Capitals-Rangers Preview

After getting back in the win column, the Washington Capitals

will try to keep heading in the right direction by adding to the

New York Rangers’ woes at home.

A familiar nemesis, however, will be in the net.

Henrik Lundqvist seeks to extend his shutout streak over the

Capitals and lead the Rangers to their second win in seven games at

Madison Square Garden on Sunday night.

The Capitals (15-12-2) bounced back from their only loss in the

last four games – 4-1 to Carolina on Tuesday – with a 5-2 victory

over Nashville on Saturday. Washington jumped on the Predators with

three goals in the first 16:19, including Alex Ovechkin’s

league-leading 22nd of the season.

“We talked before the game (and said), just get pucks to the net

and crash and get some rebounds and try to get a greasy one. It

worked out,” forward Eric Fehr said.

The Rangers (15-14-1), meanwhile, couldn’t hold a two-goal lead

in a 4-3 overtime loss to visiting New Jersey on Saturday.

Lundqvist was playing his first home game since signing a

seven-year contract extension worth $59.5 million Wednesday.

New York dropped to 11-1-1 when leading after two periods and

14-2-1 when scoring first, but stayed within one point of

Washington for second place in the Metropolitan Division.

“It’s a big point,” Lundqvist said of the overtime loss. “We

never gave up, so that’s a good sign. We just didn’t get the

bounces.”

Lundqvist will try to help his team bounce back by recording a

fourth consecutive shutout against Washington, a streak that

includes the final two games in last season’s opening round of the

playoffs. New York won that series in seven games.

Lundqvist also stopped 22 shots in a 2-0 victory in Washington

on Oct. 16 and helped the Rangers improve to 3-0-1 in the last four

regular-season matchups. The Rangers star netminder, though, might

not have Marc Staal to help him out.

The defenseman left Saturday’s game after he was hit in the head

by the arm of New Jersey’s Reid Boucher in the third period. Staal

missed a good portion of last season after getting hit in the right

eye with a deflected puck and sat out 36 games with concussion-like

symptoms in 2011-12.

“He didn’t feel quite right so they’re evaluating him. We’ll

have an update (Sunday),” coach Alain Vigneault said. “If for

whatever reason he’s not there, we’ve got some guys that have

wanted an opportunity to get more ice time and a bigger role. It’s

going to be there for them.”

Washington is 2-0-1 in its last three road games after going

3-5-1 away from home to start this season. Ovechkin has scored in

each of the last three road contests but he has one goal and one

assist in his last six visits to MSG, including the playoffs.

He has two goals and two assists in his last 12 overall

regular-season and playoff matchups, and Nicklas Backstrom and Mike

Green have one assist apiece in their last five.

Derick Brassard has two goals and eight assists during a

six-game point streak against Washington that includes the

postseason.

Ovechkin, who tallied his NHL-best ninth power-play goal

Saturday, needs one more power-play score to match Peter Bondra’s

franchise record of 137.