National Hockey League
Rangers-Capitals Preview
National Hockey League

Rangers-Capitals Preview

Updated Mar. 4, 2020 4:44 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON -- Even as they were rolling to 120 points and the Presidents' Trophy last season, the Washington Capitals had stretches where they started games slowly, falling behind early before rallying.

This season they're starting strong and finishing strong.

Washington (3-0-1) scored first in each of its four games and has yet to allow a third period goal. The Capitals overcame a sluggish second period and scored twice in the third for a 4-2 win at Florida on Thursday to earn their third straight victory.

"I think in the first we said, "let's do it the right way,'" coach Barry Trotz said. "'Let's get on their defense.' That's the way you have to do it in this league, you have to put some pressure on their back end."


Washington will try to continue its strong play on Saturday, when it hosts a New York Rangers team that started very fast in its last game.

The Rangers scored 69 seconds in and outshot Detroit 33-18, but Jimmy Howard was perfect the rest of the way -- including stopping three breakaways -- as the Red Wings rallied for a 2-1 win on Wednesday night.

New York (2-2) scored 15 goals in its first four games, led by Chris Kreider's three goals and four assists. Mika Zibanejad owns two goals and three assists.

"I like our process. I like the way we're playing," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said Wednesday. "We're not giving up much to the opposition and we're definitely generating some Grade A opportunities."

New York's offensive task won't get any easier Saturday night against Vezina Trophy winner Braden Holtby and a Washington defense that's allowed six goals in four games.

"They're a good team with a lot of skill and it's going to be a good test for us," New York's Jimmy Vesey told Madison Square Garden network. "Their forward group is extremely skilled and Holtby's one of the best goaltenders in the league."

The Rangers have had some success against the Washington goalie. For his career, Holtby is 6-8-1 with a 2.69 goals-against average versus New York.

In 44 games against the Rangers, Alex Ovechkin, who has two goals this season including the go-ahead tally Thursday night, has 27 goals and 15 assists. Justin Williams has 28 points in 35 games against New York and Nicklas Backstrom has 23 assists in 35 games.

Williams picked up his first goal of the season against the Panthers and the first for the Capitals' third line, which also includes newcomers Lars Eller and Zach Stanford.

"We've gotten better marginally every game we've played," Williams said. "We're talking a little bit more, we're supporting a little bit more, we're getting to know each other a little bit more."

Saturday's game marks Washington's fourth in five contests against teams -- including New York -- that notched at least 100 points last season.

"I think we usually, in terms of last year I guess, play better against good teams it seems," Holtby said. "There's a lot of depth in the Eastern Conference this year. There's a lot of good teams."

Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist is 19-9-4, with a 2.65 goals against versus the Capitals, while Rick Nash has 10 goals and 12 assists in 22 games.

Washington was 3-2 against the Rangers last season, including an overtime win.


Get more from National Hockey League Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more