Rangers blow 3rd period lead, fall to Capitals 3-2

NHL: New York Rangers at Washington Capitals
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers extended their losing streak to a season-long four games (0-3-1), dropping a 3-2 decision to the Washington Capitals on Saturday.

The Rangers let a 2-1 third-period lead slip away, surrendering two goals just 1:53 apart by Nic Dowd and T.J. Oshie. In a recurring theme, they were shut down by Capitals goalie Charlie Lindgren, who made 25 saves after previously shutting out the Rangers on Dec. 9.

“This one was a little bit different for me,” Rangers coach Peter Laviolette said postgame. “I thought we were, for the most part, pretty tight defensively. … The previous games generated just a ton of offense (against) and we just gave up a little too much.”

Blown lead dooms Rangers in third period against Capitals

Despite trying to end a three-game skid, the Rangers looked sluggish at the start Saturday. It took them more than seven minutes to record their first shot on goal. Yet they scored first and led 2-1 after 40 minutes on a pair of goals by Adam Fox.

Playing without Alex Ovechkin, who was out with a lower-body injury, the Capitals found life midway through the third period when Dowd tipped home the rebound of an Evgeni Kuznetsov shot to tie the game 2-2 at 6:36. Just 1:53 late Oshie redirected a Dylan Strome pass behind Rangers goalie Jonathan Quick to give Washington its first lead of the afternoon.

“They had two chances in the third period and scored on both of them,” Laviolette said. “Defensively, I thought we played a pretty good game.”

The Rangers pulled Quick with more than two minutes remaining in regulation but had few good chances against Lindgren. Quick finished with 18 saves and is 0-3-1 in his past four starts since a 5-1 win against the Anaheim Ducks on Dec. 15.

Related: Rangers will need more depth, grit for stretch run

Adam Fox scores twice in Rangers most recent loss

Fox opened the scoring at 13:23 of the first period. The Rangers defenseman deposited a blocked pass that returned to him, behind Lindgren, who anticipated a slot feed to Mika Zibanejad that never made it through.

Washington forward Anthony Mantha scored on a breakaway at 17:40 of the first period before Fox scored his second goal of the game for New York. Fox slapped home a shot that zipped by three bodies in front and past the screened Lindgren after a Capitals turnover at 5:15 of the second period.

It was the first multi-goal game this season for Fox, who has seven in 31 games. He’s scored in three of his past four games during New York’s winless skid. Artemi Panarin was held without a point, ending his nine-game point streak.

“It’s one that slipped away from us for sure,” Fox said. “It’s obviously frustrating now, 2-1 lead going into the third and we gave them chances they capitalized on.”

The Rangers dominated the face-off circle, winning 69 percent of the draws Saturday. Vincent Trocheck won a whopping 20 of 24 face-offs, including several in the closing minutes of the game.

Zibanejad returned to the Rangers lineup, had four shots on goal and won seven of 13 face-offs in 22:29 of ice time. He didn’t play in a 5-2 loss at the St. Louis Blues on Thursday because of an illness.

There’s no rest for the weary as these Metropolitan Division rivals conclude their season series on Sunday at Madison Square Garden, when the Capitals looking to win three out of the four meetings. The opening faceoff is scheduled for 1 pm E.T.

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