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Capitals conclude trip in New York

by Brian Compton

CAPITALS (5-8-1) at RANGERS (7-5-1)


Last 10: Washington 5-5-0; New York 6-3-1.

Season series: This is the first of three meetings. They last faced each other in the second round of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, which the Rangers won in seven games.

Big story: Washington is showing signs of improvement after a horrid start under new coach Adam Oates. The Capitals enter Sunday's action having won three straight to move within three games of the .500 mark. The Rangers have also overcome a slow start to move over .500.

Team Scope:

Capitals: Washington concludes a three-game road trip with its visit to Madison Square Garden. The Caps made it 2-for-2 with Thursday's 4-3 win against the Lightning at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. It wasn't easy, though - the Caps cruised out to a 4-1 lead before the Lightning nearly rallied to tie it.

"You obviously have to use it as a learning curve," Oates said. "We obviously did a lot of good things to make it 4-1 and made a mistake to make it 4-2. We didn't protect the puck as we should have on their end and we gave a guy a breakaway, which we shouldn't have."

Rangers: New York's past two games have required shootouts. The Rangers raced out to a 2-0 lead against the Islanders on Thursday night, but were unable to hang on in a 4-3 loss at MSG.

The Blueshirts also held a 3-0 lead against the Boston Bruins on Tuesday, only to see it slip away. They did manage to win the breakaway competition to secure the second point.

"I don't think it's a concern," defenseman Marc Staal said of the blown leads. "I think it's just a mental focus and making sure that you can't take shifts off. You take one or two off and they get the momentum."

Who's hot: Caps winger Troy Brouwer has four goals in the past three games. Two of them have come on the power play. … Rangers forward Carl Hagelin has also lit the lamp four times in the past three contests.

Injury report: The Capitals have been without Brooks Laich (groin), but he has been cleared for contact in practice. Jack Hillen (upper body) and Dmitry Orlov (upper body) are still out. ... Rangers winger Rick Nash (undisclosed) did not skate Saturday but is expected to play.

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