Rangers look to sweep Capitals Sunday night following stellar game 3 performance

Apr 26, 2024; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin (31) celebrates with teammates after their game against the Washington Capitals in game three of the first round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers have been nothing short of dominant throughout the first three games of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Blueshirts were gifted an easier matchup against the Washington Capitals, but they have still managed to impress with an incredible 4-line showing thus far. Now, heading into the weekend, New York has the opportunity to clean sweep their divisional rivals and advance to the second round Sunday night.

Rangers shine in game 3, take commanding series lead over Capitals

Apr 23, 2024; New York, New York, USA;  Washington Capitals center Aliaksei Protas (21) and New York Rangers defenseman Adam Fox (23) battle for the puck during the second period in game two of the first round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

Friday night’s game two in Washington was perhaps the most pivotal game of the series thus far. The Blueshirts were up 2-0 in the series, and it was do or die for the Capitals. If they wanted any chance to get back in it, a win was needed at home for Alex Ovechkin and the struggling Caps. Despite Washington amping up the intensity, however, the Rangers were able to secure a dominant 3-1 win on the road.

The biggest star of the game had to be Igor Shesterkin. With their playoff hopes on the line, the Capitals desperately fought to keep their season alive. They quickly took an early 1-0 lead over New York, but the Rangers quickly shifted the momentum back in their favor with a game-tying goal by Chris Kreider.

After the Capitals’ lead became short-lived, Igor Shesterkin became a brick wall between the pipes. Although the Blueshirts would go on to allow six power-play attempts for Washington, he and the Rangers’ defense managed to go a perfect 6/6 on the penalty kill.

Shesterkin would finish the game with an incredible .966 SV%, allowing just that one goal early on. Through Shesterkin’s heroics and some help from the offensive corps, the Rangers were able to make light work of the Capitals in game three and look to sweep the series Sunday night.

New York Rangers  goalie Igor Shesterkin (31) gets focussed in the first period against the Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre
Dec 5, 2023; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; New York Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin (31) gets focussed in the first period against the Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Rangers can close out the series on the road Sunday night

After dominating game three Friday night, the Blueshirts have just one day off before getting back on the ice Sunday evening. They’ll be on the road once more for game four, but have the opportunity to advance to the second round with just one more victory.

It’s essential that the Blueshirts do not get comfortable with their current 3-0 series lead. Only four teams in NHL history have come back from a 3-0 series deficit to win, making it highly unlikely that the Capitals will be able to save their season, but the Rangers will want as much rest as possible before heading into the second round.

In the recent past, the Blueshirts have been known to take somewhat easier playoff matchups and extend what should be a four or five-game series all the way to six or seven. This tires the roster out immensely, creating a challenge moving forward to the following round. With the Carolina Hurricanes up 3-0 over the New York Islanders, who also have the chance to advance Saturday afternoon, it’s key that the Rangers close their series out as soon as possible as well.

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