Washington DC is still trying to get over the heartbreak of their Washington Nationals falling in the National League Divisional Series. The New York Rangers will look to add to that heartbreak on Saturday night at Verizon Center (7:00 PM, MSG/NHL Network), looking to deal the Capitals their first regulation loss of the season.
The Rangers enter tonight’s game with a 2-2-0 mark, having dropped their last game 2-1 on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden to the Detroit Red Wings. Mika Zibanejad had a goal in the second minute of play, but were unable to penetrate the defenses of Jimmy Howard further, as the Wings’ goalie made 32 saves. Zibanejad’s goal was assisted by Ryan McDonagh and Chris Kreider, the latter of whom kept season-opening points streak alive, having score at least one in the first quartet of games.
The Capitals (3-0-1) last played on Thursday, defeating the Florida Panthers 4-2. Justin Williams and Evgeny Kuznetsov each scored their first goals of the season to build a 2-0 first period lead. When Florida made up the deficit, Alex Ovechkin notched the game winner in the final frame, while Marcus Johansson capped things off with an empty netter. Brayden Holtby made 26 saves. Washington has won three in a row since an opening night shootout loss to Pittsburgh and has let up just 1.3 goals per game, the lowest tally in hockey.
This will be the first of four meetings between the Metropolitan Division rivals, who have engaged in several memorable playoff duels over recent years, most recently in 2015. Last season, the Rangers went 2-2-1 against the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Capitals, the most recent being a 3-2 victory on March 4, also at Verizon Center. The Rangers opened an early 2-0 lead in the first period, but Washington struck back in the second. Derek Stepan earned the lone tally in the 3rd, while Antti Raanta made 32 saves to preserve the victory. The two teams will not meet again until February 19.
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