With literally nothing to gain or lose when it comes to their playoff positioning or opposition, the New York Rangers are letting their stars get some rest in our nation’s capital.
They’ll rest against another playoff-bound team, the Presidents’ Trophy-leading Washington Capitals at Verizon Center (8:00, NBCSN). Captain Ryan McDonagh will rest for the third straight game, as will Rick Nash, Mats Zuccarello, and Jesper Fast.
The Rangers (47-26-6) recently clinched their third consecutive 100-point season, doing so with a 4-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday night. After falling behind 1-0, the Rangers put in four unanswered goals, two each in the second and third periods. Of note, Mika Zibanejad scored on the power play, Brendan Smith scored his first goal as a Ranger, and Chris Kreider took the team lead with his 28th of the season. With the win, the Rangers officially eliminated the Flyers from playoff contention. The win also locked them into the East’s top wild card spot, signaling an oncoming first-round playoff series with the Montreal Canadiens, the Atlantic Division champions.
Meanwhile, Washington (53-18-8) will clinch their second consecutive Presidents’ Trophy with a win or a Pittsburgh loss of any kind. They helped their case with a 4-1 win over Toronto. Four different Capitals scored, while Philipp Grubauer made 27 saves in victory.
This will be the fourth and final meeting between the longtime rivals, at least in the regular season. The Rangers have taken two of three thus far, though Washington won the last match at Madison Square Garden in a 4-1 final. Marcus Johansson had two goals for the Caps, while Brady Skjei had the lone Ranger goal. The last meeting at Verizon Center took place all the way back in October, where Jimmy Vesey had two goals in a 4-2 win.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490