By Jim Cerny, BlueshirtsUnited.com
The Washington Capitals scored on their first two shots of the game at Madison Square Garden on Saturday and never looked back, beating the Rangers 4-1 in the final game of a memorable 2011-12 regular season. The Rangers finished with 51 wins and 109 points---most in the Eastern Conference this season, and second most in franchise history.
But all the great things the Rangers accomplished this season did them no good Saturday against a desperate Caps squad that was playing for playoff positioning. Washington received an imemdiate boost when Alex Ovechkin scored on a snap shot just 32 seconds into the game after a face-off win in the offensive zone by Brooks Laich. Ovehckin's team-high 38th goal was followed shortly thereafter by Mathieu Perrault's deflection of a Roman Hamrlik shot past Henrik Lundqvist. Two minutes and eighteen seconds into the contest, the Rangers were in a 2-0 hole.
It didn't get much better for the home team as they failed to solve third-string goalie Braden Holtby---playing in the place of the injured Tomas Vokoun and Michal Neuvirth. Meanwhile Washington scored again with 1:47 to play in the first period when John Carlson's slap shot hit New York's Artem Anisimov in front and caromed past Lundqvist for a power play goal.
The Capitals made it four goals on ten shots 5:58 into the second period when Nicklas Backstrom scored his 14th goal.
The Rangers finally broke through against Holtby--who finished with 35 saves Saturday--when Brian Boyle's wraparound shot went between the young goalie's legs at 12:44 of the second period. the goal was Boyle's 11th of the season---and fifth in his last nine games.
However Holtby continued to hold the Rangers at bay, making particularly big saves on a Marian Gaborik breakaway in the second p[eriod and a Carl Hagelin break-in during the third.
The regular season now nehind them, the Rangers will open the Stanley Cup playoffs at home next week, with the schedule to be released by the NHL Sunday afternoon.