NEW YORK — Ryan Strome scored twice to help the New York Rangers beat Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals 4-2 on Thursday night.
Ovechkin scored career goal No. 709 to surpass Mike Gartner for sole possession of seventh place on the NHL list. But New York stretched its point streak to four games, which includes three victories.
Ovechkin is eight goals away from Phil Esposito, who is sixth in league history with 717 goals.
Anthony Bitetto also scored for the Rangers and Artemi Panarin had two assists. Igor Shesterkin stopped 31 shots while recording his third straight win in as many starts.
Washington dropped its second straight game. Carl Hagelin also scored for the Capitals, and Vitek Vanecek had 27 saves.
Strome scored the deciding goal 7:55 into the third period, finishing an odd-man rush with Panarin. Kaapo Kakko also assisted on the play in his first game back after a brief stint on the NHL’s COVID-19 list.
Ovechkin got the Capitals within one with his third goal of the season at 11:01. The Capitals captain collected the puck shortly after an offensive zone faceoff and wired a wrist shot past Shesterkin.
Bitetto gave the Rangers a 2-0 lead 9:15 into the second. The Long Island-born defenceman gracefully skated around the net before darting toward the slot and sliding the puck past Vanecek.
Bitetto was called up from the taxi squad earlier this week after the organization waived defenceman Tony DeAngelo following a postgame altercation between teammates.
Hagelin cut the Rangers lead in half at 18:57 of the second. Garnet Hathaway fired a sharp-angled shot that deflected off Hagelin’s glove and past Shesterkin. The play was reviewed but the call on the ice stood.
Strome opened the scoring 1:41 into the first. Adam Fox sent the puck toward the net from the blue line and Strome deflected it past Vanecek. Strome extended his point streak to four games.
Pavel Buchnevich added an empty-net goal in the final minute.
Defenceman Libor Hajek played in his first game of the season. The Rangers acquired the Czech defenceman in February 2018 as part of a larger deal that sent Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
COMING OF AGE
Vanecek was named the NHL’s Rookie of the Month for January after posting a 5-0-2 record with a 2.78 goals-against average and .918 save percentage in seven appearances. Vanecek became the eighth player in franchise history to earn the honour .
The NHL introduced several new items to mitigate the risk of exposure and contraction of COVID-19. The league and NHLPA agreed to remove shielding behind the bench and limit the amount of time players and coaches spend in the arena prior to a game.
The Rangers were slated to play Saturday afternoon at New Jersey, but it was postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak for the Devils. New York will have the weekend off before returning to action Monday night.
Rangers: Host Islanders on Monday evening
Capitals: Host Flyers on Sunday afternoon.
The Associated Press