The Caps came home Friday night for their first game at the Verizon Center in 13 days -- and watched the New York Rangers shred them offensively and defensively in a 6-0 victory. Erik Christensen, usually a shootout specialist, had 2 goals and a pair of assists for a career-high four points, while Henrik Lundqvist stopped 35 shots to take the NHL lead with eight shutouts.
The six-goal differential marked the first time since Jan. 20 that a Rangers' game was not decided by one or two goals. It was the second blowout win of the season for New York against Washington -- nearly matching a 7-0 thrashing of the Caps on Dec. 12 at Madison Square Garden.
"We played the way we wanted to right from the start," said center Derek Stepan, who had a goal and an assist. "And then we finished it, too. It's a big step forward for us, and we're feeling pretty good."
The Caps appeared flat despite a three-day breather after ending their road trip with a 1-0 win Pittsburgh on Monday. They were 0-for-5 on the power play and drew boos as they left the ice following the first period.
"Our fans deserve better," said coach Bruce Boudreau, whose team has scored just one goal in its last three home games, including pre-trip losses to San Jose and Los Angeles. "That's three games in a row at home. It's not fun when you come home and have the best fans in the world and play like that.
"It's not acceptable. It's embarrassing."
Defenseman Steve Eminger, back in the lineup because of a knee injury to Marc Staal, opened the scoring 5:56 into the game when his slap shot from the right point deflected off a defender's stick and flew up and over the shoulder of goalie Michal Neuvirth into the top of the net.
On that play, Capitals defenseman Mike Green, who missed five games with a concussion and the flu, was driven into the boards by Stepan, left the game and did not return. No penalty was called. Boudreau said Green won't make the trip to Long Island for Saturday's game against the New York Islanders.
Christensen ended a scoring drought of his own when he slid into the low slot and converted a quick feed by Michael Sauer at 14:47 for his first goal in 14 games, dating to Dec. 15. It was his first point since returning from his knee injury nine games ago.
"I went in on the forecheck and, for whatever reason, I just stooped and spun around in front of the net, and Mike Sauer just makes a terrific pass," said Christensen, who finished with a career-best four-point night. "It was right on my tape, but I was so surprised by the pass that I almost didn't react quickly enough. Fortunately I did, and it felt really good to score again."
Christensen scored again at 4:17 of the second period, beating Neuvirth during a power play for a 3-0 lead. Stepan picked up the rebound of Michael Del Zotto's miss and poked it behind Neuvirth at 17:52 for a four-goal margin. Vaclav Prospal and Brian Boyle added third-period goals.
Lundqvist's biggest save may have come in the first minute of the game when he smothered Alex Ovechkin's shot on a 2-on-1 rush.
"Hank made some great saves, and we can't do this without him," defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. "That first save on Ovechkin really set the tone for the game, I think."
The Caps continue to be dogged by inconsistency.
"It seems like we have individuals who can't put five and 10 good games together," Boudreau said. "They can put three (together), and then they have setbacks. We've got to find some sort of consistency. It's the last 20 games of the year."
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report
|Steve Eminger (2) ASST: Derek Stepan (19)|
1 - 0 NYR
|Erik Christensen (7) ASST: Michael Sauer (8), Brian Boyle (11)|
2 - 0 NYR
|PPG - Erik Christensen (8) ASST: Ryan Callahan (16), Vinny Prospal (3)|
3 - 0 NYR
|PPG - Derek Stepan (17) ASST: Michael Del Zotto (9), Mats Zuccarello (13)|
4 - 0 NYR
|Vinny Prospal (3) ASST: Erik Christensen (9), Matt Gilroy (7)|
5 - 0 NYR
|Brian Boyle (20) ASST: Erik Christensen (10), Brandon Prust (13)|
6 - 0 NYR
|Michael Sauer Fighting (maj) against Jason Chimera|
|Jason Chimera Fighting (maj) against Michael Sauer|
|Ruslan Fedotenko Too many men/ice - bench|
|Ryan McDonagh Holding against Alex Ovechkin|
|Alexander Semin Hooking against Ruslan Fedotenko|
|Ryan Callahan Tripping against Marcus Johansson|
|Matt Bradley Interference against Vinny Prospal|
|Vinny Prospal Holding against Brooks Laich|
|Brooks Laich Hi stick - double minor against Dan Girardi|
|Brooks Laich Hi-sticking against Dan Girardi|
|Ryan McDonagh Hi-sticking against Mike Knuble|