NEW YORK — Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals used a fast start to end a perfect road trip.
Ovechkin scored his NHL-leading 45th goal and the Capitals extended their winning streak to four games with a 4-2 victory over the New York Rangers on Monday night.
T.J. Oshie, Matt Niskanen and Evgeny Kuznetsov also scored for Washington, which went 3-0 at Detroit, Montreal and Madison Square Garden.
Nicklas Backstrom, who had four assists in a win over Montreal on Saturday, added two more to give him 44 this season. Philipp Grubauer made 28 saves.
“Tonight we got really loose in the second two periods there, they really took it to us,” Oshie said. “Without Grub, we might be in overtime right now.”
Washington increased its lead to five points over two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh for first place in the Metropolitan Division.
“We’ve still got to keep going and keep getting points every night,” Oshie said.
Lias Andersson scored in his NHL debut and Mats Zuccarello added a goal for the Rangers.
Andersson, at 19 years, 164 days, became the youngest player in team history to score in his NHL debut. He broke the mark set by Mike Allison (19 years, 195 days) on Oct. 9, 1980, at Boston.
“It feels good, obviously,” Andersson said. “It’s always fun to score and especially in your first NHL game, so it was fun.”
The Capitals scored four goals in the first period and cruised from there.
“I think we jumped in right away,” Ovechkin said. “I think we had pretty good chances in the first couple of shifts. Osh scored, Nisky’s goal is pretty sick. How he scored, it was pretty impressive.”
Oshie gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead 2:50 into the game with his 18th of the season. Backstrom skated the puck into the zone and had three Rangers near him when he passed to an open Oshie at the right faceoff circle and he beat Alexandar Georgiev with a wrister.
Niskanen made it 2-0 just 2:23 later. Kuznetsov skated with the puck at the blue line and sent a backhand pass to Niskanen, who had plenty of time to score his seventh of the season at 5:13
Ovechkin scored on a one-timer on the power play from his favorite spot in the left faceoff circle at 8:54. Georgiev was pulled after allowing three goals on six shots.
Ondrej Pavelec replaced him and made 26 saves. It was Pavelec’s first appearance since Feb. 9 against Calgary.
Kuznetsov finished off the dominant first period with a short-handed goal at 16:39.
“We talked about this road trip,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “We’ve had really terrible starts. We put a lot of emphasis on the first period, obviously. We were able to get their goaltender out and obviously built a lead.”
Andersson and Filip Chytil gave the Rangers a glimpse of the franchise’s future. Andersson and Chytil, both 2017 first-round draft picks and centers, were promoted from the team’s American Hockey League affiliate in Hartford on Sunday.
Chytil centered a line with Kevin Hayes and Zuccarello. Andersson centered a line with Jimmy Vesey and Ryan Spooner and got the Rangers on the board. Andersson cut it to 4-1 late in the second period when Vesey worked the puck behind the net and sent a pass to Andersson, who wristed it past Grubauer at 13:16.
“It was a great feeling to see him score his first goal,” Chytil said of Andersson. “It was something special. We will talk about it tonight. It’s great that he scored his first goal in his first game.”
Chytil assisted on Zuccarello’s 16th goal at 4:26 of the third for his first NHL point.
“Both kids had a good game,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “It was an emotional day and an emotional game for them, but I thought they played well.”
NOTES: Devante Smith-Pelly, Shane Gersich and Christian Djoos were scratched by the Capitals. … According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Andersson and Chytil became the first pair of teenagers to get a point in the same game with the Rangers since Dec. 18, 1974 (Ron Greschner and Dave Maloney). Chytil played two games earlier in the season with New York. … Henrik Lundqvist, David Desharnais, Peter Holland, Paul Carey and Tony DeAngelo were the healthy scratches for the Rangers.
The teams play the second half of a back-to-back Wednesday night in Washington.
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