After a five game road trip that saw the Capitals hit four different time zones, it feels good to be home, especially coming off a win the night before. Tonight the Capitals will welcome the Rangers to Verizon Center with the hopes of locking up the top seed and home ice advantage throughout the playoffs. Puck drop is at 8 PM on NBCSN.
The Rangers (47-26-6, 100 points) clinched a playoff berth with a 4-3 win over the Flyers on Sunday at MSG, snapping an eight game losing streak on home ice. They currently own the first wild card spot and mathematically can still finish third in the Metropolitan, but they will need to win out. While that is still a long shot, New York still holds a seven point lead over second-place Toronto with three more regular season games left for each club.
The Rangers come into tonight’s game banged up, well sort of. Head coach Alain Vigneault is resting four players: Ryan McDonagh, Rick Nash, Mats Zuccarello, and Jesper Fast. Vigneault said that all four players are day-to-day with “bumps and bruises” but these injuries won’t prevent any of these guys from missing playoff action, which starts a week from today.
Henrik Lundqvist will get the start in goal for the Rangers. Tonight will be his fourth game back since returning from a hip injury that sidelined him for most of March. He is 1-1-2 during that stretch, and overall carries a 31-18-4 record with a 2.75 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage.
METROPOLITAN DIVISION STANDINGS
The Capitals (53-18-8, 114 points) need just one point tonight to clinch the Metropolitan Division, the number one seed in the eastern conference, the President’s Trophy and home ice advantage throughout the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Capitals are coming off a 4-1 win over the Maple Leafs last night, which concluded their season-long five game road trip. Washington finished 4-1-0 on the trip.
John Carlson, who was a late scratch last night, will miss his second straight game with a lower-body injury and is listed as day-to-day. Head coach Barry Trotz is using a similar tactic as Vigneault. While Carlson’s injury isn’t serious Trotz wants all his guys healthy for the playoffs.
Braden Holtby will get the start tonight after backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer got the start Tuesday in Toronto. Grubauer made 27 saves in their 4-1 win. Holtby carries a 41-12-6 record with a 2.11 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage.
- Washington has posted a 31-6-2 record at home this season, marking the franchise record for home wins in a season.
- Alex Ovechkin earned an assist on Tuesday to pass Alexander Mogilny (1,032) for second place in NHL history in points by a Russian-born player. Ovechkin sits 146 points shy of tying Sergei Fedorov (1,179) for first place.
- Braden Holtby earned his 41st win of the season on Sunday at Columbus, tying the second-most wins in a season by a goaltender in franchise history.
- The Capitals have won six consecutive games against Metropolitan Division opponents and have earned a point in 15 of their last 17 games against Metro Division teams (13-2-2)
- Ovechkin has recorded 44 points (29 goals, 15 assists) in 47 career games against the Rangers and has scored a goal in 11 of his last 13 games against New York.
Game Notes vs. NY Rangers, 4/5/17 (Capitals PR)
By Michael Marzzacco