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game recap

Capitals get Presidents' Trophy, top seed in playoffs

Shut out Rangers to wrap up Metropolitan Division

by Katie Brown / NHL.com Correspondent

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Capitals clinched the Presidents' Trophy, first place in the Eastern Conference, and the Metropolitan Division title for a second consecutive season when they defeated the New York Rangers 2-0 at Verizon Center on Wednesday.

"It means we're the best team in the season," Washington captain Alex Ovechkin said. "But the most important season is coming soon. I think we went in the right way. I think everybody is focusing, everybody is playing the right direction. You can see we played solid games against [the Columbus Blue Jackets], Toronto [Maple Leafs] and the Rangers. Maybe we're going to see them in the future, but for us, we just have to continue to play the way we played today in those games."

Washington will have home-ice advantage for as long as it remains in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Its first-round opponent has not been determined.

 

WATCH: All Rangers vs. Capitals highlights

 

Braden Holtby made 24 saves for his NHL-leading ninth shutout and 42nd win, and Justin Williams and Evgeny Kuznetsov scored for Washington (54-18-8).

Video: Holtby earns Wednesday's Pepsi Zero Sugar Shutout

Henrik Lundqvist made 23 saves for New York (47-27-6), which will be the first wild card from the Eastern Conference and play the Montreal Canadiens in the first round.

The Rangers played without several regulars: forwards Rick Nash, Mats Zuccarello, Jesper Fast and defensemen Ryan McDonagh and Brady Skjei, who are being rested until the playoffs begin.

"We [had] six guys out of the lineup that are key pieces," New York forward Derek Stepan said. "It was definitely a different feel out there. But I thought our first period was a real strong period."

Video: NYR@WSH: Lundqvist extends his pad to rob Ovechkin

Williams scored a power-play goal at 14:49 of the second period to make it 1-0, his 23rd goal of the season.

Kuznetsov made it 2-0 at 5:42 of the third period with his 19th goal, scored on an odd-man rush with Marcus Johansson.

"This was going to be a tough one coming home from a long road trip," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "I thought we got stronger. The first (period) was so-so. I thought we got stronger and stronger, and I thought we managed it much better in the second and third."

 
Goal of the game

Williams redirected Ovechkin's shot in front of the net with his leg.

Video: NYR@WSH: Williams pots the opener with PPG

 
Save of the game

Lundqvist stopped T.J. Oshie's shot from the slot with a pad save in the first period.

Video: NYR@WSH: Lundqvist turns away Oshie with pad stop

 
Highlight of the game

Johansson fed Kuznetsov on a 2-on-1 and beat Lundqvist glove-side.

Video: NYR@WSH: Johansson, Kuznetsov connect for nifty goal

 
Unsung moment of the game

Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik blocked J.T. Miller's shot in the third period in a sequence that led to a goal off an odd-man rush.

 

They said it

"The only nice thing about the Presidents' Trophy right now is that we [win] our division. The other stuff doesn't really matter, just the way it played out. We have two more games and that's to feed off these last three and go into the playoffs in the right frame of mind feeling good about our game." -- Capitals goalie Braden Holtby

 

"It's a good confidence boost, I think, but that's the first goal we had for the year and now we just focus on the next one. This is just a part of the big thing we want to do here, and now we've just got to keep moving on and keep getting better and be at our best when it comes down to it in the postseason." -- Capitals forward Marcus Johansson on winning the Presidents' Trophy

 

"It was a little different feel obviously in the locker room. You're going to notice that. There's no question. If you can't tell a difference when that many good players are gone, something's up." -- Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist on playing without six regulars

 
Need to know

Capitals defenseman John Carlson missed his second game with a lower-body injury. … Washington also won the Presidents' Trophy in 2009-10. ... The last Presidents' Trophy winner to win the Stanley Cup following a full season was the 2007-08 Detroit Red Wings (the Chicago Blackhawks won both in the shortened 2012-13 season). The Capitals have never won the Stanley Cup. ... The last team to win the Presidents' Trophy in consecutive seasons was the Vancouver Canucks (2010-11, 2010-12). ... The Capitals have 236 points in the past two seasons, one behind the Detroit Red Wings for the most in successive seasons (2005-06, 2006-07) since the shootout was adopted in 2005-06, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. ... Holtby is 42-12-6.

 
What's next

Rangers: At the Ottawa Senators on Saturday (12:30 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, MSG, RDS, NHL.TV)

Capitals: At the Boston Bruins on Saturday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, NHL.TV)

 

Video: Williams, Holtby help Caps seal Presidents' Trophy

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