Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
The Washington Capitals clash with the New York Rangers for the second time this season on Wednesday night. The Capitals have points in 11 straight games (10-0-1) against New York and have won the past seven meetings with the Rangers, including a 5-2 victory at Capital One Arena earlier this season on October 18. NBCSN will have the call on “Wednesday Night Hockey” from Madison Square Garden beginning at 8 PM ET.
Since their 13-game point streak (11-0-2) ended with a 5-2 loss against the Montreal Canadiens on Friday, the Capitals have won two straight to expand their lead in the league standings to seven points. Though, their 23 games played are tied for the most in the NHL with the Calgary Flames. The New York Islanders sit at 29 points but have five games in hand. The Capitals are 10-1-1 on the road this season and 8-0-1 in their last nine games out of town.
Defenseman John Carlson’s 27 assists are tied with Edmonton Oilers center Leon Draisaitl for the league lead, while his 35 points in 23 games are third-best in the NHL. In addition, his +15 rating is tied with Pittsburgh Penguins center Jared McCann and Ottawa Senators forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau for first in the NHL. The 29-year old extended his point-streak to seven games, where he’s tallied a goal and 12 points, with three assists in the Capitals’ 5-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Monday. Captain Alex Ovechkin’s 15 goals are third in the NHL, two behind Boston Bruins forward David Pastrnak for the league lead.
The Capitals’ 86 goals this season are 13 ahead of the Colorado Avalanche for the most in the NHL while their average of 3.74 goals-per-game is also the most. The team’s 24.3% power-play efficiency is seventh-best, and their 85.2% penalty-killing efficiency is sixth-best.
Forward Garnet Hathaway will face supplemental discipline after spitting towards Ducks defenseman Erik Gudbranson prior to the game. If he is suspended, the Capitals will make other moves to bring in reinforcements and stay under the NHL salary cap. Options include putting forwards Carl Hagelin or Nic Dowd, who have missed the past six and four games, respectively, with lower-body injuries, on injured reserve. Neither will play on Wednesday, so the Capitals have only 11 forwards on the roster should Hathaway be sidelined.
Goaltender Braden Holtby, who is 11-1-3 with a .906 save percentage and a 2.91 save percentage this season, is expected to start for the Capitals in New York on Wednesday night. In 24 career games against the Rangers, the 30-year old is 13-9-1 with a .920 save percentage, a 2.40 goals-against average, and one shutout. He made 26 saves in the Capitals’ 5-2 win over the Rangers on October 18.
Vitek Vanecek is the backup as Ilya Samsonov remains in Hershey to keep the Capitals under the salary cap.
After missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second straight season last year, the Rangers have lost two straight games and are tied for 12th in the Eastern Conference with 18 points this season. They have also dropped three of their last four contests but are 5-4-1 in their last 10. The Rangers are 5-4-2 at Madison Square Garden this season.
In his first season on Broadway, forward Artemi Panarin leads the Rangers in goals (nine), assists (14), and points (23). In addition, his +9 rating is tied with center Ryan Strome for the best on the squad. The 28-year old is currently riding an 11-game point streak, where he has tallied five goals and 17 points. In addition, he has recorded a multi-point game in his past two outings and five in his last six.
The Rangers’ average of 3.33 goals-per-game is the ninth-most in the league but their average of 3.61 goals-against per game is second-highest behind only the Detroit Red Wings (3.68). Their 72.9% efficiency on the penalty-kill is the fourth-worst in the NHL this season. The Rangers’ average of 36.1 shots-against per game is the second-most in the league, fewer than only the Chicago Blackhawks (37.1), while their 47.4% faceoff winning percentage is the third-worst.
The Rangers return home from Florida, where they were outscored by a combined total of 13-6 in two games. They will hit the road once again for two games north of the border against the Senators and Canadiens on the weekend before coming home for two games next week. They are currently in the midst of a stretch where they play only five home games in a span of 16 games.
Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who is 4-4-1 with a .905 save percentage and a 3.54 goals-against average, is expected to start for the Rangers. In 41 career appearances against the Capitals, the 37-year old is 21-13-7 with a .905 save percentage, a 2.80 goals-against average, and four shutouts. He made 29 saves in the Rangers’ 5-2 loss at Capital One Arena last month.
- Through 23 games, the Capitals have not allowed more than one power-play goal in a game, joining the Penguins as the only teams in the NHL to allow one or fewer power-play goals in each game they’ve played this season
- The Capitals are 3-0-1 against the Metropolitan Division this season and have outscored Metro Division opponents 12-6 in those games
- This season, the Capitals are 4-1-2 in games where they trail after the first period and 3-2-1 in games where they trail after the second period
By Harrison Brown