Both the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers were expected to be Stanley Cup contenders entering this season, but through the first two months of the season, only the latter was living up to the promise.
The East-leading Rangers entered Verizon Center Wednesday looking to win their sixth straight game and eighth of 11, while the Caps were just looking for a win, period. On this night, Washington proved that they still possess the talent to challenge for the Cup in a 4-1 win.
Everything went right for Washington; Alexander Semin had his first two-goal game of the season; Alex Ovechkin had his first multi-point night in over a month; Tomas Vokoun stood on his head at times, making 31 big saves, including 15 in the third period. The integral pieces that normally determine the Caps' success fit together.
In two of the last three seasons, the Caps and Rangers have met in the playoffs with the former as the higher seed. It's too early to predict a playoff series, but Washington proved Wednesday that the rumors of its demise may have been greatly exaggerated.
"It is nice to get a win," Tomas Vokoun said. "We played with a lot of emotion today and guys battled back hard, especially on [the] penalty kill and all around. We executed the game plan we had; we wanted to be physical and play simple hockey. We did that for most parts. When we do that we are usually successful."