The New York Rangers rallied back from an early two-goal deficit to tie the game but fell 3-2 in a four-round shootout to the surging Washington Capitals. Both Alex Ovehckin, who finished the night with a goal and an assist, and Nicklas Backstrom tallied in the skills competition as the Capitals collected their third straight win. With 33 points, however, the Blueshirts climbed back into the playoff picture in the East, securing eight place with the Carolina Hurricanes idle.
Back in action: After missing 15 games with a back injury, fourth-line forward Arron Asham gave the Rangers some life with his first-period goal that cut the Capitals’ lead in half, 2-1. On a 2-on-1 rush, Asham beat Caps goaltender Braden Holtby high-glove for his second goal of the season at 14:12. The fourth line continued to spark the Blueshirts as Darroll Powe drew a penalty that helped the Rangers to a five-on-three power play.
All tied up: With the Rangers on the two-man advantage, Derek Stepan banked in a bad-angle shot to tie the game with 1:57 remaining in the first period. Stepan's ninth goal of the season was the Rangers' first power-play marker in seven games.
Big boost: The Rangers’ special teams delivered again in the second period, this time on the penalty kill. With the Caps on a five-on-three early in the middle frame, the Rangers shut them down to retain their end-of-first-period momentum and ignite the Garden crowd.
Third-line duty: Marian Gaborik found himself back on the third line Sunday night with center Brian Boyle and left wing Taylor Pyatt while recently recalled Chris Kreider earned a promotion to the first, where he skated with center Brad Richards and Rick Nash.
Hot start: Riding a two-game winning streak into Sunday’s match, the Capitals came out with confidence and took a 2-0 lead midway through the first. After a puck bounced off Nicklas Backstrom for a power-play goal at 7:54, Ovechkin followed up with a deflection minutes later. It was No. 8’s sixth goal in the past five games. He has nine points during that span.
Easy Mac: Ryan McDonagh missed some time in the second period after a knee-on-knee collision with Ovechkin, but he returned to the ice and finished the middle frame with seven shifts.
Up next: Rangers vs. Flyers at 7 p.m.