Rangers outlast Caps for seventh straight win

New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis each scored a pair of goals and the New York Rangers held off a late comeback attempt from the Washington Capitals to record a 4-2 win, their season-high seventh in a row.

Nash added an assist on St. Louis' second of the night, which came on a 5-on-3 with 3:48 remaining after Washington nearly overcame a 3-0 deficit on third- period goals by Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin.

Derek Brassard and Mats Zuccarello added two assists and Henrik Lundqvist made 30 saves for the red-hot Rangers, with 19 of those stops coming in the final period.

"The team is playing good, we are winning games, and it's a great feeling in here," St. Louis said. "We did a good job of going out there and earning it every day. We've taken nothing for granted. We take care of the opponents and we play seriously and we've been rewarded with some good plays."

Braden Holtby turned aside 23 shots in the loss, the Capitals' first in regulation since Dec. 2. Washington entered the Metropolitan Division matchup 7-0-2 in its last nine games.

The Rangers owned a seemingly comfortable 3-0 lead after Nash secured a loose puck in the neutral zone and beat a screened Holtby stick-side in transition 5:12 into the third period.

However, a Washington offense that had been mostly lifeless up until then suddenly came to life.

Just 41 seconds after Nash's tally, Kuznetsov raced up the right side and fired a shot that handcuffed Lundqvist and trickled through. The Capitals received a power play less than four minutes later, and Ovechkin converted the chance with a well-placed rocket from the left circle and hit the right post and went in with 9:02 to play.

A high-sticking penalty to Nicklas Backstrom with 5:25 left stalled Washington's momentum, however, and Jason Chimera was sent off for a violation on the resulting faceoff to give New York a two-man advantage.

Nash rifled a shot on the 5-on-3 that bounced off both the post and Holtby's glove, with St. Louis perfectly placed in front to poke in the rebound for a 4-2 lead.

"I really liked our effort, I liked our determination," said Capitals head coach Barry Trotz. "We took some penalties at the end, but when the game was on the line I thought Lundqvist was really good for them."

The Rangers struck first just 3:32 into a first period in which Washington managed just five shots. Brassard led a rush into the Capitals zone before sending a pass to Zuccarello, whose off-balance shot caromed off Nash's left ankle and trickled past Holtby.

"It's about winning, and he's helping us in a big way to win games," said Lundqvist of Nash.

A boarding penalty to Ovechkin early in the second enabled New York to extend the lead just 36 seconds into the advantage, on St. Louis' tough- angle one-timer into an open right side of the Washington net.

Game Notes

The seven-game streak is the Rangers' longest since a seven-gamer from Oct. 31-Nov. 15, 2011 ... New York improved to 10-2-1 against Metropolitan Division clubs and has earned at least a point in 11 straight divisional games ... Ovechkin's goal was the 438th of his career, breaking a tie with Pavel Bure for the third-most by a Russian-born player in NHL history... Zuccarello now has 111 career points, tying Espen Knutsen for the most by a Norwegian-born player ... Capitals defenseman John Carlson assisted on both Washington goals.