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game recap

Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers hang on against Capitals

Goalie makes 31 saves, Mats Zuccarello scores tiebreaking goal in third period

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

NEW YORK -- Henrik Lundqvist made 31 saves and the New York Rangers got goals from Ryan McDonagh and Mats Zuccarello to defeat the Washington Capitals 2-1 at Madison Square Garden on Sunday.

The Rangers (38-19-1) improved to 10-3-0 in their past 13 games and have won five straight at home.

"In this league with the fine line that separates every team, you've got to find different ways [to win]. That's what we did," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "That's a real strong hockey team. They're not in first place in the League for nothing. They have four lines that come at you and a real strong 'D'. We beat a real good team."

 

WATCH: All Capitals vs. Rangers highlights 

 

The Capitals (39-12-7) have lost back-to-back games since returning from a six-day break. They also lost in a shootout at the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday. It was the first time since Dec. 27-29 that Washington lost two straight.

Washington goalie Philipp Grubauer made 28 saves, including 18 in the first period. Alex Ovechkin scored his 27th goal.

Video: WSH@NYR: Grubauer saves Lindberg's shot from doorstep

"[Grubauer] was outstanding in the first, especially," Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen said. "We're shaking off the rust a bit, but the second two periods is a step in the right direction."

Zuccarello gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead at 8:37 of the third period. He scored off a pass from Chris Kreider seconds after a faceoff win in the left circle by Mika Zibanejad, who used his forehand to push it to Kreider on his left side. Kreider dashed toward the net and found Zuccarello open between the hash marks.

Ovechkin's 12th power-play goal of the season tied the game at 1-1 with 2:36 remaining in the second period. He got a pass from Brett Connolly in the left circle and took a wrist shot that hit off of Rangers defenseman Nick Holden and got past Lundqvist.

The Rangers took a 1-0 lead on McDonagh's third goal of the season at 7:49 of the first period.

New York appeared to have a 2-0 lead on a goal from Zibanejad at 16:45 of the second period, but Capitals coach Barry Trotz used a coach's challenge claiming that McDonagh was offside prior to the zone entry that led to the goal. The ruling on the ice was overturned and 25 seconds was put back on the clock.

"I didn't even realize I must have picked up my leg there," McDonagh said. "Obviously the wrong leg. It's good we didn't get frustrated and continued to play."

Video: Situation Room: Zibanejad's goal gets overturned

Grubauer made several timely and difficult saves in the first period to keep the Capitals down by a goal. He stopped Kevin Hayes on a 2-on-0 with his right pad at 6:49, Kreider on a breakaway at 14:46 and Oscar Lindberg with his left pad, falling forward at 19:02.

"We got them on a back-to-back, we are at home, I think we did what we were supposed to do," Rangers defenseman Marc Staal said. "We expected to come in here and give it a good effort and win the game. We were able to grind one out against a really good team."

 

Goal of the game

McDonagh carried the puck into the zone, put a shot on Grubauer, followed it to get the rebound, stick handled the puck in between Nicklas Backstrom's feet and beat Grubauer with a shot high to the glove side.

Video: WSH@NYR: McDonagh snipes top-shelf goal in the 1st

 

Save of the game

Lundqvist's glove save on John Carlson's slap shot at 6:48 of the third period kept the game tied at 1-1. Zuccarello scored 1:49 later.

Video: WSH@NYR: Lundqvist snags Carlson's slap shot

 

Highlight of the game

As impressive as the faceoff win by Zibanejad and the intelligent play by Kreider to take the puck to the net, drawing defensemen Brooks Orpik and Nate Schmidt to him, was the job by Zuccarello to play the puck with both of his skates in order to set up a forehanded shot to beat Grubauer through his five-hole for the winning goal.

Video: WSH@NYR: Zuccarello nets Kreider's feed for 2-1 lead

 

Unsung performance of the game

Rangers center Oscar Lindberg played a team-low 9:17, but he went 5-0 in faceoffs, had three shots on goal, six shot attempts and five hits, centering a fourth line that never looked overmatched or overwhelmed.

 

They said it

"We were feeling it, talking about it in practice [Saturday], big NBC game, afternoon game against an opponent we've had a lot of history with. We haven't seen them a lot this year but we knew it was going to be a real challenge the way they've been putting up goals. I think the biggest thing for us that's great to see is only one (goal) against. Huge for Henrik. Huge that we found a way." -- Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh

Video: WSH@NYR: Lundqvist deflects Ovechkin's backhander

 

Need to know

Lundqvist tied Chris Osgood for 11th place on the NHL's all-time wins list (401). He needs two wins to tie Grant Fuhr for 10th place.

 

What's next

Capitals: At the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports, NHL.TV).

Rangers: Host the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; MSG, SNE, RDS, NHL.TV).

 

Video: Lundqvist, Zucc lead Rangers to 2-1 win vs. Caps

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