Two weeks in seems a bit premature to deem any game a "must-win," but the Rangers entered Wednesday night's match against the Capitals at a critical juncture of their season.
With only one win after their five-game road trip out West to start the season, the Rangers returned to the East Coast with an important 2-0 victory over the Capitals that showed dramatic improvement from last week.
Some positives from the night:
-- Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist looked like himself again after some shaky performances in the team's recent skid. The former Vezina Trophy winner looked sharp and aggressive in turning away all 22 shots faced to notch his first shutout of the season.
-- The Rangers looked far better in their own zone and managed to contain Alex Ovechkin & Co. The PK was crucial in that effort in shutting down the Caps' top-rated power-play on all four opportunities, including nearly a minute of 5-on-3 time.
-- Veteran Brad Richards continues to look like a completely different player from last season. The 33-year-old alternate captain, who had a dismal 2013 season, finished the night with a pair of assists. He leads the team with seven points in six games. Defenseman John Moore and captain Ryan Callahan were the Rangers' goal-scorers for the night.
-- The Rangers avoided what could've been another costly injury. Derek Stepan, who suffered an "accidental" hit to the head from Troy Brouwer during the game, returned to the ice in the third period. The team is already without Rick Nash, who has not played since sustaining a blow to the head last week.
Suffice it to say, it's not all rainbows and unicorns for the Rangers yet, but Wednesday was a necessary bounce-back performance that will go a long way as far as restoring some confidence to the club.