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Vesey, Rangers Top Capitals in Washington

Rookie Pots A Pair in the Win

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia /

WASHINGTON -- Jimmy Vesey has said he's feeling more comfortable with each passing game. But for the first time Saturday, he was the difference-maker on the ice for the Rangers scoring two goals in the second period to help the Rangers defeat the Washington Capitals, 4-2, at Verizon Center.

Vesey's pair came three minutes apart midway through the middle frame. 

Video: NYR@WSH: Vesey buries a feed from Nash for PPG

Vesey's first was a slam dunk off a pass from Rick Nash with the Rangers on the power play. Stepan fed Nash down low, who slid the puck through the slot to Vesey who had an open cage. It was his second of the season.

The second of the night was more of the highlight reel variety. Mats Zuccarello fed a breaking Vesey with a pass at the faceoff circle and the 23-year-old drove to the net and beat Holtby on the backhand to put the Rangers up 3-2.

Video: NYR@WSH: Vesey goes five-hole for second of the game

"I think i've been getting more and more comfortable and playing better and better. It was a big team win tonight and I think I've just been gaining more and more confidence every game."

Washington jumped out to a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes on goals by Lars Eller and Alex Ovechkin in the first period

But the Rangers escaped the opening 20 down just two and began to sway the tide early in the second period when Brandon Pirri fired a wrist shot through Braden Holtby to make it 2-1.

Video: NYR@WSH: Pirri beats Holtby with quick wrist shot

The Rangers successfully killed off a double minor when Mika Zibanejad was called for high sticking, which turned out to be a turning point.

"Special teams are huge," said Derek Stepan, who had an assist on Vesey's first goal. "Each night you've got to go out and win your special teams, whether it be on the penalty kill or the power play. That gives you your best chance to win the game."

Then it was Vesey who scored his pair three minutes apart to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 advantage.

With the pair, Vesey is the third rookie this season to have a multi-goal game, joining Toronto's Auston Mathews and Winnipeg's Patrik Laine.

"I'm trying to get him to be as comfortable as he can because as he gets more comfortable, he seems to be more confident with the puck," Stepan said. "Tonight, some of the plays he made tonight were at a really high level. You can see his game as he gets more comfortable and as he gets used to his linemates and talking a little bit - gotta get him to open up a little bit - but as he's getting more comfortable and more confident he's going to be a big part of our group."

Nash iced the game with an empty net goal with 5.6 seconds remaining.

After the tough start, Henrik Lundqvist was superb over the final 40 minutes, including his best stop when he denied Ovechkin on the doorstep to preserve the one-goal lead late in the second. He finished with 26 saves.

"I loved the way we win this game. I loved the way we battled back," Lundqvist said. "The way we believe in ourselves and in our system. We played a really strong game. Being down two after the first, it was tough but we all felt we could do it."

The Rangers were without defenseman Dan Girardi, who skated this morning but was unable to play. Forward Pavel Buchnevich remained out of the lineup with back spasms.

The Blueshirts return home Sunday night to host the Arizona Coyotes.

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