The New York Rangers completed one of their finest regular seasons in their long history Saturday.
They’re not dwelling on it.
Kevin Hayes and Dominic Moore each had a goal and an assist, Henrik Lundqvist stopped 22 shots and the Rangers capped their stellar regular season with a 4-2 win over the Washington Capitals.
Alex Ovechkin scored his league-leading 53rd goal for Washington (45-26-11) and Stan Galiev scored the first of his career.
The Rangers (53-22-7), winners of the Presidents’ Trophy as the league’s top team in the regular season, set franchise records for wins and points, with 113, in a season.
“Everything we’ve done, the Presidents’ Trophy and everything, that’s gone,” Derick Brassard said. “When the buzzer sounded in the third period, everything’s gone. Now we have to look forward to the playoffs.”
Brassard and Jesper Fast, who picked up an empty-netter, added goals for the Rangers, and Martin St. Louis had two assists as New York won for the sixth time in seven games.
“Obviously we had a good year,” New York coach Alain Vigneault said. “I’m very proud of the way we played, but now our focus shifts on the playoffs.”
The top-seeded Rangers, looking to improve on last year’s run to the Stanley Cup finals, won’t learn their first-round playoff opponent until the completion of Saturday’s games.
Lundqvist won five of his seven starts after returning from a neck injury and finished the regular season with 30 wins.
“Coming back I kind of set a personal goal to win 30 games,” he said. “I knew it was going to be a challenge, but the guys played really well and I think really helped me find my game fast.”
The Capitals will return to the playoffs under first-year coach Barry Trotz after a one-year absence.
Washington had a chance to clinch second place in the Metropolitan Division and home ice for its first-round series against the Islanders, but will await the result of the Islanders game against the Blue Jackets.
“We’re disappointed that it’s not in our hands right now,” Trotz said. “We came out flat in the first and they capitalized. They didn’t get a lot of chances, but they capitalized.”
Braden Holtby, extending his team record with his 25th consecutive start, made 30 saves for Washington. He was playing in his 73rd game of the season, tying Olaf Kolzig for the team record.
New York opened the scoring at 12:36 of the first when Ryan McDonagh’s shot hit Hayes, and Hayes backhanded the loose puck out of mid-air past Holtby for his 17th goal.
Brassard made it 2-0 at 15:50 with a hard shot from the point on a power play.
It was his career-high 19th goal of the season and the 100th of his career.
“That wasn’t the message we wanted to send [to the Rangers],” Karl Alzner said regarding potentially meeting the Rangers in the playoffs.
After Moore’s backhand made it 3-0 early in the second, Ovechkin pulled Washington within two when his one-timer from his power-play home in the left circle beat Lundqvist at 6:31.
Nicklas Backstrom had an assist, pulling into the league lead and hitting the 60-assist mark for the second straight season.
Fast’s empty-netter made it 4-1 before Galiev closed out the scoring.
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