LANDOVER -- Mike Ridley's third-period goal gave the Washington Capitals a 3-2 National Hockey League victory over the New York Rangers before a sellout crowd of 18,130 at the Capital Centre last night.
The Rangers, who lead the Patrick Division, led 1-0 and 2-1 before the Capitals rallied to win the game and end a three-game losing streak.
With the score tied at 2, Mikhail Tatarinov took a shot from the top of the right circle. Dino Ciccarelli, who had scored the tying goal with 32 seconds remaining in the second period, screened Rangers goalie John Vanbiesbrouck, and Ridley knocked the rebound of Tatarinov's shot past Vanbiesbrouck for the winning goal at 6 minutes, 20 seconds of the third period.
The Capitals had several scoring opportunities down the stretch but could not pad their lead. With 45 seconds remaining, the Rangers pulled Vanbiesbrouck in favor of an extra attacker but could not get a shot on goal.
The victory was the second in six games for Washington against the Rangers and kept the Capitals three points out of the final playoff spot in the Patrick Division behind the New Jersey Devils, who beat the Pittsburgh Penguins last night, 5-2. The Capitals are 7-1-2 in their past 10 home games.
Dave Tippett also scored for Washington, and Don Beaupre was outstanding in goal with 28 saves.
"Beaupre played a very big game for us," said Capitals coach Terry Murray. "He made some very important saves. [Darren] Turcotte fired one of his patented slap shots at Beaupre and he made a great save. That was a key stop."
Beaupre, who has been in the Capitals goal in 11 of the last 12 games, said: "We seem to play better against the better teams in the league, especially at home. We needed the win tonight, and when you lose in a game like this, there is no excuse. We did what we had to tonight."
Tippett said: "This was a very important win for us. We need to get some momentum going our way. On my goal, John [Druce] gave me the puck at the top of the circle, and I just let fly with a slap shot that found its way into the cage."
The Capitals are getting the reputation of Beltway bullies, amassing 45 minutes in penalties last night to 35 for New York. Washington killed off seven Rangers power plays, five in the second period, and has not given up an extra-man goal in opponents' past 25 opportunities.
"We looked at stopping [James] Patrick and Leetch on New York's power play," said Tippett. "They set up everything from the points. We also pressured New York all over the ice and tried to minimize the time they had control of the puck so that they didn't have time to make any great plays."
Murray said: "We are battling to get back into the Patrick Division race, and to say the least, it was a very big win. I was extremely pleased at the play of our special teams, especially our penalty-killing unit. And Rod Langway [who returned after missing 17 games with back problems] contributed in a very big way.
"If home-ice advantage means anything, we should be in very good shape down the stretch because we play 11 of our next 18 games at home."
Former Capital Mike Gartner gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead at 16 minutes, 56 seconds of the first period. Gartner, who has 35 goals, was standing at the right post. Turcotte passed the puck across the crease from the left circle and Gartner put the puck into the open side of the goal behind Beaupre.
The Capitals tied the score twice in the second period. Tippett, scoring from the top of the right circle after a pass from Druce, tied it at 1 at 2:56.