New York Rangers v Washington Capitals - Game Two

Capitals beat Rangers at their own game, take 2-0 series lead with Michal Neuvirth shutout

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In almost seven periods of playoff hockey* against the New York Rangers, Michal Neuvirth has allowed one measly goal, including a 22-save shutout tonight. The rookie netminder stopped all but one of the 47 shots he’s faced in his first two career playoff games as the Washington Capitals ground their way to a 2-0 series lead.

Neuvirth’s performance can mean a few things. To some, it reveals that the young netminder is cool as a cucumber in the Capitals net, showing that his AHL playoff successes might point toward victories at the highest level. Others will gravitate toward Washington’s resounding metamorphosis from a free-wheeling offensive juggernaut to a defense-first team with a handful of game-breaking scorers. Meanwhile, depressed Rangers fans might argue that the spotlight should be shined upon their impotent offense.

All three factions have a point, but either way, the Caps are up 2-0 in this first round series.

Washington 2, NY Rangers 0; Capitals lead series 2-0.

Two was the magic number of this game, as Washington won 2-0 to take a 2-0 series lead thanks to two goals scored in about two minutes during period No. 2.

Jason Chimera scored the game-winner at even strength while much-ballyhooed veteran Jason Arnott gave his team an insurance marker on the man advantage. Alex Ovechkin and Mike Green notched assists on Arnott’s power-play goal.

Neuvirth didn’t have to do a ton in his 22-save shutout, but Henrik Lundqvist might have some regrets – at least from a statistical standpoint – as he allowed those two tallies on only 18 shots.

The Capitals continue to play the tight-checking, defensive minded game that many found lacking from their playbook in previous seasons. Before they get too cocky, it’s important to note that Game 3 will take place away from home, so Washington technically only managed to “hold serve” at this point.

As happy as Washington must be right now, it’s important to note that they’ve only managed to score four goals in seven periods of hockey. Obviously, allowing a single tally in that span shows they’re playing the kind of inelegant style that can get things done, but they shouldn’t let these tough wins get to their heads.

Instead, they should be like Arnott, who avoided celebrating in the team’s post-game huddle. Sure, he did so because he once suffered a concussion in that situation when he was with Nashville, but he should spin it as yet another savvy veteran move. After all, the Capitals hope to celebrate much bigger accomplishments during the next two months, don’t they?

* Counting a near-complete period of overtime hockey in Game 1.

Struggling Sabre Tyler Ennis out with upper-body injury

Tyler Ennis, James Wisniewski
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Tyler Ennis can probably relate with the Buffalo Sabres’ opponent on Wednesday, as he’s struggling almost as much as the Nashville Predators.

Perhaps some of that has to do with health?

Whether that’s the case or not, Ennis is out for the Sabres tonight, as the team announced that he’s dealing with an upper-body injury.

The Buffalo News discussed Ennis’ struggles in this article.

“I’d say he’s pressing too much. You can’t make those plays in every situation and in every point you touch the puck,” Dan Bylsma said to the Buffalo News. “ … He’s just got to simplify his game. He is a special player who can make those plays, but he can’t be trying to do it every time he touches the puck.”

He’ll need to wait a while to start getting things together, anyway.

WATCH LIVE: Wednesday Night Rivalry (Flyers-Islanders; Blackhawks-Sharks)

Ryan White, Matt Martin
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You can check out tonight’s Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader on NBCSN, and you can also stream them online.

Here are the handy links for the two contests.

First, the New York Islanders host the Philadelphia Flyers.


After that, the Chicago Blackhawks visit the San Jose Sharks.


Braun out with upper-body injury; Zubrus to make Sharks debut

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The San Jose Sharks will be missing a top-4 defenseman tonight when they host the defending champs from Chicago.

Justin Braun has an upper-body injury. His status is considered day-to-day.

“Brauny has been one of our unsung heroes here through the first quarter of the season,” coach Peter DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “He’s played some outstanding hockey. So, we’re going to miss him, but it’s a great opportunity for Mueller and Tennyson and one of these guys to establish themselves. It’s a great opportunity for us to reward Dillon for how well he’s played.”

Against the Blackhawks, Brenden Dillon will take Braun’s spot on the top pairing alongside Marc-Edouard Vlasic; Paul Martin and Brent Burns will stay together on the second pairing; and 20-year-old Mirco Mueller will skate with Matt Tennyson.

Mueller has played just four games for the Sharks this season. In his last game, Thursday in Philadelphia, he received only 9:13 of ice time.

Also tonight, new Shark forward Dainius Zubrus is expected to debut on the fourth line.

Related: Sharks sign Zubrus, because DeBoer

Johansen calls trade rumblings ‘weird,’ says relationship with Torts is ‘great’

Ryan Johansen
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One day after reports surfaced of Ryan Johansen being at the center of trade talks, all parties involved from Columbus did what they’re supposed to do — downplay the situation.

You can read the denials in full over at the Dispatch, but here’s the gist:

— Johansen said the rumors were “weird” and that he’s “never seen it before.” He also said there were no issues between him and head coach John Tortorella, calling the relationship “great.”

— GM Jarmo Kekalainen wouldn’t address the report, nor would Johansen’s agent, Kurt Overhardt.

— Johansen added he hasn’t spoken to any of Columbus’ management about the trade rumblings.

So there’s that. What’s next?

At this stage of the game, it’s hard not to think about another Overhardt client, Kyle Turris.

Turris, you’ll recall, spent four (mostly) stormy years with the Coyotes before his trade out to Ottawa was orchestrated. Turris eventually told GM Don Maloney “this is not going to work out” with the club, and he was gone.

So, consider the similarities now:

— Turris was 22 at the time of the trade, with four years and 137 games under his belt.

— Johansen is 23, with five years and 291 games.

— Both had contentious contract holdouts with their respective clubs.

— Both are Overhardt guys.

— The Turris trade happened after the Coyotes went from Wayne Gretzky to Dave Tippett as head coach.

— Johansen is already on his third head coach (Scott Arniel, Todd Richards, Tortorella).

For now, these are all coincidences (or a forced narrative, depending what you think of the author).

And, of course, the one big — big — difference between the two is that, at the time of his trade, Turris wasn’t as good or established a player as Johansen currently is. Therefore, logic suggests any Johansen trade would be a lot more blockbuster-y and, therefore, probably more complex.

And as we know, complex deals aren’t easy to pull off.