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Capitals-Rangers Preview

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Capitals-Rangers Preview

GAME: Washington Capitals (8-13-1) at New York Rangers (15-7-3).

TIME: Saturday, 8 p.m. EST.

The New York Rangers take their longest winning streak in about 3 1/2 years into a matchup with the Washington Capitals at Madison Square Garden.

Jaromir Jagr notched his league-leading 21st goal and 39th point of the season to lead the Rangers to a 6-3 win over the Atlanta Thrashers on Thursday.

It was the fourth consecutive victory for the Atlantic Division-leading Rangers, marking their best win streak since a five-game run in April 2002.

Jagr has three goals and seven assists during this win streak, while linemate Michael Nylander has tallied three goals and five assists.

"The confidence is here," said Jagr, who joined the Rangers from the Capitals in a January 2004 trade. "You can feel it. We've beaten some good teams. The confidence is building."

Each of New York's eight goals in the last two games have come at even strength as the power play has gone 0-for-11.

Goaltender Kevin Weekes left Thursday's game in the third period with a right ankle bruise when the net fell on him, and was replaced by Henrik Lundqvist. Weekes, whose status for this contest is uncertain, has split playing time this season with Lundqvist.

Whichever goalie is net for New York will be looking to extend rookie standout Alexander Ovechkin's drought. The Capitals leading scorer has no goals in a season-high three straight games.

Ovechkin does have an assist in each of his last two games and he ranks second among rookies with 23 points, four behind Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby.

Ovechkin, though, did not get off a shot for the first time in his NHL career on Wednesday in a 4-3 shootout loss to Tampa Bay.

The Capitals blew a three-goal lead to the defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning for their second loss in as many days.

"We blew a 3-0 lead but we did a good job once it was 3-3, killing off a couple penalties," Washington's Jeff Halpern said. "We had our chance in the overtime and in the shootout to put it away, but to be up 3-0 and lose is the most disappointing thing."

Washington has a 3-1-1 record against the Rangers since dealing Jagr to New York, with all five games being decided by one goal.

Jagr has two goals and two assists against his former team in a Rangers uniform, but has 70 total points against Washington in his career.

STANDINGS (through Nov. 25): Capitals - 17 points, 5th place, 14 PB, Southeast Division. Rangers - 33 points, 1st place, Atlantic Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Capitals - Ovechkin, 15 goals and 23 points; Halpern, 13 assists; Brendan Witt, 68 PIM. Rangers - Jagr, 21 goals and 39 points; Martin Straka, 21 assists; Darius Kasparaitis, 34 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Nov. 25): Capitals - Power play: 12.6 percent (15 for 119), 28th in NHL. Penalty killing: 79.1 percent (133 for 168), 27th. Rangers - Power play: 17.5 percent (26 for 148), 17th. Penalty killing: 85.8 percent (139 for 162), 3rd.

GOALTENDERS: Capitals - Olaf Kolzig (7-8-1, 0 SO, 3.62 GAA); Brent Johnson (1-4-0, 5.34). Rangers - Lundqvist (8-3-2, 1, 2.08); Weekes (7-4-1, 2.79).

SEASON SERIES: Capitals, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Oct. 10; Capitals, 3-2. At Washington, Ovechkin scored the game-winner in the third period and Kolzig made 30 saves.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Capitals - 2-9-0 on the road; Rangers - 7-2-2 at home.


Associated Press
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