Ryan McDonagh finally ended his scoring drought, and in turn snapped the New York Rangers’ losing streak.
The team captain’s back-to-back goals in a pivotal second period helped the Rangers end a four-game skid with a 6-5 victory against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night at SAP Center in San Jose, Calif.
The veteran defenseman hadn’t scored a regular-season goal since last April 9.
Kevin Hayes (goal No. 11 of the season), Jesper Fast (eight) and Brady Skjei (three) and J.T. Miller (11) each lit the lamp for New York, which enters the All-Star break on a positive note despite losing six of its past nine games (3-0-6).
For the Sharks, the absence of injured alternate captain Joe Thornton was overcome by a pair of goals from Logan Couture (20) and one each for Barclay Goodrow (four), Marc-Edouard Vlasic (eight) and Tomas Hertl (14).
San Jose was outshot 29-28 in losing its second straight. Still, the Sharks have won five of eight (5-2-1) heading into the break.
Thornton is expected to miss at least two weeks after injuring his right knee Tuesday in San Jose’s 5-4 overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets. Joe Pavelski centered the first line in Thornton’s place.
Ondrej Pavelec made 23 saves for New York. San Jose’s Aaron Dell stopped 23 of 29 shots.
Two goals from McDonagh in a span of 1:12 put the Rangers ahead 4-3 with 7:44 remaining in the middle period, and Skjei’s goal with 2:51 left in the second period made it 5-4.
Vlasic brought the Sharks within a goal with 9:09 to go in the game, but Miller restored the two-goal lead with 1:50 to play. Hertl’s strike with 50 seconds left made things interesting, but San Jose failed to bridge the gap.
Hayes opened the scoring 5:45 into the first period, but Goodrow’s goal exactly one minute later tied it. Couture’s first goal with 9:04 remaining before the first intermission gave San Jose a 2-1 lead before Fast answered with 2:07 to play in the period.
Couture’s second goal 2:36 into the second made it 3-2.
San Jose won the first meeting between the teams, prevailing 4-1 on Oct. 23 in New York.
--Field Level Media