NHL

Capitals top Rangers for fifth straight win

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NEW YORK (AP)

Matt Hendricks' third-period goal gave Washington its first lead and sent the Capitals to their season-high fifth straight victory, 5-3 over the New York Rangers on Tuesday night.

In a wild and physical game that featured surprise goal-scorers on both sides, the Capitals beat the Rangers for the fourth consecutive time. Washington is 9-1-1 in its last 11 against New York and 4-0-1 at Madison Square Garden over three seasons.

Capitals defenseman Mike Green and forward Alexander Semin both had four-game goal streaks snapped, but Washington got plenty of offense from Brooks Laich, John Erskine, and Mike Knuble. Laich added his second into an empty net with 5.6 seconds left.

Brian Boyle, who had never scored more than four goals in a season, had two to raise his season total to seven, and Rangers enforcer Derek Boogaard netted his first in nearly five years, but it wasn't enough. New York squandered three one-goal leads and lost for the third time in four games. The Rangers (7-7-1) are 2-5-1 at home.

Hendricks, who earlier had a knee-on-knee collision with Rangers defenseman Steve Eminger, took a crisp backhanded pass near the right post from Matt Bradley and snapped a shot past goalie Henrik Lundqvist at 7:53 for the winner.

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Knuble got Washington even for the third time when he cleaned up a rebound for a goal after a thrilling rush up ice by Alex Ovechkin shortly after a Capitals power play ended midway through the second.

Ovechkin glided past Sean Avery as he surged into the New York end and then made his way around lunging defenseman Marc Staal before shoving the puck on net. Lundqvist got his stick on it, but directed it in front right to Knuble, who scored into an open net at 9:18.

Until then, the period was dominated by the most unlikeliest of goal scorers.

Erskine made it 2-all with his first goal in 32 games, dating to Jan. 26, but only his eighth in 338 NHL games. Hendricks won an offensive zone faceoff back to Tyler Sloan, who moved the puck right-to-left along the blue line to Erskine, his defense partner. Erskine skated to the top of the left circle and fired a slap shot that beat Lundqvist over his right shoulder at 2:34.

Before the surprise wore off, the crowd witnessed another shocking goal. This one was a pleasant surprise for fans of the home team.

Sloan had the puck bounce past him at the right point, and Boogaard tracked it down and skated alone into the Washington zone. When he reached the left circle, the fighting forward unleash a slap shot similar to Erskine's and beat goalie Michal Neuvirth over his right shoulder 41 seconds later to make it 3-2.

Boogaard, who has three goals and 565 penalty minutes in 268 career games, scored for the first time since Jan. 7, 2006, at Anaheim while playing for Minnesota.

The first period was particularly rough and chippy considering these teams were meeting for the first time this season.

It started early when uncommon fighters, Washington defenseman Mike Green and Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky dropped the gloves and removed their helmets at 5:17 deep in the New York zone. Dubinsky stalked the retreating Green to the other side of the zone before they got together and exchanged punches.

Boyle scored twice around Laich's fourth goal. The period featured 25 shots and 28 penalty minutes. Boyle made it 1-0 at 4:02, Laich tied it on a power play at 8:52, and Boyle connected again during a Rangers advantage at 12:56 to make it 2-1.

Boyle has scored three times in three games.

Tagged: Rangers, Capitals, Henrik Lundqvist, Alex Ovechkin, Mike Knuble, Brooks Laich, John Erskine, Mike Green, Derek Boogaard, Brian Boyle, Matt Hendricks

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