New York, NY (Sports Network) - The Washington Capitals scored a trio of first-period goals and rode that momentum to a 4-1 win over the New York Rangers.
Nicklas Backstrom added his first goal since returning from a concussion in the second period for the Capitals (42-32-8), who finished as the Eastern Conference's seventh seed and will battle the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins in the opening round of the playoffs.
With Michal Neuvirth out of the lineup, Braden Holtby started Washington's season finale and made 35 saves. Neuvirth was hurt in the second period Thursday when the Panthers' Marco Sturm fell on his left leg. It's uncertain how much time Neuvirth will miss.
Henrik Lundqvist allowed four goals on just 17 shots for the top-seeded Rangers (51-24-7), who will host the Ottawa Senators in the playoffs.
It's a lot of hockey and I'm really excited and our team will be ready to play," said Rangers coach John Tortorella. "I'm really excited about starting out and I know the guys are too."
Despite losing three of its last four games, New York can still secure the Presidents' Trophy as the regular season's best team for the first time since 1993-94 if Vancouver loses to Edmonton in regulation later Saturday.
Alex Ovechkin ignited the Capitals' offensive surge, firing a quick shot off a faceoff 32 seconds into the game. Mathieu Perreault then tipped a point shot by Roman Hamrlik behind Lundqvist at the 2:18 mark. John Carlson scored a power-play goal on a shot that caromed off a New York player with 1:47 remaining in the first.
"Any time you get a lead like that on Henrik Lundqvist you have to make it count," said Holtby. "You don't see that that often."
In the middle stanza, Backstrom fired a wrist shot past Lundqvist from the slot on an odd-man rush.
Brian Boyle put the Rangers on the board later in the frame, scoring on a wraparound at 12:44.
New York outshot Washington 13-3 in the third period, but Holtby was up to the task between the pipes.
GAME NOTES: Hamrlik had two assists...The Rangers were 0-for-3 on the power play...Marian Gaborik paced New York with six shots.