Game Preview: Capitals And Rangers Conclude Home-And-Home Back-To-Back Set In The Big Apple


The
Washington Capitals will look to ride their momentum from Saturday’s win into Sunday’s rematch with the New York Rangers. The Caps came back from a 2-1 deficit in the third period in the first game of the home-and-home slate, and gained more ground in the standings with a 3-2 win. 

This is the final meeting between these two division rivals, with the Caps leading the season-set 2-1.

Here are the projected lines. 

Max Pacioretty – Dylan Strome – T.J. Oshie
Aliaksei Protas – Connor McMichael – Tom Wilson
Hendrix Lapierre – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Anthony Mantha
Beck Malenstyn – Nic Dowd – Nicolas Aube-Kubel

Martin Fehervary – John Carlson
Trevor van Riemsdyk – Ethan Bear
Joel Edmundson – Nick Jensen

 Darcy Kuemper
Charlie Lindgren

Scratched: Alex Ovechkin (lower), Rasmus Sandin (upper), Sonny Milano (upper), Alex Alexeyev, Matthew Phillips, Nicklas Backstrom (hip)

 Washington played a much more controlled game against the Rangers. Outside of being outplayed for much of the second period, the Capitals kept pounding their way into the offensive zone and moving up ice cleanly. That was missing big time in their loss against the Seattle Kraken.

 “I think we just moved the puck a little faster and we were a little more direct. Sometimes we get caught in wanting to bring the puck back quite a bit,” T.J. Oshie said after Saturday’s game. “Today, I think we advanced it a little bit more, and then off our forecheck and off of our pressure we were able to get pucks in the middle because we had everyone come into the zone supporting each other.”

 The Capitals were without Alex Ovechkin for the first time this season. Ovechkin has a nagging lower-body injury, which he played through against Seattle. Capitals head coach Spencer Carbery said that he will travel with the team to the Big Apple, but there is an “outside chance” he will play.

“That’s a massive hole to try to fill in and a massive presence on the bench, on the ice and then in the locker room,” Oshie said. “So everyone needs to get a little bit extra when “big eight” is not there with us.”

 The Caps improved to 11-6-1 against Metropolitan Division opponents, but prior to Saturday, they had dropped four out of their last five divisional games. One of those games happened to be against the Rangers coming out of the Christmas break, where the Caps fell 5-1 at Madison Square Garden.

 “We didn’t like how it went in New York and I think maybe there’s a little extra juice from that game coming out of the break,” John Carlson said. “Our division is this tight. Our division is good, and the guys know what it takes to win these games and how important it is to play well against your division.”

Anthony Mantha ended a seven-game goal drought after tying the game at one with a pretty breakaway goal. It was also Mantha’s 12th goal of the season which breaks his season total last year. Meanwhile, his goal marked the third time this season that the right-winger scored against the Rangers. 

“He has a world class ability to score the hockey puck, to put it in simple terms. And that comes in a lot of different shapes and forms,” Carbery said. “When he gets in those tight situations on a breakaway, out of the corner. He has the ability and the hands and the finish and the wherewithal to find the back of the net in those spots.”

His normal line with Connor McMichael and Aliaksei Protas was split up once again, with Mantha playing on the right side with Hendrix Lapierre and Evgeny Kuznetsov. 

Scouting New York

The Rangers (26-13-2) lost their fourth straight game following their loss against the Capitals. They now hold just a one point lead in the division for first place, with the Carolina Hurricanes defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins in overtime.

New York’s power play, which was the best in the league going into Saturday, was 0-for-3 against Washington. 

Igor Shesterkin is expected to get the start in goal after Jonathan Quick got the nod in D.C. Shesterkin has dropped his last two starts and is 2-3-0 in his last five. 

Player To Watch

Defenseman Adam Fox scored the only two goals for New York against Washington. Fox has four goals in his last five games.

Puck drop is once again slated for 1 p.m. at Madison Square Garden. The game can be streamed on Monumental Sports Network. 

By Jacob Cheris

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.


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