OTTAWA, CANADA - APRIL 18: Ryan Callahan #24 of the New York Rangers celebrates his first period goal with teammate Brad Richards #19 in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Ottawa Senators during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Scotiabank Place on April 18, 2012 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

Tale of the Tape: Rangers vs Capitals

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On Saturday, the New York Rangers will host the Washington Capitals in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal (3:00 pm ET, NBC). Here’s a look at recent history between the two clubs.

Leading scorers

New York: Brad Richards (2G-3A-5PTS) | Washington: Alex Ovechkin (2G-3A-5PTS)

Starting goalies

New York: Henrik Lundqvist (4-3, 1.70 GAA) | Washington: Braden Holtby (4-3, 2.00 GAA)

Nov. 25,2011 – Rangers 6, Capitals 3. This was one of Bruce Boudreau’s final games before he was relieved of his duties as the head coach of the Washington Capitals. After a scoreless 20 minutes, the Rangers came out strong in the second period. Marian Gaborik, Artem Anisimov, and Ruslan Fedotenko each scored a goal by 7:55 of the frame.

Washington battled back with goals from Troy Brouwer and John Carlson roughly four minutes apart in the second. That narrowed the Rangers lead to just one goal, but that’s as close as the Capitals ever got.

Ryan Callahan stood out with three assists in the contest and broke a streak of being handed a penalty in four straight games.

Dec. 28, 2011 – Capitals 4, Rangers 1. Washington got a bit of revenge a month later. Alexander Semin, who was just beginning to break out of an early season funk, led the charge for the Capitals with two goals. Alex Ovechkin recorded two assists as part of his season-high seven-game point streak.

On the Rangers end, Brandon Dubinsky was the only one that managed to beat Washington goaltender Tomas Vokoun. Ryan Callahan assisted on the goal to bring him up to four points in two games against the Capitals.

Feb. 12, 2012 – Rangers 3, Capitals 2. Alexander Semin netted another goal against the Rangers, but it wasn’t enough this time around.

New York’s Brandon Dubinsky had a big game with two assists and Brandon Prust’s shorthanded goal proved to be the game-winner. Ryan Callahan provided the first goal of the game to once again be a factor against Washington.

April 7, 2012 – Capitals 4, Rangers 1. With the Capitals still fighting for playoff positioning going into the final day of the regular season, it’s not surprising that they managed to win this contest.

Washington was hot out of the gate, with early goals from Alex Ovechkin and Mathieu Perreault. John Carlson got one past Henrik Lundqvist with the man advantage to give the Capitals’ a 3-0 lead going into the first intermission.

This was the first and only time that the Rangers faced Washington goaltender Braden Holtby in the regular season. They outshot the Capitals in every period, but Holtby made 35 saves to led the Capitals to victory.

Injuries

New York: Brian Boyle (concussion), Steve Eminger (ankle), Mats Zuccarello (wrist), Michael Sauer (concussion)

Washington: Tomas Vokoun (groin)

Raanta rewards Rangers for starts over Lundqvist by blanking Blackhawks

VANCOUVER, BC - NOVEMBER 15: Goalie Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers shares a laugh with teammate Antti Raanta #32 after defeating the Vancouver Canucks 7-2 in NHL action on November 15, 2016 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
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If someone told you that the New York Rangers started a goalie on back-to-back nights, and that goalie wasn’t Henrik Lundqvist, you’d probably wonder if he was hurt or retired.

Nope. It just so happens that Antti Raanta is playing at an incredibly high level, Alain Vigneault noticed, and that decision paid dividends on Friday night. Raanta won both nights of a back-to-back, allowing a single goal (with the Rangers protecting him, being that he only needed to stop 43 of 44 shots during that span).

