NEW YORK (AP) — After getting off to a slow start, the NHL-best Washington Capitals picked up their play and pulled away for a big win against a division rival.
Marcus Johansson had two goals and an assist to help Washington beat the New York Rangers 4-1 on Tuesday night in Kevin Shattenkirk’s first game with the Capitals. Brett Connolly and Nicklas Backstrom also scored and Braden Holtby stopped 29 shots.
“I knew that we didn’t play particularly quick and hard,” Washington coach Barry Trotz said about the first period. “We were hustling ‘easy’ as we use the term. I just thought with our urgency on the puck (after that), our battles got better.
“We started getting a little more of a rhythm and found our game in the second and we just pounded the rock. I thought it wore them out a little bit, and we just stayed with it.”
Evgeny Kuznetzov and Matt Niskanen had two assists each. Shattenkirk, acquired from St. Louis on Monday night, had four shots on goal in 17:57 of ice time.
Trotz got his 700th career victory — including his 143rd since joining the Capitals before the 2014-15 season.
“It means I’ve been around a long time and I’ve been blessed to coach a lot of great players,” said Trotz, who had 557 wins in 15 seasons with Nashville.
Brady Skjei scored in the first period and Henrik Lundqvist finished with 34 saves as the Rangers lost for the second time in three days on home ice after going 5-0-1 in their previous six at Madison Square Garden.
“They made us go back for pucks all night,” New York captain Ryan McDonagh said. “It really wore on us. It negated a lot of our team’s speed. We had to use a lot of energy in our zone at times.”
NOTES: Trotz is sixth on the NHL coaching wins list. … Washington’s Karl Alzner played in his 571st regular season game, breaking a tie with Ken Klee for ninth on the franchise list for defensemen. … The Rangers acquired D Brendan Smith from Detroit for two draft picks and swapped minor league players with Buffalo. … New York, without D Kevin Klein (back spasms) for the fourth straight game, announced D Dan Girardi will miss 10-14 days due to an ankle injury. D Steven Kampfer was recalled from Hartford of the AHL and rookie F Pavel Buchnevich was assigned to the Wolf Pack.
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