Game Preview: Capitals @ Rangers

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After losing to the Red Wings in a shootout, the Capitals will look for their first post-bye week win on Sunday afternoon. Washington departed Detroit for New York and will take on the Rangers at MSG. Puck drop is at 12:30 PM and you can catch the game nationally on NBC. 

NEW YORK
The Rangers (37-19-1) sit four points behind the third spot in the Metropolitan Division, but hold the first Wild Card spot. New York had a six game winning streak going into their game Thursday night against the Islanders, but their New York counterparts would end the streak as the Rangers fell 4-2 in Brooklyn. The difference maker came early in the third period as the Rangers surrendered a goal while on the power play. Nick Holden and Jimmy Vesey scored the two Rangers goals while goaltender Henrik Lundqvist made 19 saves.

Lundqvist carries a 26-14-1 record with a 2.69 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage. He gave the Capitals fits in their last meeting, stopping 26 of 28 shots back in October in DC, en route to a 4-2 Rangers win. Their backup goalie, Antti Raanta, has posted an 11-5-0 record with a .920 save percentage and a 2.32 goals-against average.

J.T. Miller leads the Rangers with 46 points while Michael Grabner and Chris Kreider lead the team in goals with 26 and 22 respectively. Mats Zuccarello leads New York in assists with 31.

SPECIAL TEAMS
The Rangers are near the middle of the pack when it comes to the power play, ranked 14th in the league with a conversion rate of 20.1%. On the penalty kill, New York is ranked 11th in the NHL with a success rate of 82.3%

SHOTS FIRED AND SHOTS AGAINST
The Rangers are 19th in the league in shots per game with an average of 29.6. New York is 10th in the NHL in shots against with 29.6.

METROPOLITAN DIVISION STANDINGS

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WASHINGTON
The Capitals rallied back from a 2-0 deficit before ultimately falling in a shootout to the Red Wings 3-2 in Washington’s final regular season game at Joe Louis Arena on Saturday. The Caps got on the board late in the second period on a goal by Zach Sanford, his second goal in as many NHL games. Washington would tie it late in the third on a rebound goal by Daniel Winnik. Evgeny Kuznetsov was the only Capital to score in the shootout.

After Braden Holtby got the start in Detroit, Philipp Grubauer will get the nod in goal for Washington’s second game of the weekend back-to-back set. Grubauer carries a 10-3-2 record with a 2.26 goals against average and a save percentage of .931.

Nicklas Backstrom leads the team with 61 points and 44 assists which includes an assist on Winnik’s game-tying goal in Detroit. Alex Ovechkin leads in goals with 26. A couple of players have milestones within reach. Justin Williams needs one more assist for 400 in his career while Backstrom is one goal shy of passing Dennis Maruk (182) for ninth place on the Capitals all-time goals list.

SPECIAL TEAMS
After a slow start to the season on the man-advantage, the Capitals have leapfrogged to seventh in the league in power play success with a conversion rate of 21.5%. On the penalty kill, Washington is ranked fifth in the NHL with a success rate of 84.2%.

SHOTS FIRED AND SHOTS AGAINST
The Capitals are in the middle of the pack (15th) in shots taken per game with 29.8. Washington is fifth in the league in shots against, allowing 27.9 shots per game.

THE MATCHUP
Sunday’s game is the second of four meetings between the Capitals and Rangers this season. They’ll meet right back up at “The Garden” nine days from this contest on the final day of February. The fourth and final meeting will take place at Verizon Center on April 5th in the third to last game of the regular season.

SERIES FLASHBACK

By Michael Marzzacco

The "San Man" is heating up!

A post shared by NoVa Caps (@nova_caps) on

About Michael Marzzacco

Michael is an avid DC sports fan with a passion for writing. He has followed the Washington Capitals since the 2003-04 season, around the time his enthusiasm for DC teams really began. It was from the days when they had the worst record in the league to when they became the most exciting team in the area. His Dad took him to his first Caps game a couple of years later. One of his favorite memories was being in the stands during the 2015 Winter Classic where Troy Brouwer scored the game-winning goal with 12 seconds left. Michael graduated from Radford University in May 2016, earning a degree in journalism and focusing on sports journalism and broadcasting. His goal is to work in sports media in Washington, D.C.
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