WASHINGTON (AP)Mika Zibanejad scored the go-ahead goal with 2:32 left, Keith Kinkaid made 28 saves and the New York Rangers beat the Washington Capitals 3-1 Saturday night to snap the NHL’s longest winning streak at seven.
New York has won three of four against East Division-leading Washington this season. The Rangers led for much ofthe game Friday night before losing on two late goals by Alex Ovechkin.
It looked like a similar recipe Friday after Pavel Buchnevich gave the Rangers a lead late in the first period with his 11th goal of the season off a perfect pass from defenseman Adam Fox. John Carlson tied it on a rebound with 14:05 left, and the Capitals threatened on an ensuring power play.
”I was really worried about the confidence,” said Rangers acting coach Kris Knoblauch, who filled in for a third consecutive game with David Quinn and his staff in league COVID protocol. ”It could’ve easily been `Oh, here we go again.’ But guys were positive, especially the leaders were talking and just wanted to make sure we finished this one out. I don’t think there was panic at all.”
Kinkaid kept the Rangers in the game, and Zibanejad won it almost singlehandedly. He hounded Capitals defenseman Brenden Dillon in the offensive zone, stole the puck and roofed a shot past Ilya Samsonov.
”It was a tough bounce,” Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said. ”It was a tough break. Dilly’s been so good for us. It was just one of those bounces that didn’t go our way. We’ll move past it.”
Zibanejad’s goal was his seventh of the season after a rough start.
”I feel like myself again,” Zibanejad said. ”It feels nice when you can contribute offensively. That’s what’s expected out of me.”
Brett Howden sealed it with an empty-netter with 28 seconds left, handing Washington its first loss since March 5 at Boston.
”Every loss is disappointing,” Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov said. ”We are trying to build the momentum. We are trying to build the spirit that it is very tough to play against us, so of course it is disappointing.”
Kinkaid, the Rangers’ third goaltender, picked up his second victory of the season a week after shutting out the Boston Bruins. He and Alexandar Georgiev remain the rotation with Igor Shesterkin still out with a groin strain.
”I don’t want to stop here,” Kinkaid said. ”I want to keep it going.”
Ovechkin went down the tunnel followed by a trainer midway through the second period and skated around a few times during stoppages like he was trying to loosen something up. The Capitals captain returned to action and appeared to be rolling something on the back of his right leg while sitting on the bench between shifts.
Despite all that, Ovechkin played 22:56, the most of any forward in the game.
LOW LAFRENIERE ICE TIME
No. 1 pick Alexis Lafreniere skated a season-low 07:53 of ice time on 14 shifts. Knoblauch blamed himself.
”It’s probably mismanagement of the bench and not realizing the situation,” he said. ”I did want to keep him away from their top line. But other than that, I wish I would’ve played him more. It was just that they had last change, there was a lot of D-zone faceoffs for us and just unfortunately he missed out on some shifts.”
ELLER STILL OUT
Washington got winger Tom Wilson back after serving his five-game suspension but was still without third-line center Lars Eller because of a lower-body injury. Eller missed his fourth consecutive game.
Without Eller, T.J. Oshie started the game at center, a position he played earlier this season when the Capitals were missing Eller and Kuznetsov.
JOHNSON DONE FOR SEASON
Rangers defenseman Jack Johnson underwent core muscle repair surgery and will be out for the rest of the season. Johnson hadn’t played since March 9 and was limited to one goal – that game – in 13 with the Rangers this season after being bought out by Pittsburgh.
Rangers: Return home to face the last-place Buffalo Sabres on Monday.
Capitals: Get a few days to rest up before hosting the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night in the first half of a back-to-back set.
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