WASHINGTON — Henrik Lundqvist earned his 46th NHL shutout, Brad Richards assisted on two New York goals less than two minutes apart in the second period, and the Rangers beat familiar postseason foe Washington 2-0 on Wednesday night to end a three-game losing streak.
Richards helped set up goals by Ryan Callahan and John Moore, and Lundqvist made the limited offense hold up in a 22-save performance against the Capitals. It was his first shutout during what has been a poor start to the season. By game’s end, some Rangers fans were chanting his name.
The Rangers won for only the second time in six games under first-year coach Alain Vigneault. Their season-opening road swing still has three more stops.
Unable to generate much offense, even with their formidable power play, three-time NHL MVP Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals fell to 2-5.
These teams have met in four of the past five postseasons, splitting those series. The Rangers eliminated the Capitals in the first round in May, with Lundqvist getting shutouts in Games 6 and 7.
He was just as good Wednesday, earning chants of “Hen-reek!” late in the third period. His teammates got to Capitals goalie Braden Holtby with a couple of quick scores.
New York dominated the second period, outshooting Washington 21-6.
Moore scored his first goal of the season 12:05 into that period during 4-on-4 play, after Ovechkin was sent to the penalty box for slashing Derek Stepan during a short-handed breakaway. Callahan then knocked in his third of the season <0x2014> and third in two games <0x2014> by cutting across the crease to beat Ovechkin and defenseman John Carlson to Richards’ centering pass.
The Capitals entered the night having been outscored 9-4 in the first period this season. While they again were outplayed at times, and outshot 11-8, over the first 20 minutes, they didn’t fall behind right away.
New York took seven of the game’s first nine shots, but Washington had some strong chances to score, including during 55 seconds of a 5-on-3 power play in the first period after hooking calls on Anton Stralman and then Taylor Pyatt.
One chance went awry when Ovechkin snapped his stick in two while trying to get off a shot. Another was wasted when some tic-tac-toe passing set up Joel Ward for a close-range, backdoor try, but he pushed the puck against the side of the net.
The shot differential was even more pronounced at the start of the second period, with New York taking nine of the first 10. The best opportunity among those came when Callahan sent a backhander to Richards out front, but the center’s shot clanged off the post.