Martin Biron made the most of a rare start and Brian Boyle took a step toward getting out of his coach's doghouse as the New York Rangers got back on the right track with a 4-1 win Sunday afternoon over the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center.
Biron stopped 28 shots and Boyle scored the first of two New York goals in a 37-second span of the middle period as the Rangers avenged a home loss Friday to Ottawa and won for the fifth time in six games.
Rookie defenseman Steve Oleksy scored his first National Hockey League goal for the Capitals, who dropped their second game in as many days after a 5-2 loss to the Islanders on Saturday.
Boyle put New York in front midway through the second on a play in which Alex Ovechkin committed two separate penalties against Ryan Callahan (tripping) and Ryan McDonagh (holding). Boyle, who was scratched from Friday's loss and subsequently challenged to play better by Rangers coach John Tortorella, ended the sequence by beating Braden Holtby for his first goal of the season at 10:53.
"I've got to be consistent now," said Boyle, who averaged 16 goals over the past two seasons. "We've got a good team here. We've got a lot of guys that can play and we've got some depth. But I want to be part of it and I think, if I am going the way I should, we are a better team. That's my focus and that's what I am going to do."
"He's made a difference," Tortorella told NBC's Pierre McGuire during a bench interview at the next TV time-out. "The other games, you simply couldn't find him. So good for him."
Since Ovechkin was whistled for two infractions on the same play, the Rangers still went on the power play even after Boyle's goal. Callahan put them up 3-1 by redirecting a shot the red-hot Rick Nash took from the right circle. Nash's five-game goal streak ended, but he collected a pair of assists and now has 11 points in six games since returning from injury.
Holtby was replaced following Callahan's goal by Michal Neuvirth, who made his first appearance since Feb. 7.
Biron made just his fourth start of the season as Henrik Lundqvist got the day off. He came up big at the end of the second, making several key saves after Boyle took a holding penalty and Darroll Powe was later called for tripping, giving the Capitals a 5-on-3 for 31 seconds.
"He was big on the 5-on-3. Especially there, key part of the game, made some big saves," Tortorella said. "He really does settle a team down. He helps us get out of our end zone because he moves the puck so well. So, we get him in a game, he wins us the game, plus it gives Hank a day off, plus a full day off tomorrow. Really happy how it played out here."
Brad Richards capped the scoring, beating Neuvirth with 1:12 left in the third.
The Capitals blitzed the Rangers from the game's opening faceoff, as they kept the puck in the New York zone for about half a minute and put pressure on Biron.
They broke through for the opening goal at 2:16 when Oleksy scored in his fourth career game. Jason Chimera worked the puck back to the right point and Oleksy's shot found its way over Biron's right shoulder.
"I don't score a lot of goals, so every one is nice," said Oleksy, who had three assists in his first three games. "To get that one out of the way helps a lot, but at the end of the day we were looking for two points and we were unable to get that."
Derek Stepan evened the score at the 11:31 mark. Skating down the left wing, Stepan cruised behind the net and released a shot from behind the goal line that banked off Holtby's skate and into the net. That got the Rangers going, and they finished the period outshooting the Capitals, 12-8.
"I think after those first five minutes or so, we really got going, which gave me a chance to settle in," Biron said.
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