Caps, Rangers clash in D.C.

9:42 AM, Mar 10, 2013   |    comments
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(Sports Network) - A rough third period on Saturday caused Washington's three- game win streak to come to a halt, but the Capitals will try to bounce back Sunday afternoon when they host the New York Rangers at Verizon Center.

Washington recently matched its longest winning streak of the season with consecutive victories against Winnipeg, Boston and Florida. However, the Caps lost a 5-2 decision Saturday on Long Island, as the New York Islanders scored the game's final three goals over the last eight minutes of regulation.

The Capitals tied the score at 2-2 on Nicklas Backstrom's marker with 12:51 left in the third, but John Tavares scored a pair of power-play goals just 30 seconds apart later in the period to stake New York to a 4-2 lead. Frans Nielsen added a short-handed tally to account for the final score.

Washington's Mike Ribeiro was given a pair of minors at the 8:48 mark to set up Tavares' first goal. Shortly after that the Isles' star centerman then capitalized on Jeff Schultz's double-minor for high-sticking.

"We shot ourselves in the foot tonight," said Washington winger Troy Brouwer. "We were right there in the game, 2-2. We took ourselves out of the game with penalties and turnovers."

Philipp Grubauer made his first NHL start in net for the Capitals and was blitzed with 45 shots, including 19 in the third period. Backstrom and Joel Ward scored for Washington, which lost for only the second time in its last seven games.

Grubauer was sent back to Washington's AHL affiliate in Hershey on Sunday. Capitals No. 1 netminder Braden Holtby will get the start against the Rangers and Michael Neuvirth is expected to return to the backup role after battling an illness.

Capitals defenseman John Erskine left Saturday's contest with an upper-body injury and did not return. He is questionable for Sunday's game.

Washington is 7-5-0 as the host this season and will aim for a fifth straight home victory on Sunday.

The Rangers had won four straight before dropping Friday's 3-2 regulation decision against visiting Ottawa. Jakob Silfverberg's tally late in the third period was the decider in the tightly-contested affair at Madison Square Garden.

Rick Nash and Brad Richards provided the offense for the Rangers, while Henrik Lundqvist made 36 stops in defeat.

Silfverberg provided Ottawa a 3-2 edge with 4:41 remaining in regulation, corralling the rebound of an Eric Gryba shot and lifting it under the crossbar from the right side.

New York went for the extra skater with just over one minute to play to no avail.

"I thought the first half of the period we were really good and then we turned it over in the middle of the period and never really regrouped from it," said Rangers head coach John Tortorella. "I don't think we defended that well in that part of the game and they scored."

Nash extended his goal-scoring streak to five games and he has six markers during that stretch. The former Columbus Blue Jacket also has points in the last nine games he's played in, posting seven goals and seven assists during that streak.

Richards, meanwhile, returned from a two-game absence to record his first goal since Jan. 26 and third of the season. The forward was sidelined with soreness after absorbing an illegal hit from Buffalo's Patrick Kaleta last Sunday.

New York is kicking off a four-game road trip on Sunday and is 3-4-1 as the guest this season.

The Rangers have won two of three and six of their last eight against Washington, but the clubs have split the last 12 meetings overall. New York has claimed four of the past six encounters in D.C.

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