Searching for exactly what the New York Rangers’ high-priced forwards did in a 3-1 loss in Game 1 of the first-round series against Ovechkin’s Capitals on Thursday night takes you to the back page of the score sheet.
Brad Richards was a minus-1 and had one shot on goal. Rick Nash was more active with five shots (and four more that either missed or were blocked). No points. No assists.
Both were outshined at Verizon Center by teammate Carl Hagelin, who had the Rangers’ lone goal and had two scoring chances — a second-period breakaway and a post in third period — that were better than what either Richards or Nash put on Caps goalie Braden Holtby. Oh, and Hagelin makes $875,000 — 13.1 percent of Richard’s salary or 11.2 percent of Nash’s.
“He played well for us,” Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi said. “When he’s moving his legs, he’s at the top of his game. I think a lot of guys had some solid games out there. He led the way up front.”
Hagelin is on the Rangers’ top line, centered by Derek Stepan with Ryan Callahan on the opposite wing. But he didn’t get any time on what the Rangers pointed to as the turning point in what was a tied game, 1-1, midway through the second period: A 5-on-3 power player for 56 seconds.
“We had a couple good looks,” Callahan said. “After that, (momentum) seemed to swing a little bit their way.”
The Capitals had grabbed the lead and then extended it to the final margin in a 36-second span later in the second period on goals by Marcus Johansson and Jason Chimera.
Richards and Nash were the Rangers’ two major names (and contracts) the team took on over the last two offseasons, respectively. Having spent the bulk of his career with the Columbus Blue Jackets, this was only Nash’s fifth career postseason game. It was Richards’ 84th.
Richards is on a seven-game postseason run without a goal. Coincidentally, his last playoff goal came when the Rangers beat the Caps in Game 7 of their first-round series to advance a year ago.
“It’s very important,” Richards said when asked about getting production out of the top two lines. “It goes without saying.”