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Struggling Caps head to Big Apple

by Dan Rosen /
CAPITALS (18-10-3) at RANGERS (17-13-1)


Last 10: Washington 4-5-1; New York 6-4-0

Season series: This is the second meeting between the clubs this season. The Capitals beat the Rangers, 5-3, at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 9. Brooks Laich had 2 goals and 1 assist.

Big Story -- Will a trip to the Big Apple at holiday time bring the Capitals' some cheer? They need it. Washington has lost five in a row (0-4-1) heading into Sunday night's game and has seen its lead in the Southeast Division dwindle to just four points. The Garden has been kind to the Capitals in recent years. They're 6-1-1 (including the playoffs) in the old building since 2008-09. 

Team Scope:

Capitals -- It's been 11 days since Washington's last win. Since then the Capitals have lost to Dallas, Atlanta, Toronto, Florida and Colorado by a combined 16-8. They've scored the first goal in only one of their last five games. Alexander Semin hasn't scored in six straight games, and Saturday night he got the boot after cross checking John-Michael Liles. Nicklas Backstrom and Brooks Laich are both goalless in the last five. Mike Green, who sat out Saturday's loss to Colorado, has no goals and just one assist in the last 10 games. That's nearly a month's worth of games and one of the League's top offensive defensemen has 1 point to show for it.

However, Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau, who ripped into his team following a 3-0 loss to Florida on Thursday, saw the effort and desire he was hoping for Saturday. Washington got off 42 shots and scored twice on the power play, perhaps a sign that its fortunes are turning.

"We're going to build off this and go," Boudreau said. "It's a different feeling in the room. There's disappointment because you gave the effort and didn't come away with (a win). But I'm hoping other than the two points, they're taking a positive aspect out of this game."

Rangers -- They're 3-3 in their last six games and coming off a 3-1 loss at Columbus on Saturday. Rick Nash scored twice within a span of 3:57 late in the third period to send the Rangers home disappointed. Nash scored the go-ahead goal with 5:09 to play and then the insurance goal with 1:12 left. The go-ahead goal was of the fluky variety. He lost the puck into the right corner, but still managed to fire it toward the net while spinning around. The puck hit off of Henrik Lundqvist's skate and went in. Nash beat Lundqvist on a breakaway to cap the scoring. The loss snapped the Rangers four-game road winning streak. The problem is they're only 6-8-1 at home.

Just like Boudreau was after the Capitals loss Saturday, Rangers coach John Tortorella praised his team's effort.

"I thought we played well and it was probably one of our better games the past few weeks," he said. "We played our (butts) off, but came up empty. It's frustrating."

Who's Hot -- Caps forward Mike Knuble had a goal and an assist Saturday night. He has 3 goals in the last five games. Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky has points in the last two games and 5 in the last four.

Injury Report -- Green's status will be updated closer to game time. He sat out Saturday's game with the flu. The Rangers definitely won't have Chris Drury and Vinny Prospal, though both are not far away from returning. Steve Eminger (back) and Derek Boogaard (shoulder) sat out Saturday's game as well.

Stat Pack -- The Capitals' five-game losing streak is their longest since November of 2007. That cost then coach Glen Hanlon his job.

Puck Drop -- "To come up empty after an effort like that, we've just got to move by it and bring the good things into the Washington game because that's a very good club," Tortorella said before leaving Columbus. "We can't worry about this now. We have to move on to the next one."
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