After back-to-back clunkers, the New York Rangers played their best offensive game of the season on Friday.
Ruslan Fedotenko scored twice and Ryan Callahan had three assists as the Rangers set a season high for goals by beating the Washington Capitals 6-3 before a disappointed sellout crowd at the Verizon Center.
The Rangers managed just one goal and only 37 shots in back-to-back losses at Montreal and Florida, which followed a seven-game winning streak. But after a scoreless first period, they scored three times in a 4:18 span in the second and never looked back.
"I felt like we played much better," Fedotenko said. "We stuck to the system, everyone had good jump, we created a lot of offense and held on to the puck with good cycles. That was our goal and we did it. I thought all the way, right from the beginning, we were much sharper than we have been."
Artem Anisimov and Brad Richards each had a goal and an assist. Defenseman Dan Girardi had two assists.
Coach John Tortorella said the Rangers' improved play defensively led to their biggest offensive output of the season.
"Our whole focus was to play better away from the puck and hope the offense takes off," he said. "Tonight it did."
Washington's Alex Ovechkin broke a six-game streak without a goal with his eighth of the season -- and his first at home. But it came 5:57 into the third period with the Capitals trailing 5-2.
Henrik Lundqvist made 18 saves for the Rangers, but eight of them came in the scoreless first period -- including one on which he went right to left to deny Joel Ward on what looked like a sure goal.
Instead, the teams entered the second period scoreless, but that didn't last long thanks to a parade of mistakes by the Caps.
Marian Gaborik scored his 10th goal of the season at 3:37 to give New York a 1-0 lead, taking a cross-ice pass feed from Derek Stepan and beating Michal Neuvirth with a slap shot from the right wing.
Anisimov made it 2-0 at 6:52 with his second of the season and the Rangers' first power-play goal in 15 tries. Just 63 seconds later, Ryan Callahan stole the puck from Marcus Johansson in front of the Capitals' net and dished it to Fedotenko, who easily made it 3-0.
"That's out biggest issue -- we take five minutes off and they get three goals," Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner said. "We have to be a little tougher mentally right now."
Added center Nicklas Backstrom: "They were moving their legs. We were having trouble getting the puck out.
Washington, which is 5-8-1 after a 7-0-0 start, got back in the game briefly with a pair of goals.
Troy Brouwer tapped his fourth goal of the season past Lundqvist at 8:53. John Carlson made it 3-2 at 12:52, blasting a 30-foot power-play slapper over Lundqvist's left pad for his fourth goal of the season. But Brian Boyle put the Rangers back in charge at 16:45 with his second goal of the season.
"It seems like we start to feel sorry for ourselves," Caps coach Bruce Boudreau said. "Then we score a goal and saw 'we're back in it.' Then we got the second one, and I was sure we were back in it -- then 'boom,' they get that one right away and we feel sorry for ourselves again."
Rookie Carl Hagelin, playing his first NHL game, earned one of the two assists on Boyle goal.
"It's awesome to get (the first point) off my chest right away," Hagelin said. "Not that I focus too much on that because I just try and play a two-way game and make sure my line doesn't get scored on. Today we were a plus, so that is good."
Richards' seventh goal of the season gave New York a 5-2 lead at 4:14 of the third, and after Ovechkin scored his first of the season, Fedotenko's goal with 8:20 to play ended any comeback hopes the Caps may have had.
"I thought we got back to basics," said Girardi, who led all players with 29:13 of ice time. "We kept it real simple. That's how we're going to win games."
Material from team media was used in this report