Dryden Hunt scored the tiebreaking goal with 13:18 remaining in the third period and the host New York Rangers recorded a 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals in the regular-season finale for both teams.
The Rangers (52-24-6, 110 points) will start the postseason against the Pittsburgh Penguins, who defeated Columbus Blue Jackets and secured a third-place finish in the Metropolitan Division. The Capitals (44-26-12, 100 points) finished in the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference and will open the postseason next week against the Florida Panthers.
Hunt snapped a 2-2 tie when he got a pass from Kaapo Kakko and made a slick move to go from his forehand to his backhand. He skated to the goal line and when Washington goalie Ilya Samsonov got out of position, Hunt tucked the puck into the vacated left side of the net.
Filip Chytil and Alexis Lafreniere also scored for the Rangers, who avoided ending their season with a fourth straight loss. Braden Schneider and Kakko collected two assists apiece for New York, which held out Artemi Panarin (upper-body injury) and Andrew Copp (lower body) for the second straight game after they were injured in Tuesday’s loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.
Defensemen Justin Schultz and John Carlson scored for the Capitals, who finished the season with one win in the final six games (1-3-2).
Washington held out captain Alex Ovechkin (upper body) for the third straight game after his left shoulder crashed into the boards during Sunday’s loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Capitals also scratched Nicklas Backstrom (body maintenance).
New York backup goalie Alexandar Georgiev made 34 saves, including a pad stop on Tom Wilson with about 8 1/2 minutes left in the third. He then made consecutive saves in the final minute on T.J. Oshie and Schultz after Washington pulled Samsonov.
Samsonov finished with 30 saves.
After the teams combined for 22 shots in a scoreless opening period, there were three goals in the opening 5:13 of the second.
Chytil made it 1-0 3:26 into the second by sliding the puck under Samsonov’s left pad but 35 seconds later, Schultz tied it on a wrist shot from the middle of the left circle.
Washington took a 2-1 lead on Carlson’s slap shot from above the right circle but New York tied it with 4:16 left in the frame when Lafreniere finished off a 2-on-1 with Ryan Strome.
–Field Level Media