Rangers tighten up defensively and end skid, beat Caps 2-1

NHL: Washington Capitals at New York Rangers
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers snapped a season-long four-game losing streak by edging the Washington Capitals 2-1 on Sunday afternoon.

After watching a 2-1 lead slip away in the third period yesterday, resulting in a 3-2 loss, New York maintained the same one-goal lead in front of the hometown crowd today. Despite numerous scoring opportunities in the final period, they were stonewalled by Charlie Lindgren, who finished the game with 29 saves.

Before the puck drop, the Rangers announced that Kaapo Kakko would return to the lineup after missing the previous 21 games. Meanwhile, Alexis Lafreniere tallied the game-winner late in the first period, while Artemi Panarin started a new point streak with the game’s opening goal just 50 seconds into the contest.

“We had a tough stretch,” Lafreniere said, “It was good to get a win and a big two points. We’ll look to keep it going.”

Although the Rangers didn’t get a power-play goal, they had 12 shots on the man advantage and picked up two much-needed points to maintain their Metro Division lead over the Carolina Hurricanes.

Related: 3 Rangers that need to step up

New York Rangers 2 vs Washington Capitals 1

NHL: Washington Capitals at New York Rangers
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Rangers were hungry off the opening faceoff, jumping out to an early 1-0 lead when Panarin buried his 27th goal of the season less than a minute (0:50) into the contest.

Ultimately, they didn’t let up in the first period. They extended their lead when Lafreniere netted his 11th goal of the season in the dying seconds (19:10) of the opening frame, a goal that would eventually stand up as the game-winner.

As mentioned, the Rangers dominated the first period, with Igor Shesterkin making just six saves, getting the bulk of his work in the frame’s final minutes. However, the Capitals pressed for most of the second period, with T.J. Oshie cutting into the lead at 11:03. By the end of the frame, New York had the same one-goal advantage they had 24 hours ago, heading into the dressing room hoping not to experience another case of deja vu.

Despite Washington’s numerous opportunities on Shesterkin, he kept the Rangers in the contest, finishing his afternoon with 23 saves to pick up his 17th win of the year. Meanwhile, upon his return to action, Kakko had two shots on goal and skated 16:04.

With the opening goal, Panarin scored his league-leading 7th first goal, and the Rangers remain undefeated in their third jerseys, improving to 4-0-0. Surprisingly, the Capitals got the best of New York in the faceoff circle, winning 58% of the draws.

We had a lot of good looks and chances,” coach Peter Laviolette explained. “It was gutsy to the end… I thought we defended hard and walked away with a win.”

Rangers Notes

  • Trocheck picked up his 29th assist of the year and now trails Panarin for the team lead by three
  • Shesterkin is now 8-4-0 against the Capitals in his career
  • Lafreniere tallied his first goal since Dec. 27, which happened to be in a contest against the Capitals
  • Trocheck skated 22:46, the second most minutes behind Fox, who played 24:02

The Rangers have Martin Luther King Jr. Day off before welcoming the red-hot Seattle Kraken, winners of 10 straight, to the Garden on Tuesday night. The puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 pm E.T.

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