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Raanta starts for Rangers against Capitals

New York No. 1 Henrik Lundqvist out with neck spasms

by Katie Brown / Correspondent

RANGERS (37-21-6) at CAPITALS (47-12-4)

TV: 7 p.m. ET; NHLN, SNE, SNO, SNP, MSG 2, CSN-DC+

. -- Goaltender Antti Raanta is expected to start for the New York Rangers against the Washington Capitals on Friday.

Starting goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was injured Thursday in a 4-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. He left the game after the second period with neck spasms. 

Coach Alain Vigneault said Thursday he didn't think the injury was serious, but Magnus Hellberg, who was recalled from Hartford of the American Hockey League on an emergency basis Friday, is expected to back up Raanta.

"He's played pretty well lately, so we'll just have to make sure we're getting traffic, make sure we're putting pucks to the net and not getting too cute," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "I don't think the way we'll play the Rangers will change with Raanta in the net versus Lundqvist. We'll just have to do the same things."

Capitals defenseman Nate Schmidt will not play against the Rangers.

It will be the second consecutive game Schmidt has missed with a lower-body injury. He did not play in the 3-2 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday. The Capitals visit the Boston Bruins Saturday.

"He's fine," Trotz said of Schmidt. "I could see him in the lineup [Saturday]. You're either hurt or injured. Right now he's hurt."

The Capitals are 6-2-0 in their past eight games, which have all been decided by one goal. Six of the past eight games have had a score of 3-2, and nine of Washington's past 15 games (12-3-0) have had that same score.

Washington has utilized timely late-game scoring to win this season. The Capitals have outscored opponents 83-50 in the third period this season -- which leads the NHL -- and have scored in the third in 27 of the past 28 games.

"You're not going to have 82 games where you play three really good periods," forward Nicklas Backstrom said. "We're still winning, but also we want to play a little better. We know we have to play better if we want to be successful in the playoffs. That's something we talk about every day and we're trying to progress." 
Here are the projected lineups: 


Chris Kreider - Derek Stepan - Mats Zuccarello

J.T. Miller - Derick Brassard - Jesper Fast

Viktor Stalberg - Eric Staal - Kevin Hayes

Tanner Glass - Dominic Moore - Oscar Lindberg

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi

Keith Yandle - Kevin Klein

Dan Boyle - Marc Staal  

Antti Raanta  

Magnus Hellberg
Injured: Rick Nash (bone bruise), Henrik Lundqvist (neck spasms)

Scratched: Dylan McIlrath

Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie

Andre Burakovsky - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Justin Williams  

Jason Chimera - Marcus Johansson - Tom Wilson

Daniel Winnik - Mike Richards - Jay Beagle

Matt Niskanen - Karl Alzner

Brooks Orpik - Dmitry Orlov

Mike Weber - Taylor Chorney

Braden Holtby

Philipp Grubauer
Injured: John Carlson (lower body), Nate Schmidt (lower body)

Scratched: Stanislav Galiev, Michael Latta

Status update: Marc Staal is expected to return after missing one game with the flu.

Who's hot: Backstrom has six points in six games. … Oshie has four points in two games. … McDonagh has three points in three games. … Zuccarello has two points in two games.

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