WASHINGTON — Dealing with the aftermath of the Mats Zuccarello trade wasn’t easy for anyone, but the Rangers fought hard to give themselves a chance to win their second game of the weekend, after Saturday’s emotional victory over the Devils.
Playing without forward Kevin Hayes and defenseman Adam McQuaid, who were left out of the lineup again to protect them against the possibility of injury, the Rangers put up a fight against the Capitals, figuratively and literally (there was one fight in the game, and many confrontations and scrums) in a 6-5 overtime loss.
The Rangers rallied twice from two goals down, the second time on Brady Skjei’s second goal of the game, with 30.3 seconds left in regulation. They had their chances to win in overtime, but Evgeny Kuznetsov jammed a loose puck past Henrik Lundqvist with 39.6 seconds left in the five-minute overtime to give the Capitals the win.
“There’s an awful lot of good to take out of tonight,’’ Rangers coach David Quinn said. “We had some unbelievable chances in the overtime. The fact that we fought back from two-goal deficits twice; the way we competed and battled — and I’m not just talking about the fighting, but the way we just weren’t pushed around, physically, or mentally. These are the things you’re going to have to do, moving forward, to have success.’’
Jimmy Vesey, who took Zuccarello’s spot on the No. 1 line, had a goal and an assist, while Skjei scored two goals in a game for the first time in his NHL career. Chris Kreider and Vladislav Namestnikov had the other goals for the Rangers, who led, 1-0, 21 seconds into the first period, but trailed 3-1 early in the second period and 5-3 early in the third. Skjei’s first goal, at 18:18 of the second period and Vesey’s goal at :21 of the third tied it 3-3. Then, after goals 36 seconds apart by Nic Dowd and Nicklas Backstrom made it 5-3 at 3:01 of the third, Namestnikov scored on a power play at 6:01. Lundqvist made 29 saves on 35 shots.