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Capital punishment in New York

China Daily | Updated: 2017-03-02 07:20

NEW YORK - After getting off to a slow start, the NHL-leading Washington Capitals picked up their play and pulled away for a big win against a division rival on Tuesday night.

Marcus Johansson had two goals and an assist to help Washington beat the New York Rangers 4-1 in Kevin Shattenkirk's first game with the Capitals after being acquired in a Monday trade with the St. Louis Blues.

Brett Connolly and Nicklas Backstrom also scored and Braden Holtby stopped 29 shots.

"They didn't bring me in to save anything," Shattenkirk said before the game.

"This is the best team in the NHL right now. I just have to make sure I'm coming in and doing what I do best."

In the weeks leading up to Wednesday's trade deadline, Capitals players saw no glaring needs.

Holtby, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner as the NHL's best goaltender, is on top of his game. Forwards Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom are thriving with a stronger supporting cast, and the Capitals' defense was full of top-end talent.

General manager Brian MacLellan sounded content just to "upgrade on the fringes" and not make any major moves.

But Shattenkirk, a 28-year-old puck-mover with offensive punch, was too good to pass up as potentially the final piece of the puzzle to nail down Washington's first Stanley Cup.

"I thought if there was one guy that could make our team better, it was him," MacLellan said.

"We were comfortable going into the playoffs with what we had, but at the same time I think it's my job to pursue anything that might make this team better."

Evgeny Kuznetzov and Matt Niskanen each had two assists against the Rangers, while Shattenkirk had four shots on goal in 17:57 of ice time.

Barry Trotz got his 700th career victory - including his 143rd since joining the Capitals before the 2014-15 season.

"I've been around a long time and I've been blessed to coach a lot of great players," said Trotz, who had 557 wins in 15 seasons with Nashville.

Brady Skjei scored in the first period and Henrik Lundqvist finished with 34 saves as the Rangers lost for the second time in three days on home ice after going 5-0-1 in their previous six at Madison Square Garden.

"They made us go back for the puck all night," New York captain Ryan McDonagh said. "It really wore on us. It negated a lot of our team's speed. We had to use a lot of energy in our zone at times."

The Capitals were in control in the second period as they scored twice and outshot the Rangers 18-9.

Associated Press

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