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Stepan's goal lifts Rangers past Capitals

Center scores 17 seconds into third period to break tie

by Katie Brown / Correspondent

Stepan's go-ahead goal

NYR@WSH: Stepan fires puck off defender for the lead

3/4/16: Derek Stepan rewards the Rangers' forecheck, firing the puck off a defender and into the net, giving New York a 3-2 lead in the 3rd

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WASHINGTON -- New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said he needed backup goaltender Antti Raanta to be great against the NHL's best team. Raanta rose to the occasion.

Derek Stepan scored the go-ahead goal 17 seconds into the third period and Raanta made 32 saves to lift the Rangers to a 3-2 win against the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center on Friday.




Video: NYR@WSH: Oshie scores on beautiful goal to tie it up

"Without a doubt [he was great]," Vigneault said of Raanta. "He was real good; he made some key saves at the right time and guys played real hard for him."

Raanta played the third period on Thursday in a 4-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins after Lundqvist left the game with neck spasms.

It was the Rangers' 10th consecutive victory following a regulation loss; they have 12 straight wins following a regulation loss or overtime loss. The streak began with a 3-2 victory against the Anaheim Ducks on Dec. 22. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Rangers' 10-game winning streak in games following a regulation loss is the longest within one season in franchise history. The Rangers have not lost two consecutive games (regulation and OT losses included) since losing three straight from Dec. 17-Dec. 20.

Stepan broke a 2-2 tie when his shot from the high slot deflected off the skate of Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik and went past goaltender Braden Holtby. It was Stepan's 15th goal of the season.

"He's supposed to be one of our go-to guys and he's played in important games and he knows that he's got to step it up," Vigneault said of Stepan. "The teams that win are getting good goaltending and obviously solid play from their top players and [Stepan] is one of ours."

Forwards Jesper Fast and defenseman Keith Yandle scored in the first period for the Rangers (38-21-6), who are second in the Metropolitan Division, five points ahead of the third-place New York Islanders. The teams play Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

Forwards Jay Beagle and T.J. Oshie scored in the second period, and Holtby made 20 saves for Washington (47-13-4), which plays at the Boston Bruins on Saturday.

"I thought we played the right way," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "As I said to the guys after the game, 'I'll take that game any day of the week.'"

Fast opened the scoring at 5:47 of the first period. The Capitals couldn't clear a flurry in front of the net and Fast put a rebound past Holtby for his ninth goal of the season.

The Capitals have allowed the first goal in nine of their past 11 games.

Video: NYR@WSH: Raanta makes glove save to deny Backstrom

Yandle made it 2-0 at 16:37 with a power-play goal. With defenseman Karl Alzner off for tripping Stepan, Yandle took a straightaway slap shot from just inside the blue line that went through traffic and past a screened Holtby for his fifth goal of the season.

"We're just happy that we were obviously resilient," Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. "It was a good sign for us responding under tough conditions and proving that we can come out on top.

Beagle scored at 10:58 of the second to get the Capitals within 2-1. Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein swept the puck off the goal line after Raanta stopped a shot by Capitals forward Mike Richards, and Beagle flicked the loose puck toward a sprawled-out Raanta. After a lengthy video review, officials ruled the puck had completely crossed the goal line. Rangers coach Alain Vigneault challenged, contending that Raanta had been interfered with, but the goal stood after another review.

The goal was Beagle's seventh of the season and first since Dec. 28.

Video: NYR@WSH: Fast scores from scramble in front

Oshie made it 2-2 by scoring a power-play goal with 39.4 seconds left in the period. After Stepan missed the net on a 2-on-1 rush, Oshie picked up the puck in his own zone and came down left wing on a 3-on-2 rush. He came into the left circle, took a stride toward the middle and snapped his 19th goal of the season past Raanta to tie the game.

"They didn't really have many chances but they executed on them," Trotz said. "Raanta gave them a real key save when it was 2-2 and we just couldn't get it tied up."

Lundqvist is listed as day-to-day.

Washington defenseman Nate Schmidt missed his second consecutive game with a lower-body injury.

Video: Raanta, Stepan guide Rangers to win

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