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Preview: Rangers Host Ovechkin and the Capitals

Two Lineup Changes for Sunday's Game

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia / NYRangers.com

The Rangers return home to take on the Eastern Conference-leading Washington Capitals Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.

New York is coming off a 4-2 loss to the New York Islanders Thursday night in Brooklyn, which put an end to the Blueshirts' six-game winning streak. Nick Holden and Jimmy Vesey each scored while Henrik Lundqvist finished the night with 19 saves.

Now the focus shifts to the Washington Capitals and - as has been for more than a decade - Alex Ovechkin.

Lundqvist, who will get the start in goal for the Rangers, said Saturday that Ovechkin has been Washington's biggest threat since both players arrived on the scene for the 2005-06 campaign. 

"Tomorrow we face a guy that ever since I got here he's been one of the best to go after it," Lundqvist said of Ovechkin. "He plays physical and he likes to score."

With that said, though, No. 30 said what makes the Capitals a successful team is that while Ovechkin is the team's biggest offensive weapon, he isn't the only player the Rangers must worry about.

In fact, Ovechkin isn't Washington's most productive player, as Nicklas Backstrom leads the team with 61 points this season, 10 ahead of The Great 8. Washington has five players, including Backstrom and Ovechkin, with at least 40 points this season.

"I think that team, why they're successful, they don't rely on [Ovechkin], but obviously he's a big piece," Lundqvist said. "They have a lot of guys playing really well this year and last year as well. You have to play a really strong team game, defensively and offensively, to have a chance to win against them. A good test playing at home and try to win there right away."

Sunday's game marks just the second meeting between these Metropolitan Division rivals, with the Rangers skating to a 4-2 win in first meeting back on Oct. 22.

There may have been nearly four months between games, but Lundqvist said the Rangers know the Capitals well enough to know what type of challenge awaits them at The Garden.

"We haven't seen them that much, but I feel like they're similar to last year," Lundqvist said. "Very confident, they have four lines going really well for them. Special teams are good. They've just been very consistent. It's going to be a good test for us. We've had some good battles with them over the last few years. I think we all look forward to it." 

Washington is coming off a 3-2 shootout loss to the Detroit Red Wings Saturday afternoon. They're 7-2-1 in their last 10 and currently sit five points ahead of Pittsburgh for the division lead.

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Pavel Buchnevich will return to the lineup after being a healthy scratch Thursday in Brooklyn. He'll replace Matt Puempel on a line with Oscar Lindberg and Jesper Fast.

Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault said he felt Buchnevich played "pretty good" with Lindberg and Fast Monday in Columbus.

Kevin Klein will also return to the lineup after missing Thursday's game due to an illness. He will be paired with Brady Skjei. Adam Clendening will be a healthy scratch.

Expected Lineup

Jimmy Vesey - Derek Stepan - Rick Nash

Chris Kreider -Mika Zibanejad - Mats Zuccarello

Michael Grabner - Kevin Hayes - J.T. Miller

Pavel Buchnevich - Oscar Lindberg - Jesper Fast

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi

Marc Staal - Nick Holden

Brady Skjei - Kevin Klein

Henrik Lundqvist

Antti Raanta

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