No Lundqvist, no problem: Raanta and the Rangers beat the Capitals


WASHINGTON (AP) Antti Raanta made 32 saves while subbing for the injured Henrik Lundqvist and Derek Stepan scored as the New York Rangers bounced back from a loss in Pittsburgh to beat the Washington Capitals 3-2 Friday night.

Raanta was pressed into starting duty after Lundqvist was ruled out because of neck spasms. He was stellar against the NHL’s top team, helping the Rangers extend their streak of not losing consecutive games that dates to mid-December.

Jesper Fast and Keith Yandle also scored for the Rangers against Braden Holtby, who made 20 saves. Jay Beagle and T.J. Oshie had the Capitals’ goals in the first game between the teams since New York acquired Eric Staal at the trade deadline.

The Capitals continued their run of poor starts, giving up the first goal for the ninth time in their last 11 games. The puck pinballed to the slot at 5:47, and Fast snapped a quick shot past Holtby.

Before the first period was over, the Rangers had a 2-0 lead. During a late power play, two shots rang off the posts behind Holtby before Yandle scored with a rocket from the point at 16:37.

Eleven minutes into the second period, the fourth line of Daniel Winnik, Mike Richards and Beagle continued to control the puck in the offensive zone and scored on a scramble in front. It took a lengthy video review for the situation room in Toronto to see the puck was over the line, and Beagle’s seventh goal held up after the coach’s challenge.

Raanta made one of his most impressive saves on Nicklas Backstrom on a Capitals power play late in the second, but Oshie scored off the rush with 38.9 seconds left in the period.

Before the Capitals could get their footing out of the intermission, a turnover by Dmitry Orlov got the puck to Stepan, whose shot banked off Washington defenseman Brooks Orpik‘s skate and in to make it 3-2 Rangers 17 seconds into the third.

NOTES: Magnus Hellberg served as Raanta’s backup with Lundqvist out. … Defenseman Marc Staal returned to the Rangers lineup after missing their game Thursday at Pittsburgh with the flu. … Capitals defenseman Nate Schmidt, who missed the past two games with a lower-body injury, could be back for their game at Boston on Saturday.