The Washington Capitals will host the New York Rangers on Friday in the first of four meetings between the two teams this season. They split four games of their series last season, with New York taking the first two before Washington won the last two. This will be a pivotal game for both clubs as three points separate the teams heading into Friday night’s tilt.
New York Rangers
Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk returns to the District for the first time since signing a 4-year contract with the Rangers on July 1. During his time with the Capitals, he had two goals and 14 points, along with a +4 rating in 19 games. He is currently tied for fourth on the Rangers with 5 goals and 20 points with center J.T. Miller.
Shattenkirk said “it doesn’t sit well” to hear Trotz say he didn’t consider Shattenkirk a top-pair D. But Shattenkirk said a lot of people probably have that opinion of him. Working to prove them wrong.
— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) December 7, 2017
The Rangers are red-hot, winning 7 of their past 10 games and carrying a two-game winning streak into Friday night. They most recently knocked off the Pittsburgh Penguins by a 4-3 score at PPG Paints Arena on Tuesday night. They are currently three point behind the Pens for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference but they have three games in hand on Pittsburgh. They are 4-5-0 on the road this season.
Friday’s contest against the Caps will be the first of back-to-back games as they host the New Jersey Devils at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night in another pivotal divisional matchup.
The Rangers lost Derek Stepan in the offseason and there was a question whether they would have a legitimate number one center going into the 2017-18 campaign. Mika Zibanejad seems to have calmed those concerns, leading the team with 11 goals and 22 points through 24 games after signing a 5-year contract with the Blueshirts during the summer.
Henrik Lundqvist will get the start on Friday night. He is 13-6-2 with a .917 save percentage and a 2.66 goals against average this season. Lifetime against the Caps, he is 21-11-4 with a .909 save percentage and a 2.61 goals against average.
The Washington Capitals will conclude their season-long five-game homestand on Friday. They will hit also wrap up a stretch where they played 9 out of 10 games at home, going 6-2-0 in the first eight games of that stretch. They have won three straight contests.
Washington most recently downed the Chicago Blackhawks by a 6-2 final on Wednesday night. Tom Wilson scored twice and had a career-high four-point night; Wilson has 2 goals and 9 points over his past 12 games and has four goals and 13 points in 24 games this season. Wilson had seven goals and 19 points in 82 games last season.
Alex Ovechkin also had a four-point night on Wednesday against Chicago, racking up a goal and three assists. Since being reunited on a line with Nicklas Backstrom for seven games, Ovechkin has 8 goals and 12 points with Backstrom assisting on five of those tallies. Ovechkin has scored 22 goals against Henrik Lundqvist in his career, the most he has scored on any goaltender. He is also a game-winning goal away from passing Guy LaFleur and Bobby Hull for ninth on the all-time game-winning goals list. He has scored the game-winning goal in the past two games and will go into Friday night with 97 in his career.
Backstrom scored his first goal in 21 games with the opening tally of the contest Wednesday, which marked the Capitals’ fifth consecutive game (and 8th out of the last 9 games) scoring the first goal.
The Capitals’ other goals came from Brett Connolly, who scored a goal for the third consecutive game, and Evgeny Kuznetsov, who has four goals and five points during a four-game point streak. Connolly and Ovechkin both enter Friday’s game with goals in three straight contests.
T.J. Oshie will likely miss his second straight game with an upper-body injury and is still labeled as day-to-day, but the Capitals get some good news on the injury report. After missing the past 20 games with an upper-body injury, Andre Burakovsky will rejoin the team for Friday night’s game against the Rangers. Burakovsky scored a goal and four points in nine games prior to getting hurt. He will likely skate on the third line alongside Connolly and center Lars Eller.
Braden Holtby will be between the pipes for Washington after stopping 37 out of 39 Chicago shots on Wednesday. He is 15-6-0 with a 2.60 goals against average and a .921 save percentage this season. Lifetime against New York, he is 8-9-1 with a .918 save percentage and a 2.47 goals against average. His most recent victory over the Rangers was a shutout at home on April 5, when he made 24 saves in the win.
-John Carlson has two goals and 16 points in his last 18 games. He is one assist shy of Evgeny Kuznetsov for the team lead and has two goals and 22 points in 29 games this season. Lifetime against the Rangers, he has four goals and 14 points in 25 games.
-The Capitals have gone 4 for 11 (36.4%) on the power play over the past 3 games and have been perfect on the penalty kill in that span, killing off five penalties.
-The Capitals’ defensemen have scored 40 points over the past 19 games and have 55 overall this season. Carlson, Matt Niskanen, Christian Djoos, and Dmitry Orlov each recorded assists against Chicago on Wednesday.
A Look Back in Time
The last time these two Metropolitan Division rivals met was on April 5. The Capitals won that game thanks to goals from Evgeny Kuznetsov and Justin Williams. Braden Holtby made 24 saves in the victory for his league-leading ninth shutout of the season. The Capitals clinched the Presidents’ Trophy that game as the top seed in the NHL, winning 2-0.
By Harrison Brown