NEW YORK (AP) — Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis each scored twice, Henrik Lundqvist made 30 saves and the New York Rangers extended their winning streak to seven games with a 4-2 victory over the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night.
The game matched two of the NHL’s hottest teams in their final outing before the Christmas break. Washington had won three in a row, picking up points in nine straight games (7-0-2).
Mats Zuccarello and Derick Brassard had two assists apiece for the Rangers.
Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin scored for Washington.
It was the first meeting of the season between the Metropolitan Division rivals. The Rangers and Capitals are tied with 40 points in third place — the last guaranteed playoff spot in the division. New York has two games in hand on the Capitals.
Nash got the only goal of the opening period at 3:32, deflecting Zuccarello’s shot past Braden Holtby. It came moments after Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh won a 1-on-1 battle with Ovechkin, standing up the Washington star as he broke toward the net.
Ovechkin and linemate Nicklas Backstrom almost tied it later in the period when they had consecutive point-blank shots that Lundqvist denied.
Ovechkin was called for boarding Zuccarello 27 seconds into the second period, and the Rangers connected.
St. Louis got the goal at 1:03, converting a brilliant pass from Dan Boyle at the point. Boyle faked a shot before sending the puck to St. Louis, positioned below the right circle. He whipped a sharp-angle shot past Holtby to give New York a 2-0 lead.
The Capitals came out flying to start the third period, peppering Lundqvist with nine shots in the first 3 minutes.
He stood his ground, and got some breathing room when Nash, using Washington defenseman John Carlson as a screen, fired home his second goal at 5:12 for a 3-0 lead. It was his team-leading 22nd of the season.
Lundqvist lost his shutout bid when Kuznetsov scored 41 seconds later, a soft shot that Lundqvist missed as he tried to make a kick save.
The Capitals kept coming, pulling within one on Ovechkin’s power-play goal at 10:58.
The momentum, at that point in Washington’s favor, changed with a spate of Capitals penalties. Backstrom got a double minor for high-sticking Brassard at 14:35. Jason Chimera at the same time picked up a faceoff-violation penalty, giving the Rangers a 5-on-3 power play.
St. Louis cashed in, knocking in the rebound of Nash’s shot after it hit the post at 16:12 to put the Rangers up 4-2.
NOTES: The teams don’t meet again until March 11, but they play three times in the final month. … Both teams resume play Saturday. Washington will be in Pittsburgh; New York hosts New Jersey. … The New York City police honor guard presented the colors for the national anthem and received a prolonged ovation from the crowd. … Washington had 21 shots in the third period.
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