Capitals 6, Rangers 5
As if the Washington Capitals needed any more help while
streaking through the NHL schedule, when they go for win No. 13 in
a row against Atlanta, they won’t even have to face Ilya
On the night Kovalchuk was dealt from the Thrashers to the New
Jersey Devils, Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and the rest of
NHL-leading Capitals pulled out a 6-5 back-and-forth win over the
New York Rangers on Thursday.
Backstrom’s third-period, power-play goal – his fifth point of
the night – snapped a tie and put the Capitals ahead for good.
Washington will return home on Friday night to face Southeast
Division-rival Atlanta, a playoff-hopeful club that suddenly is
without the biggest star in franchise history.
“It’s still another game to win,” said Mike Knuble, who had a
goal and an assist while on a line with Ovechkin and Backstrom.
“They might be a little bit out of sorts with a big deal
Everything seems to be clicking just fine for the Capitals, who
haven’t lost since Jan. 12 at Tampa Bay and have outscored
opponents 57-27 in the franchise-record streak.
Backstrom already had four assists when he got to a loose puck
near the left circle and snapped in his 24th goal to make it 6-5 at
5:34 of the third. Washington scored three goals on the power play
to offset a season-high four man-advantage goals by the
Ovechkin had two goals and an assist to reach 500 NHL points. He
is the fifth player to achieve the milestone in five seasons, doing
it in only 373 games.
“We’re pretty confident. There is a good atmosphere in the
locker room,” Ovechkin said. “This team is playing good right now
and we feel good about ourselves. If I don’t play well, a different
guy steps up. We play for each other.”
Boyd Gordon and defenseman Tom Poti added goals for the
Capitals. It was Backstrom’s second five-point game this
New York returned home from a 1-2 Western trip, but couldn’t
turn its best offensive output in eight games into a win. Vinny
Prospal had two goals, and newly acquired forward Olli Jokinen,
Brandon Dubinsky, and Ryan Callahan also put pucks past Jose
Theodore. The Rangers lost in regulation for the seventh time in
eight games and have slipped below the postseason cutoff in the
“It’s easy to start questioning your game when you let in six
goals, but I don’t think I played that bad,” goalie Henrik
Lundqvist said. “It was just a really tough game. They find ways
to create big scoring chances. They don’t shoot that much, but they
Leading scorer Marian Gaborik had two assists, as did Jokinen
and Prospal for New York. But Jokinen was also called for three
penalties, including a hooking call against Poti that led to
“It’s disappointing,” Jokinen said. “We’ve got to find a way
to stay out of the penalty box. That was the difference. Our power
play was good. We scored five goals at home. We should be able to
“Everybody knows where we’re at in the standings. We’ve got to
treat every game like a playoff game.”
The Capitals (39-12-6), who lead the NHL in scoring, erased
deficits of 1-0, 2-1, and 5-3. They held on with the help of three
power plays in the final 11 minutes.
“Even though they took a lead, we knew we would score,”
Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. “Lundqvist didn’t look as
sharp as he has against us in the past.”
The Rangers carried play in the first period and took a 1-0 lead
at 8:58 when Callahan tipped in a shot by Jokinen, snapping New
York’s 0 for 25 power-play slump over seven games. Gordon tied it
with 3:20 left in the frame, despite Washington being outshot 15-5
at the time.
Prospal got that one back just 10 seconds later, and New York
finished the period with a 2-1 lead and an 18-6 shots
The tide turned in the second as Washington quickly caught up in
shots and on the scoreboard. Knuble’s 20th goal made it 2-2 at
4:41, and Ovechkin’s power-play tally at 7:16 gave the Capitals
their first lead.
Jokinen, in his second game since being acquired from Calgary on
Monday, scored his 12th of the season and first with the Rangers to
make it 3-3 at 12:19. Prospal put New York back on top 40 seconds
Dubinsky’s power-play goal with 1:12 left in the second made it
5-3 and had Madison Square Garden rocking.
It didn’t last long as Ovechkin quieted the crowd by netting his
NHL-leading 38th, scoring a one-handed goal with only 8.5 seconds
left in the middle frame.
Former Rangers defenseman Poti tied it 5-5 just 59 seconds into
the third, 36 seconds after New York rookie Michael Del Zotto was
sent off for high-sticking.
NOTES: Gaborik scored five of New York’s six goals in the
three-game road trip. … The Capitals allowed as many as three
goals for only the fourth time in their streak. … Washington was
3 for 9 on the power play. New York, which finished with a 38-32
edge in shots, was 4 for 6.