Ryan McDonagh scored his first goal in nearly 2 1/2 months to snap a tie midway through the second period and All-Star Henrik Lundqvist turned aside 24 shots as the New York Rangers skated to a 3-2 home triumph over the Washington Capitals on Sunday afternoon.
Captain Ryan Callahan collected his fifth goal in three contests and Brandon Prust netted his first tally since Oct. 20 for Eastern Conference-leading New York, which improved to 7-1-1 in its last nine games. The last time the Rangers led the league at this point of the season was the 1993-94 campaign. They went onto win both the Presidents' Trophy and the Stanley Cup during that season.
With the game tied at 1-1, McDonagh avoided a defender in the left faceoff circle before skating closer to the slot and wiring a shot which handcuffed Michal Neuvirth. The goal was the fifth of the season and first since Dec. 1 for McDonagh, who had to be helped from the ice with a left leg injury. He returned shortly thereafter.
With his team shorthanded, Prust provided insurance 6:26 into the third period as he deposited Brandon Dubinsky's centering feed past Neuvirth for his third goal of the season.
Defenseman John Carlson trimmed the deficit to one with 2:28 remaining in the third period, but Lundqvist closed the door to record his fourth straight victory over the Capitals.
After recording his second career hat trick on Saturday, Callahan opened the scoring 11:01 into the first period. Standing in the high slot, defenseman Anton Stralman alertly wired a feed to the doorstep for Callahan, who deftly backhanded the puck while falling for his 22nd goal of the season. The tally is just one shy of his career high.
Alexander Semin recorded his third goal and sixth point in five contests for Washington, which was unable to move past the idle Toronto Maple Leafs for eighth place in the Eastern Conference. The Capitals trail the Maple Leafs by one point in the standings.