NEW YORK -- They didn't want to actually come out and call it the biggest game of the season to date, but it's hard to find a game on the New York Rangers schedule that has been bigger than the one they will play Tuesday at Madison Square Garden against the Washington Capitals.
"It's hard to say, but it is an important game," Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist said. "We're playing a team that is right there with us."
The Capitals should feel the same way considering where each team is in the standings, the hot streak both teams have been on, the rivalry that has blossomed from four meetings in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the past six seasons, and the fact that their three-day holiday break begins after the game is over.
Washington enters the Garden with a two-point lead on the Rangers for third place in the Metropolitan Division. The Rangers have two games in hand, but Washington has one more regulation/overtime victory.
The Capitals have won three consecutive games and have points in nine straight (7-0-2); the Rangers have won six games in a row.