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Hockey  

Trocheck, Zibanejad lead Rangers to 4-3 win over Capitals, lead series 2-0

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Rangers withstood the strong bounceback effort they anticipated from the Washington Capitals and held on to take a 2-0 lead in their first-round playoff series. 

Vincent Trocheck and Mika Zibanejad each had a goal and an assist and the Presidents' Trophy-winning Rangers beat the scrappy Capitals 4-3 Tuesday night.

“I expected that tonight, the way it played out, physical and some attitude and directness inside of the game,” New York coach Peter Laviolette said. “I thought our guys responded well, it was a hard-fought game.”

Jack Roslovic and K'Andre Miller also scored for the Rangers, and Erik Gustafsson and Alexis Lafreniere each had two assists. Igor Shesterkin stopped 22 shots.

New York has had goals from eight players in the first two games of this series.

“It's been there all year,” Zibanejad said. “Obviously when you come to these type of games we talk about needing everyone and everyone has been stepping up, playing their roles and contributing.”

New York, seeking its first Stanley Cup championship in 30 years, has won four straight and 12 of its last 15 games. 

Tom Wilson had a goal and an assist, and Connor McMichael and Dylan Strome also scored for the Capitals. Charlie Lindgren finished with 23 saves.

“Much better than the first game, we did a ton of really, really good things,” said Washington coach Spencer Carbery. “We make four or five (mistakes), probably even a few more, that you just can't make this time of year. … The margin for error is so small, so those mistakes become game-changers for us.”

Game 3 of the best-of-seven series is Friday at Washington.

Washington star left wing Alex Ovechkin had just one shot on goal after the 38-year-old was held without one in Game 1.

“He looks a little bit off, he's struggling,” Carbery said. “He's getting a tough matchup. … We're going back home. We'll get an opportunity to be able to control the matchup for him and he could flip it in one game and now all of a sudden be a difference-maker and help us win a game or be a driver in winning a game on home ice.”

With New York leading 4-2, there was some pushing and shoving 6 1/2 minutes into the third period after the Rangers' Artemi Panarin knocked T.J. Oshie off the puck with a hard hit. The play was reviewed for a major penalty, but none was called. McMichael was instead given a minor for roughing.

Oshie left the ice for the dressing room, but returned with just over five minutes remaining in the game.

Wilson pulled the Capitals within one with their second power-play goal of the night as he deflected a shot in the air by Hendrix Lapierre past Shesterkin with 8:15 remaining.

“We have to use our chances on the power play,” Ovechkin said. "We scored two. We have to continue to play like that.” 

The Capitals pulled Lindgren for an extra skater with 2:48 to go and had several chances, but couldn't get the equalizer.

“It wasn’t over until the horn," Lindgren said. “We did a good job of pushing. We got that big third goal. We didn’t give up.”

The Capitals trailed 2-1 after 20 minutes and tied the score with a power-play goal early in the second period. Strome got a pass in front from Wilson and deflected it past Shesterkin at 4:14 of the second for his first career post-season goal. It was the Capitals' first goal with the man advantage in 17 chances against the Rangers this year. 

With a Rangers power play winding down, Roslovic got a pass from Gustafsson and fired a shot from a sharp angle in the right circle over Lindgren's blocker and left shoulder for a 3-2 lead with 7:34 remaining in the middle period.

“It was huge,” Laviolette said. “Gus dished it over to Roslovic, got it, and a hard angle and really put it in the only place that it could go.”

New York pushed the lead to 4-2 with a short-handed goal with 3:08 left in the second. After a turnover by the Capitals, Zibanejad — working a give-and-go with Kreider on a rush — saw Miller trailing down the middle and sent a pass back to the defenceman, who fired it past Lindgren.

The Capitals came into the game focused on getting more shots on goal. They did that at the start, getting five in the first 2 1/2 minutes. However, they managed just two more the rest of the first period.

McMichael got the Capitals on the scoreboard at 5:09. Rangers defenceman Ryan Lindgren knocked the puck away from T.J. Oshie, but it went right to McMichael who quickly put it past Shesterkin from the left side. 

Trocheck tied it for the Rangers at 7:56 on their third shot on goal. After a draw in the right circle, Trocheck deflected a feed from Gustafsson.

With the Rangers on their second power play, Zibanejad fired a shot that went off the glove of Capitals defenceman Alexander Alexeyev and over Lindgren's glove with 5:32 remaining in the first. It was Zibanejad's 17th goal in 60 career playoff games.

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AP NHL playoffs: https://apnews.com/hub/stanley-cup and https://www.ap) news.com/hub/NHL



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