Raanta and the Rangers blanked the Chicago Blackhawks with a 1-0 overtime win, at least briefly climbing to first place in the massively competitive Metro Division:

1. Rangers – 39 points in 29 games played
2. Penguins- 37 points in 27 GP
3. Blue Jackets – 36 points in 25 GP
4. Capitals – 35 points in 26 GP
5. Flyers – 35 points in 29 GP

Nick Holden ended up scoring the only goal of the game:

Meanwhile, the Blackhawks lost but at least salvaged a standings point and it seems like Patrick Kane is OK after this injury scare:

Raanta improved to 7-1-0 on the season, allowing two goals or less in all but one of his appearances so far this season. That’s the kind of work you’d expect to see if you’re going sit a guy who’s, you know, a living legend.

Blue Jackets remain in thick of things in Metro on tough night for Red Wings

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 01:  Boone Jenner #38 of the Columbus Blue Jackets is congratulated by his teammates after scoring the go ahead goal against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center on December 1, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
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As the Columbus Blue Jackets keep rolling, the Detroit Red Wings are probably just happy to get Friday behind them.

For the second straight game, the Blue Jackets beat their opponent 4-1.

They’re now on a five-game winning streak, and like the climbing St. Louis Blues, things look great if you go back a little further. They’re 10-1-2 in their last 13 games and 13-2-3 since November began.

Columbus is now at 16-5-4, giving them 36 standings points. They’re once again in breathing distance of leading the Metro Division when you consider games in hand.

Update: Here’s how the standings look after the Rangers beat the Blackhawks 1-0 in overtime:

1. Rangers – 39 points in 29 games played
2. Penguins- 37 points in 27 GP
3. Blue Jackets – 36 points in 25 GP
4. Capitals – 35 points in 26 GP
5. Flyers – 35 points in 29 GP

That’s a stout division, and the Blue Jackets remain shockingly effective. Then again, with results like these over and over again, it might be time to merely expect such impressive work.

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For Detroit, it was a rough night. Jonathan Ericsson couldn’t play, Mike Green was a little banged up and Petr Mrazek was pulled for Jimmy Howard. This goal summarized some of their struggles:

Blues blaze through Devils, even in New Jersey

NEWARK, NJ - DECEMBER 09: (L-R) Brad Hunt #77, Robby Fabbri #15 and Vladimir Tarasenko #91 of the St. Louis Blues celebrate Fabri's first period goal against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on December 9, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The New Jersey Devils have been incredibly difficult to beat at home. Lately, the St. Louis Blues have been on a roll just about anywhere.

On Friday night, the Blues were the hotter team, handing the Devils their first home loss in regulation in 2016-17. And it wasn’t particularly close, with St. Louis winning 4-1.

It’s a convenient time to note that the Blues rank among the hottest teams in the NHL. Most recently, they’re 5-1-1 in their last seven games, but they’ve been especially impressive since they flirted with .500 at 7-6-3. Beginning with a 4-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Nov. 15, the Blues are on a 8-2-1 tear.

This leaves them second in the Central with a 16-8-4 record.

That’s impressive stuff.

This 4-1 win was quite the showcase for Robby Fabbri and Vladimir Tarasenko, in particular. Tarasenko collected three assists while Fabbri scored two goals on Friday night. His second goal was particularly slick:

The Blues are right in saying that this was a pretty fitting opportunity to drop a “Holy Jumpin.”

Oh yeah, don’t forget about Jake Allen, either.

Leon Draisaitl continues hot streak with silky smooth goal (Video)

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Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk has been the most difficult goalies to score against this season. Leave it to a high-level player like Leon Draisaitl to make it look this, well, “easy.”

Draisaitl scored his 13th goal of 2016-17 by capping this pretty give-and-go play with Benoit Pouliot. You can see the frustration from Dubnyk at the end of the tally, as if he was saying “How was I supposed to stop that?” (though probably with more colorful language).

Draisaitl came into Friday with five goals and three assists in his last five games, so he’s been almost unstoppable lately.

Read more about his rise here.

Update: The Wild were able to shake off that goal, ultimately beating the Oilers 3-2 via a shootout.