New York, NY (Sports Network) - The Washington Capitals scored a trio of
first-period goals and rode that momentum to a 4-1 win over the New York
Nicklas Backstrom added his first goal since returning from a concussion in
the second period for the Capitals (42-32-8), who finished as the Eastern
Conference's seventh seed and will battle the defending Stanley Cup champion
Boston Bruins in the opening round of the playoffs.
With Michal Neuvirth out of the lineup, Braden Holtby started Washington's
season finale and made 35 saves. Neuvirth was hurt in the second period
Thursday when the Panthers' Marco Sturm fell on his left leg. It's uncertain
how much time Neuvirth will miss.
Henrik Lundqvist allowed four goals on just 17 shots for the top-seeded
Rangers (51-24-7), who will host the Ottawa Senators in the playoffs.
It's a lot of hockey and I'm really excited and our team will be ready to
play," said Rangers coach John Tortorella. "I'm really excited about starting
out and I know the guys are too."
Despite losing three of its last four games, New York can still secure the
Presidents' Trophy as the regular season's best team for the first time since
1993-94 if Vancouver loses to Edmonton in regulation later Saturday.
Alex Ovechkin ignited the Capitals' offensive surge, firing a quick shot off a
faceoff 32 seconds into the game. Mathieu Perreault then tipped a point shot
by Roman Hamrlik behind Lundqvist at the 2:18 mark. John Carlson scored a
power-play goal on a shot that caromed off a New York player with 1:47
remaining in the first.
"Any time you get a lead like that on Henrik Lundqvist you have to make it
count," said Holtby. "You don't see that that often."
In the middle stanza, Backstrom fired a wrist shot past Lundqvist from the
slot on an odd-man rush.
Brian Boyle put the Rangers on the board later in the frame, scoring on a
wraparound at 12:44.
New York outshot Washington 13-3 in the third period, but Holtby was up to the
task between the pipes.
Hamrlik had two assists...The Rangers were 0-for-3 on the power play...Marian
Gaborik paced New York with six shots.
The Sports Network