Washington, DC (SportsNetwork.com) - Cam Talbot finished with 28 saves and Martin St. Louis registered a key late insurance goal as the New York Rangers continued their recent stretch of sterling play, downing Washington by a 3-1 count at Verizon Center.
Carl Hagelin and J.T. Miller also tallied with Kevin Hayes adding a pair of assists for the Rangers, who vaulted over the idle Islanders to assume first place in the Metropolitan Division.
New York's 12-1-2 stretch also has it contending for the top spot in the Eastern Conference and the entire NHL.
Alex Ovechkin's 45th goal of the season proved to be the sole offense for the Capitals, who had won three of four coming in.
Braden Holtby took the loss despite also stopping 28 shots.
Chris Kreider helped seal the victory by intercepting a pass inside his own zone, breaking up ice and then dishing across for a tap-in by St. Louis with 2:27 to play.
Holtby was summoned to the bench shortly thereafter, and Washington scrambled a bit, then encountered some luck when Hagelin hit the post facing an empty net, before organizing possession in the Rangers' zone.
After Kevin Klein blocked an Ovechkin try, Talbot stopped Eric Fehr from point-blank range inside of 40 seconds on the clock.
Hagelin poked in a Hayes rebound from the right side of the crease to open the scoring for the Blueshirts at 8:20 of the first period.
Ovechkin tied it at 11:43 on a power play with his trademark blistering shot from the left wing muted by a the stick of New York's Jesper Fast.
A top-shelf drive from Miller off a Hayes pass gave the Rangers a 2-1 edge at 16:34.
Talbot had a quiet second period, needing to halt just four pucks. He had one upheld by replay -- a sweeping glove stop along the goal line of a Nicklas Backstrom drive during a 5-on-3 power play early in the stanza.
With his appearance for the Rangers, Mats Zuccarello became the all-time leader among Norwegian-born players in NHL games played (208) ... New York improved to 32-5-3 when scoring first this year ... The Rangers have allowed one goal or fewer in regulation in at least five straight games for the first time since Mar. 16-25, 2007.