Rangers Fall to Capitals for First Home Loss in Eight Games

Brett Connolly was calling for the puck as he skated up the left side. He quickly put the Washington Capitals ahead when he got a cross-ice pass from John Carlson and helped the Capitals keep their winning streak going.

Connolly scored the tiebreaking goal on a one-timer from the left circle with 6 minutes 24 second left in the third period on Saturday, and the Capitals beat the host Rangers, 5-3, for their season-high fifth straight win.

“A little bit of open ice,” Connolly said of his fourth goal of the season. He added, “I got a good piece of it and it went right where I wanted it.”

Alex Ovechkin, Nic Dowd, Jakub Vrana and Tom Wilson also scored for the defending Stanley Cup champion Capitals, and Carlson had three assists. Pheonix Copley, starting in goal in place of Braden Holtby, stopped 27 shots.

“Good team win, we’re playing really well as of late,” Connolly said. “We’re starting to get that feeling again through our room, like we had toward the end of last year.”

The Capitals, who have rallied after giving up the first goal in four of their wins during their streak, trailed by 1-0 after one period and by two midway through the second before scoring three straight to take the lead heading to the third.

“We’re always believing we’re in games,” Connolly said. “We’re finding ways to win.”

Ryan Strome tied the score, 3-3. on a wraparound at 5:30 of the final period — his first goal with the Rangers since being acquired from Edmonton on Nov. 16.

Connolly, who also had an assist, then gave Washington the lead back, and Wilson added an empty-netter with 1:08 left for his fourth. Wilson has nine points in seven games since returning from a season-opening suspension that sidelined him for 16 games.

Jimmy Vesey and Brady Skjei also scored for the Rangers, who lost their second straight and saw their seven-game home winning streak end. Kevin Hayes had two assists, and Alexandar Georgiev finished with 23 saves.

Trailing, 1-0,, after Vesey scored, the Capitals came out with increased intensity in the second period and scored three goals, outshooting the Rangers by 15-9.

“You can’t take a period off against anyone, let alone the defending Stanley Cup champions,” Rangers Coach David Quinn said. “If you’re going to have a chance to beat them, you’re going to have to stay on them for 60 minutes. You can have lapses where you don’t play well, but they can’t be 20-minute lapses.”

Just 31 seconds after Skjei made it 2-0, Dowd tipped in Carlson’s shot midway through the second.

Vrana then tied it with his sixth as he beat Georgiev with a backhander with 3:33 left in the period.

Ovechkin put the Capitals ahead, tipping Carlson’s pass from the right side with 30 seconds left. It was Ovechkin’s 17th goal, tying him for the league lead with Boston’s David Pastrnak and Buffalo’s Jeff Skinner going into Saturday night’s game.

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