WASHINGTON — Derick Brassard and Mats Zuccarello are struggling. Before the Rangers’ 5-2 loss to the Capitals on Sunday, coach Alain Vigneault said both have been failing to make good decisions with the puck. He hoped they would rebound against the Capitals, but it didn’t happen.
The longtime top-six linemates were separated, and each was a minus-2.
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Zuccarello, who scored the shootout winner against Philadelphia on Saturday, had an assist, but it was only his third point (one goal, two assists) in nine games. Brassard, pointless yesterday, also is 1-2-3 in nine games, and his penalty in the first period led to a power-play goal.
“Brass took that holding-the- stick penalty [on Evgeny Kuznetsov]. It wasn’t a good penalty at all. They tied it up on that,” Vigneault said.
He also lamented J.T. Miller’s unthinking pass in the defensive zone early in the third period, which helped the Capitals extend their lead to 4-2. Said Vigneault, “We turned it over on a simple play.”
Miller also was a minus-2.
Klein sits out
Defenseman Kevin Klein, who had played eight consecutive games since returning from an abdominal strain, sat out with thumb soreness, the result of blocking a shot in Philadelphia. The injury is not believed to be serious.
The abdominal strain sidelined Klein, (3-6-9 and a team-high plus-13) for 11 games. He took warm-ups, but rookie Dylan McIlrath started in his spot, on the right side of captain Ryan McDonagh.
McIlrath played 12:47, with two shots and two hits. But he slid on one knee past Alex Ovechkin in the left circle, which led to Ovechkin’s power-play goal in the first period, and was in the penalty box for slashing when Marcus Johansson’s goal gave the Capitals a 2-1 lead.
Dan Boyle’s apparent goal with 54.7 seconds left in regulation was waved off after a review. Oscar Lindberg was offside . . . The Rangers had 33 shots, but only nine in the third period.