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Rangers Head to D.C. to Face the Capitals

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia /

The Rangers will be without four of its regulars Wednesday when they head to Washington to battle the NHL-leading Capitals at Verizon Center.

Ryan McDonagh, Rick Nash, Mats Zuccarello and Jesper Fast are all day-to-day, according to coach Alain Vigneault, and thus will be unavailable for Wednesday's contest. The bench boss said they're all dealing with "bumps and bruises," though none of the injuries are serious enough to threaten their readiness for the playoffs, which begin next week.

The Blueshirts are coming off a 4-3 win Sunday night over the Philadelphia Flyers. Zuccarello led the way with three assists that night, while Henrik Lundqvist turned aside 20 shots for his 31st win of the season.

It'll be Lundqvist making his fifth straight start Wednesday night for the Rangers. He is 21-10-4 with four shutouts all-time against Washington, and 12-4-2 in his last 18 appearances against the Capitals dating back to Dec. 12, 2010.

New York comes into Wednesday's contest with 27 road wins, which is tops in the NHL and one behind their franchise record set back in 2014-15, when the team won the Presidents' Trophy. The Rangers have won eight of their last 12 games away from The Garden.

Wednesday is the fourth and final meeting between the Rangers and Capitals, with New York winning the first two before Washington scored a victory in the last back on Feb. 28 at The Garden. Nash leads the Rangers with three points while Lundqvist has a .929 SV% in those games.

The Capitals enter Wednesday's contest red-hot with eight wins in their last 10 games, including a 4-1 victory Tuesday night in Toronto. Their 114 points are tops in the NHL.

Nicklas Backstrom is having an MVP-caliber season with 85 points in 79 games, including 62 assists, which trails just Edmonton's Connor McDavid for the most in the NHL. Alex Ovechkin has 33 goals, continuing his streak of 30-plus goal seasons that dates back to his rookie season of 2005-06.

Backstrom and Ovechkin's linemate, T.J. Oshie, has 33 goals of his own, which is his career-best.

Goaltender Braden Holtby is expected to get the start after backup Philipp Grubauer won Tuesday night in Toronto. Holtby is a favorite to win the Vezina Trophy with a record of 41-12-6 with a .924 SV%, a 2.11 GAA and eight shutouts.

Recent history has been on New York's side in this Metropolitan Division rivalry, with the Blueshirts earning at least one point in 18 of their last 26 games against the Capitals dating back to Dec. 12, 2010.

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