NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Monday, January 24th
(All times eastern)
New York Rangers (28-19-3) at Washington Capitals (27-14-8), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Washington Capitals will aim for a third straight
victory and also try to extend a point streak when they host the New York
Rangers for tonight's clash at Verizon Center.
The Capitals, who are coming off road victories over the New York Islanders
and Toronto, have recorded a point in four straight games (3-0-1).
With 62 points, Washington is three points behind Tampa Bay for first place in
the Southeast Division. The Caps are also fifth in the Eastern Conference
standings and three points ahead of the Rangers, who are tied with Montreal
for the sixth seed.
Washington will be looking for a measure of revenge against the Rangers after
the Blueshirts posted a blowout win the last time these clubs met.
The Rangers and Capitals have split a pair of games this season, but New York
recorded a 7-0 victory at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 12. That win ended a
four-game slide in this series for the Rangers, who have still lost five of
six and eight of 10 in D.C.
The Capitals picked up a victory Saturday in Toronto as Alex Ovechkin tallied
his first hat trick of the season in Washington's 4-1 victory at Air Canada
Ovechkin, a two-time Rocket Richard Trophy winner, is starting to come alive
offensively after failing to live up to his usual torrid scoring pace for much
of this season. The Russian superstar has four goals and two assists in his
last three games and now has 19 markers and 51 points on the season.
Ovechkin has 24 points (13 goals, 11 assists) in 22 career games against the
Matt Hendricks scored the other goal for the Capitals and Nicklas Backstrom
notched two assists for the victors. Braden Holtby recorded his fourth win
thanks to a 35-save effort.
"It was a huge game for us," Holtby said. "We played a good road game and got
a win out of it."
Holtby could get a third straight start in net tonight as the club's top two
goaltenders -- Michal Neuvirth and Semyon Varlamov -- are both currently
dealing with lower-body injuries.
Varlamov has been healthy enough to serve as the backup to Holtby in the last
two games, while Neuvirth is still day-to-day.
The Rangers won for the second time in three games on Saturday, posting a
shootout victory in Atlanta. Mats Zuccarello scored the winner in the deciding
phase as New York took the 3-2 victory at Philips Arena.
Zuccarello was the second shooter for New York and he went from the backhand
to the forehand before sliding a low shot past Ondrej Pavelec. Niclas Bergfors
was the last chance for the Thrashers, but Henrik Lundqvist made a blocker
save on the backhander for the win.
Brian Boyle and Wojtek Wolski each had a goal for the Rangers, who came into
the game having lost four of six. Lundqvist stopped 20 shots in the win.
"I've said it all year long, it's an easy team to like," said New York head
coach John Tortorella about his group. "We played as a team and you have to
give them high marks tonight since we found a way to win."
Washington is 16-5-5 as the host this year, while the Rangers have a solid
16-9-1 road record.
01/24 10:54:50 ET