Rangers rally, but lose to Capitals in shootout

Alex Ovechkin scored on Henrik Lundqvist here, in the shootout, as well as in regulation. Credit: Getty Images
Alex Ovechkin scored on Henrik Lundqvist here, in the shootout, as well as in regulation.
Credit: Getty Images

The Rangers earned one point, but they left another on the table.

New York dropped a 3-2 decision to the Capitals in the shootout Sunday night at the Garden.

“I’m thinking about points. We get a point,” head coach John Tortorella said. “Would we like to have two? Yes. But we didn’t get it.”

Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin scored for the Capitals during both the game and skills competition. Ovechkin finished with a goal and an assist. Braden Holtby made 30 saves.

Ovechkin slipped the puck between the post and Lundqvist’s pad for the first shootout goal. Backstrom ripped a laser that beat Lundqvist glove side for the game-winner.

“I only stopped two-of-four in the shootout,” said Henrik Lundqvist, who made 22 saves in the first 65 minutes. “I have to be better. You face really good players. I think the last one was a really good shot but Ovechkin, [I] felt like I had him but I didn’t get the stick down.”

Despite having lost consecutive games, the Rangers moved to eighth in the East. Arron Asham and Derek Stepan scored for the Rangers. Stepan scored the Rangers’ lone goal in the shootout.

“I’m not even thinking about playoffs,” Tortorella said.

One of the themes that has marked this Rangers campaign has been slow starts. Last night was no different as Washington jumped out to a 2-0 lead on the power of goals from Backstrom and Ovechkin in a span of 2:09.

“After they got the first one, we were stunned a little bit. We just kind of sat back and let them play,” Dan Girardi said. “Obviously we want two points but we need to get any point we can at this stage. But there are a lot of good things we can take from today.”

Following Ovechkin’s goal, the Garden denizens booed the Blueshirts viciously. But by the end of the period, the 17,200 in attendance were delirious as the teams went into intermission tied at 2-2.

Asham began the comeback with an off-the-rush goal to cut the deficit in half 14:12 into the period. The goal was Asham’s second of the season. Stepan tied the game with 1:57 left on a shot that pinballed off Holtby’s stick.

“I thought after the first 10 minutes we responded well — getting two goals and tying it after the first,” Ryan Callahan said. “We had chances in the second and third. We just couldn’t find the next one and eventually they did in the shootout.”

The game remained tied despite the Rangers having a 25-10 advantage in shots spanning the final two regulation periods and overtime.

“We just closed out defensively,” Girardi said. “We tried to keep everything to the outside, blocking shots like we always do, getting through the neutral zone and not turning any pucks over. When we are playing down [in] their end, it limits their shots.”

The second period was not nearly as wild as the first because the goaltenders stepped to the forefront. Lundqvist turned away all four Capital shots he faced, while Holtby stopped the nine shots he faced.

While the majority of shots the goaltenders saw were harmless, each team had a chance to break the deadlock in the second period. Marian Gaborik missed on a breakaway backhander with 8:19 left in the second, while Lundqvist stopped consecutive shots off the sticks of Mike Ribeiro and Karl Alzner with a minute left in the period.

Follow Rangers beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.



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