What better way to celebrate Hockey Day in America than with a regulation win over what many consider to be hockey’s best team?
Mats Zuccarello just before the halfway mark of the third period, while Henrik Lundqvist made 31 saves, helping the Rangers take home a 2-1 victory over the Washington Capitals in a Sunday matinee.
Taking on the team topping not just the Metropolitan Division standings, but the NHL standings overall, the Rangers (38-19-1) knew they needed to get off to a hot start, and they did so, outshooting Washington 19-10 in the first 20 minutes. Philipp Grubauer, to his credit, remained strong by stopping 18 of those shots, but it was Ryan McDonagh who broke through, scoring his third goal of the year for the 1-0 Rangers lead. Mika Zibanejad appeared to make it 2-0 on a power play, but it was called back due to offsides after the Capitals called for a review.
In the second period, Washington (39-12-7) took over, outshooting the Rangers 11-4. Lundqvist likewise held tough, but was unable to stop a power play shot from Alex Ovechkin, allowing the superstar’s 27th goal of the season to knot things up. Lundqvist’s otherwise resilient play, however, came through big in the end.
Zuccarello scored at 8:37 gone by in the third period, off a slick pass from Chris Kreider. In 17 regular season games, it was the first goal Zuccarello had scored against Washington, though he did have eight assists entering. Lundqvist held off a final rush with Grubauer pulled, and the Rangers won their second game against the Caps this season.
The win proved to be historic for both Lundqvist and Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault. With the 182nd win of his Rangers tenure, Vigneault moved past Frank Boucher for sole possession of third-place in Rangers history. Meanwhile, Lundqvist tied Chris Osgood for the 11th-most wins by a goalie in NHL history, notching the 401st of his career.
The Rangers will remain at home, next taking on the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night (7:00, MSG).