NEW YORK -- Things continue to get worse for the Rangers. After blowing a lead in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Devils Saturday night and losing defenseman Marc Staal to a potential concussion in the process, the Rangers dropped their second straight in a 4-1 loss to the Capitals and goaltending newbie Philipp Grubauer.
The Blueshirts are now 15-15-1, and have surrendered ground in the Metropolitan division standings with a loss to the Caps.
Washington rattled off three straight goals in the third period -- two within a span of 25 seconds -- and rookie Nate Schmidt chipped in with his second goal in as many games to shut the door on the bumbling Blueshirts.
Benoit Pouliot spoiled Grubbauer's shutout bid with less than two minutes to play, but the Rangers didn't have any more offense to add beyond the garbage-time marker.
Second-period sting: After Henrik Lundqvist's shutout streak against the Capitals was snapped at the 202:28 mark (dating back to the playoffs last spring) and it was all the Caps needed to pile on during the middle frame. Jason Chimera opened the floodgates, sweeping the puck past Lundqvist after a goal-mouth scramble 2:28 into the period. Caps defenseman Steve Oleksy notched his first goal of the season less than 30 seconds later with a point shot that Lundqvist never got a good look at. Though Lundqvist made a trio of fantastic saves following the early hiccups, the Caps cushioned a two-goal lead after a questionable penalty shot was awarded to Mikhail Grabovski late in the period. Grabovski sizzled a slap-shot high and hard past Lundqvist from point-blank range to put the Caps up 3-0.
Staal experiencing symptoms: The Rangers have good reason to be concerned with Staal experiencing both "neck issues" and unspecified "symptoms" stemming from Saturday night's hit by Reid Boucher. Though it is not immediately clear how much longer Staal is expected to be out of the lineup beyond Sunday's game, the Blueshirts have to be hoping that it won't be a long-term injury. Staal has missed extended time the past two seasons -- first with a concussion in 2011-12, then with an eye injury in 2012-13 -- and the Rangers have yet to rule out a concussion with his latest injury. 23-year-old Michael Del Zotto replaced Staal in the lineup Sunday, slotting in on the left side of the team's second defensive pairing with Anton Stralman.