NEW YORK -- Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom each scored in regulation and again in a shootout as the Washington Capitals beat the New York Rangers 3-2 Sunday night at Madison Square Garden.
Washington (14-16-1) earned its third win in a row.
Arron Asham and Derek Stepan scored for the Rangers. Stepan also scored in the shootout. Even though New York (15-13-2) has split its past six games, the Rangers moved into eighth place in the Eastern Conference with the point they gained Sunday.
Both teams experienced momentum surges in the first period, as all of the regulation scoring was done in the first 20 minutes.
Backstrom opened the scoring 7:54 into the first period with his fifth of the season. Ovechkin increased the lead to 2-0 less than two minutes later.
However, New York fought back on the strength of goals off the sticks of Asham (at 14:12) and Stepan (at 18:03).
The game remained tied until the shootout due to the efforts of the goaltenders, Washington's Braden Holtby and New York's Henrik Lundqvist. Lundqvist finished with 22 saves, while Holtby stopped 30 of 32 shots.
Both goaltenders made highlight-reel saves in the second period.
Holtby forced Marian Gaborik to shoot high and wide with 8:19 left in the second. Gaborik bore down on Holtby, sprung by a Michael Del Zotto home run pass, but instead of shooting, the New York winger attempted to deke Holtby to the ice and beat him with a backhander high to the glove side. Instead, the shot found the protective netting behind the glass.
Lundqvist matched Holtby by turning away Washington center Mike Ribeiro with a minute remaining in the second period. Riberio's shot hit Lundqvist in the mask, and Karl Alzner's shot on the rebound hit the goalpost.
NOTES: Sunday's game was the third and final regular-season meeting between the Eastern Conference rivals. The Rangers won the first two games. ...Stu Bickel reported to the Rangers' AHL affiliate, the Connecticut Whale, after clearing waivers. ... New York scratched defenseman Matt Gilroy and forward J.T. Miller. ... Defenseman Jeff Schultz and left wings Wojtek Wolski and Aaron Volpatti were scratched by Washington. ... Asham played in his first game since Feb. 19. Asham had missed 15 games with back spasms. ... AHL call-up Kris Newbury skated on New York's fourth line with Asham and Darroll Powe. ... The game also marked the end of Washington's longest road trip of the season. The Capitals will host the New York Islanders on Tuesday before ending the month with consecutive games in Buffalo (on Saturday) and Philadelphia (on Sunday). ... The match also spelled the end of New York's four-game homestand. The Rangers will finish March with road games in Philadelphia (on Tuesday), Ottawa (Thursday) and Montreal (Saturday).