NEW YORK | Bruce Boudreau hates losing, but this was the type of preseason contest he was happy to see his Washington Capitals be a part of.
Christopher Higgins tapped home a loose puck with 70 seconds left as the New York Rangers defeated the Caps 3-2 on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.
"I thought it was the closest to a regular-season game that we've had," Boudreau said. "For the tempo and the intensity, it was a real good test for us."
Milan Jurcina leveled Brandon Dubinsky just to the left of goalie Jose Theodore, but the puck slipped across the crease, and Higgins was able to nudge it past David Steckel and Theodore. Otherwise, Theodore was pretty sharp in his second preseason game. He stopped 21 shots, yielding only a pair of Marian Gaborik tallies before the winner.
"I think tonight was good -- there were a lot more chances than my game against Buffalo [last week]," Theodore said. "I was happy with my positioning and my rebound control. There were a couple of really good chances, and I was happy with the way I was seeing the puck."
After a scoreless first period, Alexander Semin had Washington's first goal of the second. He collected the puck and circled the net before whipping a wrist shot into the top right corner to knot the score at 1-1.
Keith Aucoin potted his second tally of the preseason later in the second to make it 2-2. Aucoin, Alex Ovechkin and Semin had a chance for a three-on-one, but Ovechkin made it a two-on-one by swinging wide and connecting with Aucoin for a one-timer.
This was the Caps' first look at new Rangers enforcer Donald Brashear. After three seasons with Washington, Brashear greeted his ex-teammates by fighting Brandon Sugden and taking a pair of minor penalties -- while consistently drawing a smattering of boos from his new fans.
Henrik Lundqvist had 23 saves for the Rangers, including a pair of key stops on Alexandre Giroux in the final period.
"[Giroux] has got the puck on his stick in the slot with three minutes to go, and he is paid to do those things," Boudreau said. "Somehow he's got to find a way to do it here. He's been doing it in the American [Hockey] League all the time. ... He also had the two-on-one with nine minutes to go. Those are the ones that goal scorers put the puck in the net."