WASHINGTON — Alex Ovechkin scored twice in the final seven minutes to continue his goal streak and rally the Washington Capitals to a 2-1 victory against the New York Rangers on Friday night for their seventh win in a row.
Ovechkin tied it on a rebound with 6:42 left and put the Capitals ahead on a nearly identical play with 3:33 remaining. He has scored in five consecutive games and has seven goals in the past seven.
Washington's longtime captain now leads the team with 14 goals. After moving into sole possession of sixth place on the NHL career goals list earlier in the week, Ovechkin's goals against the Rangers were Nos. 719 and 720, moving him closer to Marcel Dionne in fifth.
Ovechkin's late-game heroics kept the Capitals winning streak alive after a lacklustre first 50 minutes. They had only 12 shots on net before the play that led to his tying goal, and New York was cruising toward a second consecutive shutout victory.
Instead, Vitek Vanecek could celebrate his 13th victory of the season after stopping 32 shots. New York's only goal came on the power play when Artemi Panarin scored his eighth of the season.
Panarin has three goals and four assists for a four-game point streak since returning from a two-week leave of absence. Rangers goaltender Alexandar Georgiev allowed just those two goals to Ovechkin on 18 shots in the loss.
WILSON ALMOST BACK
Capitals winger Tom Wilson is now done serving his seven-game suspension for boarding Boston defenceman Brandon Carlo on March 5. It was his fifth NHL suspension but first since fall of 2018.
“I have to continue to adjust, and I think the game is always adapting year to year,” Wilson said. “At the end of the day, it can’t happen. I can’t be missing seven games. I can’t be missing one game. I’ve got to be in the lineup.”
Wilson was one of Washington's best players all around this season before getting suspended, with seven goals and 10 assists for 17 points in 21 games. His teammates winning all seven games without him took some of the sting out of his absence, but Wilson is itching to get back into the action.
“I’s crunch time now,” Wilson said. “There’s 20-something games left. This is meaningful hockey, this is when we ramp everything up and I just want to hit the ground running and try and jump right back in where we left off.”
The Rangers reported that goaltender Igor Shesterkin skated Friday morning and remains day to day with a strained groin. Keith Kinkaid backed up Georgiev while Shesterkin missed his eighth consecutive game since getting injured March 4.
RANGERS COACHES OUT
New York was without coach David Quinn and his entire staff for a second consecutive game since they entered the league's COVID protocol. They didn't travel to Washington for this two game series.
Kris Knoblauch, who coaches the the team's American Hockey League affiliate in Hartford, again served as acting coach with Wolfpack assistant Gord Murphy and Rangers associate general manager Chris Drury behind the bench.
These teams face off again Saturday night in Washington.
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Stephen Whyno, The Associated Press