Sunday, February 11, 2007

Jagr Continues to Haunt Caps [Capital Fanatic]

Winger's Reaches Milestone with Three Assists and Leads Rangers to Second Straight Win
New York Rangers 5, Washington Capitals 2
(Photo Courtesy of Nick Wass/AP)

He was welcomed back to the Verizon Center in front of 18,277 fans with a Bronx cheer. Every time Jaromir Jagr touched the puck tonight he was booed by the home crowd, still angry over the way the Czech star departed from Washington back in 2004. Jagr has gone on to revive his career in New York and tonight reached a milestone of 1,500 points in the NHL.

As expected, it was a physical game from the start. Just half way through the opening period the first scrum ensued after Brian Sutherby hit Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist behind his net. Center Ryan Hollweg, who is fond of dropping the gloves, quickly responded challenging Sutherby to a fight. The Capitals checking specialist acquitted himself well and set the tone for what would be a hard nosed contest.

The Rangers, however, would take advantage of Sutherby's extra minor for goaltender interfernce notching the game's first goal on a Michal Rozsival rebound shot after Kolzig had made the initial stop on Jagr. Once again the Caps found themselves playing from behind.

Washington would get help from the Verizon Center boards behind Lundqvist's net to tie the game at one. A dump in by Chris Clark would wrap around the boards and take a weird bounce out in front of the Rangers goal. Ovechkin would deposit the gift into the back of the net for his 34th goal of the season. The goal was just moments after Jed Ortmeyer had been stopped on a short handed breakaway.

The penalty kill, which had been a strength in recent games for the Caps, ended up being their shortcoming tonight. At the 9:50 mark of the second period a questionable roughing call to Capitals captain Chris Clark led to another Rangers goal. Marcel Hossa put home a rebound following a Brendan Shanahan shot from the left faceoff circle to put the blue shirts ahead once again 2-1.

Two minutes later, the fight everyone had been waiting for since the last matchup between these two teams finally took place. Immediately following the faceoff draw, Donald Brashear and Colton Orr did not disappoint. They exchanged hay makers before Brashear finally knocked down Orr with a crushing left blow. He celebrated his victory by skating by the Rangers bench with his index finger extended as if telling them, "I'm #1".

The physical game continued as newly acquired defenseman Milan Jurcina provided some crushing hits in the later part of the 2nd, including one on Jagr that had him slow to get back on his feet.

In the third period, another bad bounce in the Rangers zone led to a Capitals power play goal by Chris Clark. It was his 24th of the season and would tie the game again at 2.

But from that point on it was all New York as a second power play goal on the night from Michal Rozsival, his 8th on the season, would put the Rangers ahead for good. Jagr would pick up his 1,500th career point on the play with a secondary assist. Two goals by Martin Straka, one of which was an empty netter, would make the final score a lot worse than it should have been at 5-2.

Game Notes:

Cal Ripken was on hand and sat in the owners box with Ted Leonsis.... Ben Clymer was a healthy scratch along with Kris Beech and Lawrence Nycholat.... Alex Ovechkin led the team in ice time with 25:04....

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