RANGERS (10-5-3) at CAPITALS (12-7-1)
TV: NHLN-US, MSG, CSN-MA
New York 7-2-1; Washington 4-5-1
This is the first of four meetings. These teams have battled in the first round in two of the past three postseasons, with the Capitals winning both series. However, the Rangers took three of four in the regular season in 2010-11, winning those three games by a combined 15-1.
The Rangers are coming down off a seven-game winning streak, dropping two in a row on the road. The Capitals are on the other end of the spectrum, winning two straight at home after losing four straight and six of seven.
After a 13-shot effort in a loss to the Canadiens on Saturday, the Rangers pledged to get more shots on net against the Panthers on Wednesday. Technically, they did just that, but 20 shots wasn't nearly enough in a 2-1 loss.
"You're not going to win too many games when you score one goal," defenseman Michael Del Zotto
told the Daily News.
The Rangers are last in the League at 25.1 shots per game.
It's been a season of streaks for the Caps. They won seven straight to start the season, then went into a funk where they lost six of seven. But they've now won two straight after Jason Chimera
's OT goal Wednesday that beat the Jets 4-3.
The Caps blew one-goal leads three times in the game, but still found a way to escape with two points against a division rival that was on a three-game winning streak.
"It was tough," coach Bruce Boudreau said, "because every time we scored, they came back. It takes a lot of, I don't know if the word is intestinal fortitude, character or whatever, to keep coming back."
Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist
has allowed 7 goals in his past four games, stopping 130 of 137 shots. … Chimera has 2 goals and 2 assists in his last four games for the Caps.
The Rangers lack any new injuries, but Marc Staal
(concussion) is traveling with the team on this road trip. No timetable has been given for his return. … Defenseman Mike Green
(groin) hasn't skated since Nov. 11, so he won't be back for this game. John Erskine
(shoulder) did not play Wednesday and should be considered day-to-day.
The Rangers are 9-1-0 when scoring first and 1-4-3 when they don't. The Capitals, however, are defying logic by going 4-4-1 when scoring first and 8-3-0 when allowing the first goal.
"I've just always had it, was just going to wait until my late or mid-30s to get it going, you know. I don't want to peak too early. I want to keep playing until I'm 45 so hopefully I keep on getting better." -- Jason Chimera, 32, joking to the Washington Post about his 8 goals to start this season