NEW YORK — Alex Ovechkin scored his 709th goal to move into seventh in NHL history, but the Washington Capitals lost to the New York Rangers 4-2 at Madison Square Garden on Thursday.
Ovechkin was tied with Mike Gartner. He needs eight goals to tie Phil Esposito for sixth.
Anthony Bitetto scored his first goal in 113 games (Nov. 18, 2017), Ryan Strome scored twice, and Artemi Panarin had three assists for the Rangers (4-4-2). Igor Shesterkin made 31 saves for his third straight win.
The Rangers have a four-game point streak (3-0-1) and have won consecutive games for the first time this season.
Carl Hagelin scored, and Vitek Vanecek made 27 saves in his eighth straight start for the Capitals (6-2-3), who have lost two in a row in regulation after starting the season with points in nine straight games.
Bitetto gave New York a 2-0 lead at 9:15 of the second period after he carried the puck behind the net, regathered it in the corner after getting hit by Hagelin, and went up the left-wing boards. He avoided a hit from Nic Dowd, cut to the middle, eluded a stick check from John Carlson and beat Vanecek with a backhand from the hash marks.
Washington cut it to 2-1 on Hagelin’s goal at 18:57 of the second.
Strome gave the Rangers their second two-goal lead at 7:55 of the third period, finishing a 2-on-1 give-and-go with Panarin to make it 3-1.
Ovechkin cut it to 3-2 on a rising wrist shot off a face-off win at 11:01.
Pavel Buchnevich scored into an empty net with 27 seconds left for the 4-2 final.
Strome scored in front on a deflection of Adam Fox‘s shot from the point at 1:41 of the first period to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead.