Johansson scores 2 to lead Capitals to 4-1 win over Rangers
NEW YORK (AP) — After getting off to a slow start, the NHL-best Washington Capitals picked up their play and pulled away for a big win against a division rival.
Marcus Johansson had two goals and an assist to help Washington beat the New York Rangers 4-1 on Tuesday night in Kevin Shattenkirk’s first game with the Capitals. Brett Connolly and Nicklas Backstrom also scored and Braden Holtby stopped 29 shots.
“I knew that we didn’t play particularly quick and hard,” Washington coach Barry Trotz said about the first period. “We were hustling ‘easy’ as we use the term. I just thought with our urgency on the puck (after that), our battles got better.
“We started getting a little more of a rhythm and found our game in the second and we just pounded the rock. I thought it wore them out a little bit, and we just stayed with it.”
Evgeny Kuznetzov and Matt Niskanen had two assists each. Shattenkirk, acquired from St. Louis on Monday night, had four shots on goal in 17:57 of ice time.
Trotz got his 700th career victory — including his 143rd since joining the Capitals before the 2014-15 season.
“It means I’ve been around a long time and I’ve been blessed to coach a lot of great players,” said Trotz, who had 557 wins in 15 seasons with Nashville.
Brady Skjei scored in the first period and Henrik Lundqvist finished with 34 saves as the Rangers lost for the second time in three days on home ice after going 5-0-1 in their previous six at Madison Square Garden.
“They made us go back for pucks all night,” New York captain Ryan McDonagh said. “It really wore on us. It negated a lot of our team’s speed. We had to use a lot of energy in our zone at times.”
The Capitals were in control in the second period as they scored twice and outshot the Rangers 18-9.
“They’re a good team, they can take advantage if you don’t manage the puck,” Holtby said. “We did that for the majority of the game, and that’s why we were successful.”
Johansson tied it at 1 on a rush about 7 1/2 minutes into the middle period when he knocked in a rebound.
Michael Grabner appeared to give the Rangers the lead with less than eight minutes remaining, but Trotz challenged for offside on the Rangers entering the zone. The goal was waved off after a lengthy video review.
“Our video coaches are amazing how quick they are with that,” Holtby said. “It was a big momentum change.”
Washington took the lead later when Lars Eller’s pass went off Niskanen’s stick to Connolly, who put it in for his 13th with 3:34 to go in the period.
Johansson made it 3-1 at 1:15 of the third, deflecting a shot by Kuznetsov over Lundqvist’s right shoulder for his career-high 21st.
Backstrom scored a power-play goal for his 19th with 2:03 left. John Carlson got his 200th career assist on the play.
The Rangers outshot the Capitals 11-5 over the first 16 1/2 minutes of the game before Washington had the final three shots of the first.
Skjei put the Rangers up 1-0 when he tipped a pass from Adam Clendening past Holtby for his third at 5:08 of the first period. It gave the rookie 30 points for the season, including his two goals and 13 points in the last 18 games.
Skjei also hit a post with a slap shot with about seven minutes left in the first.
NOTES: Trotz is sixth on the NHL coaching wins list. ... Washington’s Karl Alzner played in his 571st regular season game, breaking a tie with Ken Klee for ninth on the franchise list for defensemen. ... The Rangers acquired D Brendan Smith from Detroit for two draft picks and swapped minor league players with Buffalo. ... New York, without D Kevin Klein (back spasms) for the fourth straight game, announced D Dan Girardi will miss 10-14 days due to an ankle injury. D Steven Kampfer was recalled from Hartford of the AHL and rookie F Pavel Buchnevich was assigned to the Wolf Pack.
Capitals: Host New Jersey on Thursday night in the opener of a three-game homestand.
Rangers: At Boston on Thursday night.
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