit."
Defense Debut - Newly acquired defenseman Nick Jensen made his debut in a Caps' sweater on Sunday, two days after he was obtained from Detroit along with a fifth-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft in exchange for blueliner Madison Bowey and a second-rounder in 2020.
The Caps eased Jensen into action, putting him on the right side of the third defensive pairing alongside veteran Brooks Orpik. Jensen averaged 20:48 per night with the Red Wings this season, but he won't have his first practice with his new team until Wednesday, so he wasn't tasked with a heavy workload right off the hop, skating 14:16 in his debut.
Video: Postgame Locker Room | February 24
"I've been watching a lot of video and stuff with the coaches," says Jensen. "But I think it was really important that I keep the mindset of just going out there and playing hockey, is the bottom line. We went over a lot of material, but I don't want to be having the puck and thinking about everything. You just kind of want to play hockey; I've been doing it for a long time so that was the mentality.
"Yeah, it was tough not being able to practice or anything, and I think my breakouts in the [defensive] zone probably could have been a little better, but it's something that I feel like comes with time and experience with this team."
Jensen registered three shots on net, two hits and a blocked shot and finished the day at plus-1. He skated 2:30 worth of shorthanded ice time while wearing sweater No. 3, the first Caps player to sport that sweater since Tom Poti wore it from 2007-13.
Blackjack - Twenty-one was a prominent number in Sunday's contest. New York's Chris Kreider scored the game's first goal 21 seconds after opening puck drop, and the Caps responded late in the first with a pair of goals 21 seconds apart to take a 2-1 lead. In the third period, the Rangers again scored 21 seconds into the frame, getting a Jimmy Vesey goal to knot the game at 3-3 at that point.
No Afternoon Delight - The Caps scored six goals against Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist on Sunday, just the second time in 40 games against The King that Washington was able to put together a six-pack against the future Hall of Famer.
The first time was on Feb. 4, 2010 at Madison Square Garden, also in a 6-5 Washington win, albeit without overtime. Ovechkin scored twice that night, and Nicklas Backstrom had a goal and five points.
Lundqvist has struggled in day games this season. He is now 0-4-2 in six afternoon starts this season, with a 4.23 GAA and an .891 save pct.
Video: Todd Reirden Postgame | February 24
A Tough Off-Ice Loss - Most fans see the Capitals as a group of 23 players who play 82 games every season, vying for a postseason berth and the Stanley Cup year after year. But behind the scenes, it takes many, many good and dedicated people to keep the Capitals' day-to-day operations humming along smoothly and seamlessly.
Last week, the Caps suffered a stunning loss in that regard when senior vice president of administration Michelle Trostle passed away suddenly. For the better part of the last two decades, Michelle was a valued co-worker and friend to many of us with the Capitals. She genuinely cared about people, she handled sticky problems routinely and tactfully and with aplomb and had the respect and admiration of all of us who enjoyed working with her over the years. I'll always remember how proud and thrilled she was after each round of the playoffs last spring, and how buoyant she was when the Caps won the Cup on June 7 and conducted their championship parade on June 12.
Prior to Sunday's game with the Rangers, the Caps honored Michelle's memory with a moment of silence. She leaves us all with many fond memories of her presence here, and she will not be forgotten. Rest well, Michelle.
Down On The Farm - Nothing good lasts forever, and so it is with the AHL Hershey Bears' remarkable winning run. Hershey's 11-game winning streak and its 17-game point streak (16-0-0-1) streak came to a halt on Sunday in Bridgeport with a 5-1 loss.
Playing their third game in as many nights and traveling for each of the three, the Bears finally ran out of gas on Sunday, falling down 2-0 after the first and 4-0 after the second period. Hershey's lone goal of the game came in the final minute when Jusso Ikonen scored on the power play with help from Shane Gersich and Garrett Pilon. The goal was Ikonen's fourth of the season.
Vitek Vanecek absorbed the loss in goal, making 21 stops in falling to 15-9-2 on the season.
The Bears will be back in action on Wednesday when they travel to Hartford to take on the Wolf Pack.
By The Numbers - Fifteen of Washington's 18 skaters recorded at least a point in Sunday's victory … John Carlson led the Caps with 28:32 in ice time, six shots on net and 15 shot attempts … Ovechkin and Orpik led the Caps with three hits … Dmitry Orlov and Brett Connolly each had three blocked shots to lead the Caps.