Washington (39-11-7) at NY Rangers (37-19-1)
When: Sunday, February 19th 2017
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Time: 12:35 ET | TV: NBC
The Washington Capitals look to maintain the NHL’s best mark when they visit the New York Rangers on Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden in New York. Washington came back last night from their mandatory week-long break and earned a point in their seventh straight contest in a 3-2 shootout loss at Detroit. The Capitals became only the fifth team among the first 16 who took their mandatory bye week to earn a point (3-11-2). Nicklas Backstrom (team-high 61 points) ran his point streak to eight games (four goals, 10 assists) as he recorded his 44th assist of the season on Saturday. The break also did not affect Daniel Winnik (eight goals), who scored in the Capitals’ 6-4 victory over Anaheim on February 11th and tied Saturday’s game with 4:48 left in regulation. Forward Zach Stanford scored his second career goal Saturday and was a +1, bringing his rating to even and leaving Paul Carey (-2 in three games) as the only player with a minus rating to appear for Washington this season. Justin Williams (18 goals, 32 points) is one assist shy of 400 for his career. The Capitals’ power play was 6-for-16 in its first six February games before going 0-for-5 on Saturday.
The Rangers also come in hot, having their six-game winning streak snapped on Thursday in a 4-2 loss at the Islanders. The Rangers start the day 10 points behind the first-place Capitals and four back of third-place Columbus in the Metropolitan Division, but hold a double-digit lead for one of the two wild-card spots. Jimmy Vesey scored in each of the last two games giving him 14 in this his rookie season. Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist lost for the first time in six February starts on Thursday, lowering his save percentage to .937 for the month. The Rangers won the first of four meetings this season with the Capitals 4-2 on October 22nd in Washington after rallying from a 2-0 deficit behind two Vesey goals and 26 saves from Lundqvist. J.T. Miller (18 goals) had his seven-game point streak (two goals, nine assists) snapped Thursday, but still leads the team with 46 points. Kevin Hayes (15 goals, 42 points) saw his four-game steak (two goals, five assists) come to an end as well. Michael Grabner leads New York with 26 goals but hasn’t scored in the last three games after scoring four times in the previous three games. Defenseman Kevin Klein (three goals, 14 points, +7 rating) missed Thursday’s game because of illness but practiced Saturday and is expected to play Sunday.
Right now, both teams are playing at a very high level, but the edge today has to go with the Rangers being at home and the Capitals just playing last night. This could be a preview of an exciting playoff series later this spring.
Pick: Rangers ML
HEAD TO HEAD