The Washington Capitals have been trying to put together consistent stretches of success all season. Yet, the only thing that has been consistent about the Caps' season is their inconsistency.
That did not change Sunday as the New York Rangers defeated the Caps 3-2, handing Washington its second straight loss and fifth in its last seven games.
Ryan Callahan, Ryan McDonagh and Brandon Prust scored for New York, while Alexander Semin and John Carlson scored for Washington. Semin's goal tied the game at 1-1 in the second period, but McDonagh restored the lead shortly after. With a power play chance in the third period that could have tied the game, the Caps allowed Prust to score a shorthanded goal.
Carlson cut the Rangers' lead to 3-2 with just over two minutes left, but the Caps could not convert with Michal Neuvirth (25 saves) pulled for an extra attacker.
The Caps have no time to reflect on the loss as they head back to Verizon Center Monday to face the San Jose Sharks.
Semin's 15th goal of the season finished off an end-to-end breakout. John Carlson started it with a breakout pass to Jason Chimera, who used his outside speed to carry the puck into the offensive zone. Chimera then sent a drop pass to a waiting Semin, who then fired a slap shot that eluded Lundqvist at 6:31. Semin has 23 points in his last 24 games.
Just under seven minutes later, McDonagh put New York back into the lead with his fifth goal of the season and first since December 1. McDonagh's toe drag caught a sliding Troy Brouwer out of position, giving McDonagh enough room to fire a wrist shot that squeaked past Michal Neuvirth. McDonagh, however, did not have time to celebrate as he injured his leg on the play and had to be helped off the ice.
Callahan's fifth goal in his last two-plus games has given the New York Rangers a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes.
Coming off his second career hat trick Saturday, Callahan scored his fourth goal in his last four periods of play at 11:01. Anton Starlman sent a hard pass from the point to Callahan, who was positioned in front of the crease. Callahan was then able to corral the puck with his skate before sending a backhand past Michal Neuvirth for his 22nd goal of the season. Callahan is one goal away from tying a career-high and he almost got it, but he hit the post late in the period.
Interestingly enough, Neuvirth was not expected to start Sunday. Tomas Vokoun led Washington onto the ice, but did not play.
The Caps have had their chances as well, putting seven shots on Henrik Lundqvist. John Erskine had the best chance early in the period when his deflected shot beat Lundqvist, but hit the outside of the post.
The Washington Capitals (28-21-5), coming off a 1-1-1 homestand, head to the Big Apple on Sunday for a matinee matchup with the New York Rangers (34-13-5).
The Capitals have had their road woes this year, amassing just a 9-14-3 mark away from home. Washington plays five of its next six games on the road.
The Rangers currently sit atop the Easter Conference standings, and are 17-6-2 on home ice this season.
Here is what you need to know for today's game:
Game Date/Time: Sunday, February 12, 12:30 P.M. ET
Location: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Radio: 1500AM, 820AM, XM and Caps Radio Network
We'll have more on this game throughout the day at SB Nation DC, so keep it locked to this StoryStream. For more on Washington, check out Japers' Rink, SB Nation's Capitals blog. For some perspective from the other side, head on over to Blueshirt Banter, SB Nation's Rangers blog. And for more on this and every NHL game, head over to the SB Nation NHLhub page.