Eric Fehr's game-winning goal , 3-2 Caps
Instant analysis of the Capitals’ 3-2 win over the New York Rangers Friday night at Verizon Center:
How it happened: Capitals left wing Eric Fehr beat Rangers rookie goalie Cam Talbot with a 4-on-4 goal with 5:09 remaining in the game to give the Caps the win and break a two-game losing streak. Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi rang a shot off the post seconds before Fehr’s goal.
What it means: The Caps improved to 20-14-4 with the win to open up a six-point lead on the Rangers, who fell to 18-19-2.
How they scored: The Caps got on the board 6:55 into the game on the power play when defenseman Mike Green, who drew a tripping penalty on Rick Nash, blasted a Marty Erat pass through a screen and by Rangers rookie goalie Cam Talbot. The Rangers responded with their own power play goal 1:37 into the second period. With Nicklas Backstrom in the box for interfering with Dominic Moore, Benoit Pouliot parked himself in front of Philipp Grubauer and redirected a shot by Brad Richards for his sixth goal of the season. The Caps took a 2-1 lead with 1:05 remaining in the second period when Nicklas Backstrom threaded a shot off the left post and behind Talbot for his 10th of the season.
Save of the night: Seconds before Backstrom gave the Caps a 2-1 lead late in the second period Grubauer stopped three Rangers shots in 11 seconds, snuffing out a pair of attempts by Dominic Moore and another by Rick Nash to keep the Rangers off the board. Through two periods, Grubauer already had 31 saves on 32 shots but he surrendered a game-tying, short-handed goal by Carl Hagelin just 17 seconds into the third period. Hagelin sneaked behind the Caps’ defensemen John Carlson, took a stretch pass from Ryan McDonagh and beat Grubauer between the pads with a nice backhand move.
Close call of the night: With 9:50 remaining in the second period and the score tied at 1-1, Fehr and more than 18,000 of his closest friends thought he scored a power play goal. The goal was counted on the ice, but replays showed Fehr’s shot from the slot went off the stick of Talbot, off the left post and trickled under the pads of Talbot before he covered up.
St. Nick Nicklas Backstrom picked up a goal and an assist for his 13th multi-point night of the season. Backstrom has 17 points in his last eight games.
Statistical oddity: With his 14th assist of the season, Marty Erat now has the distinction of being the only forward in the NHL to have at least 10 assists and no goals this season.
Look ahead: The Capitals have a practice scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at Kettler. They’ll catch a flight for Buffalo, where they’ll play the Sabres at 5 p.m. on Sunday. They’ll head to Ottawa following that game and face the Senators on Monday night. The Caps are expected to have off on Tuesday and practice on New Year’s Day before facing the Hurricanes at home on Thursday.