WASHINGTON — Evgeny Kuznetsov scored at 4:20 of overtime, just beating teammate Alex Ovechkin’s stick to the puck, and the Washington Capitals defeated the New York Rangers 6-5 on Sunday in their return from their longest road trip this season.
Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist tried to block Kuznetsov’s pass back to Ovechkin in front of the net.
But the puck trickled away from Lundqvist and right in front of the net, Ovechkin first attempted to knock it in before Kuznetsov guided it across the goal line.
Nicklas Backstrom scored his 14th and 15th goals of the season and the second-place Capitals moved within two points of the Metropolitan Division-leading New York Islanders. However the Capitals have played two more games.
Tom Wilson added his 17th goal, and Nic Dowd and Michal Kempny also scored for Washington. Pheonix Copley made 26 saves as the Capitals won a day after losing in Buffalo to finish their six-game trip at 3-3-0.
Rangers defenceman Brady Skjei scored multiple goals for the first time in his career, his second tying the game with 31 seconds remaining in regulation.
Chris Kreider added his 26th, Jimmy Vesey contributed his 15th, and Vladislav Namestnikov also scored for New York.
Lundqvist stopped 29 shots for New York, which is in rebuilding mode approaching the trade deadline on Monday.
The Rangers dealt forward Mats Zuccarello to Dallas on Saturday for a pair of draft picks. The Rangers sat forward Kevin Hayes and defenceman Adam McQuaid for a second straight game Sunday.
Backstrom hadn’t scored in 12 games entering Sunday, but he gave Washington a 5-3 lead when he beat Lundqvist over his glove from in close early in the third for his second of the game.
Namestnikov redirected Neal Pionk’s effort past Copley on a Rangers power play a few minutes later.
While the Capitals killed off another New York man advantage inside the final four minutes, Skjei’s deflected shot forced overtime after the Rangers emptied their net.
NOTES: Capitals defenceman Matt Niskanen and Rangers forward Ryan Strome received fighting majors at 6:23 of the third, after Strome reacted to Niskanen’s check into the boards. … Newly acquired D Nick Jensen made his Capitals debut in a third defensive pairing alongside Brooks Orpik. … Backup goalie Copley picked up his fourth straight victory.
Rangers: Host Tampa Bay on Wednesday.
Capitals: Host Ottawa on Tuesday.
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Ian Quillen, The Associated Press