Tom Wilson had two goals, Alex Ovechkin scored the 724th of his career and the Washington Capitals held on to beat the New York Rangers 5-4 for their 10th victory in 11 games
WASHINGTON — Tom Wilson had two goals, Alex Ovechkin scored the 724th of his career and the Washington Capitals held on to beat the New York Rangers 5-4 Sunday for their 10th victory in 11 games.
Ovechkin has 11 goals in those 11 games and leads the team with 18 this season. He’s seven shy of tying Marcel Dionne for fifth on the NHL career goal-scoring list.
The Capitals led 4-0 early in the third period on a goal by Evgeny Kuznetsov before a Rangers scoring flurry made things interesting. T.J. Oshie’s deflection goal with 8:14 left that gave him a three-point game proved crucial as it stood up as the game-winner.
Colin Blackwell scored twice on his 28th birthday, No. 1 pick Alexis Lafrenière scored the fifth goal of his rookie season and Chris Kreider scored on the power play, cutting New York’s deficit to one with 3:52 left. Ilya Samsonov made a few final saves to give him 16 in his second consecutive victory.
Kuznetsov has 12 goals in his past 10 games and Wilson four in four since returning from a seven-game suspension. Oshie assisted on Ovechikin’s goal and one by Wilson, and Jakub Vrana picked up his first point in five games.
Keith Kinkaid made 17 saves for the Rangers, who have lost back-to-back one-goal games after a three-game winning streak.
The Capitals remained unbeaten in regulation in one-goal games. They went 5-1 on their five-game homestand and are now two points up on the second-place New York Islanders atop the East Division.
Samsonov started two games in a row for the second time this season and first since March 11 and 13 against the Flyers. He had been rotating with Vitek Vanecek, who started all but one game while Samsonov was out with COVID-19, but Samsonov’s 24-save shutout of New Jersey was enough to earn the nod in net again.
“His last game, he played really well,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “He had a day off and a break, so it wasn’t a stress situation for either goaltender. There’s plenty of games coming up, so I wouldn’t read too much into it.”
Rangers coach David Quinn was back behind the bench after missing the past six games while in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol. Quinn said he “didn’t get hit too bad by it” and experienced only mild symptoms.
Quinn spoke to Vegas coach Peter DeBoer, who also missed time after testing positive for the virus and thought there was a silver lining to watching from home. It helped that the Rangers scored nine goals in one game, eight in another and went 4-2 without Kris Knoblauch serving as interim coach.
“Me being away from the team was a little bit longer than his, so mine was probably a little bit more painful,” Quinn said. “You see things a little bit differently. I think you can give yourself a chance to do some self-evaluation. I think it was a good opportunity for me to kind of reset and watch things from a different light.”
ELLER STILL OUT
The Capitals played their seventh consecutive game without Lars Eller because of a lower-body injury and eighth of the past nine without their third-line center. Despite that lengthy absence, Laviolette isn’t considering Eller out long term.
“You’re taking things day by day and watching players as they get evaluated,” he said. “I would still say that he’s day to day. I don’t think there’s any need to increase that.”
Phil Di Giuseppe entered the Rangers lineup after Brendan Lemieux was traded to the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday for a fourth-round pick. Quinn said a “logjam” of forwards precipitated the trade.
“It seemed like the right thing to do,” Quinn said. “It’s going to give (Lemieux) an opportunity to maybe play in a little bit more of a role that he’s looking for. He was a good player for us, and we’re going to miss him.”
Prospect Vitali Kravtsov is rejoining the team after playing in the Kontinental Hockey League this season adds another option. It’s uncertain when the 21-year-old forward will make his NHL debut.
LAST IN D.C. WITHOUT FANS?
The Capitals played in front of empty stands for the 19th and perhaps final time at home this season. They’re the last in the East Division — and one of just five U.S. teams — without fans or plans announced for their return at a limited capacity. Washington next plays at home April 8 against the Boston Bruins.
These teams face off again Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden, the opener of the Capitals’ five-game road trip all in the New York area with games at the Rangers, Islanders and New Jersey Devils.
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