Mika Zibanejad scored five goals, including the overtime winner on Thursday, as the Capitals fell 6-5 to the Rangers. Washington battled back from deficits of 2-1, 3-2, 4-3 and 5-4 to force overtime, but Zibanejad got the breakaway to finish off the storybook night and end the Caps' hopes of escaping New York with two points.
With the Philadelphia Flyers' win on Thursday, they now pull even with Washington for first in the Metropolitan Division.
Here is how the Caps lost.
5 goals for Mika Zibanejad
Zibanejad killed the Caps with a five-goal performance, and he did it with very timely goals. Zibanejad erased a strong start for Washington by tipping in a shot from Artemi Panarin less than two minutes after Carl Hagelin gave the Caps the 1-0 lead. He then one-timed a shot on a delayed penalty early in the second to give New York the 2-1 lead. With the game tied 3-3 heading into the third, Zibanejad scored just 12 seconds in to complete the hat trick. He then scored his fourth of the game with less than two minutes remaining for a go-ahead power-play goal.
Once the game went to overtime, of course Zibanejad was there for the poetic ending. Dmitry Orlov moved up and Tom Wilson needed to drop back to account for that. He was late getting there leaving Zibanejad open for the breakaway. At that point, there was never any doubt that he was going to finish off the game.
A troubling trend for the Caps is their inability to build and sustain any momentum at all. Like Wednesday's loss to the Flyers, Washington got off to a great start. The Caps drew a penalty less than two minutes in, the power play looked much improved even if it didn't score, and Hagelin made it 1-0. They then proceeded to give up the game-tying goal less than two minutes in. Ilya Kovalchuk tied the game at 2 in the second period with his first goal as a Cap and Washington gave up a goal to Tony DeAngelo less than two minutes later.
DeAngelo sneaks in behind Ovechkin
The Rangers entered the offensive zone and kicked the puck out to the blue line. Alex Ovechkin was high in the zone covering the defense. Tony DeAngelo backed up along the blue line, then wheeled into the offensive zone behind Ovechkin. Ovechkin reacted late and Panarin found DeAngelo with the cross-ice pass which he roofed into the net.
New York scored just 12 seconds into the third period off an egregiously terrible play by Evgeny Kuznetsov. The puck was dumped into Washington's zone and Kuznetsov went to retrieve it. He then just...whiffed. He missed the puck completely and pulled up, allowing an easy steal for Pavel Buchnevich. Buchnevich backhanded the puck to Zibanejad in front of the net and he shot it in before Ilya Samsonov really knew what happened.
3rd period penalties
Washington kept battling back and Ovechkin scored to tie the game at 4. The Caps then proceeded to take three penalties over the course of 4:01. Lars Eller was called for roughing, Carlson for cross-checking and Eller was sent back to the box for high-sticking. Washington killed off the first two penalties, but Zibanejad scored on the third power play to give New York the late lead.
Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.
MORE CAPITALS NEWS: