Henrik Lundqvist

Get your game notes: Rangers at Caps

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Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Washington Capitals hosting the New York Rangers on Rivalry Night at 8 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

TOP STORYLINES

• At a glance in the Metro: No division has less separation between its top 4 teams than the Metropolitan. After the Rangers 2-1 win at NYI last night, NYR can take sole possession of the division – and Eastern Conference – lead tonight with a win. In addition, with a win AND an ANA regulation loss, the Rangers would become 1st in the NHL. WSH has a 4-point lead on #2WC BOS, but PIT is also within reach for 3rd in the division.

• In addition, WSH and NYR have 3 matchups remaining this season (including tonight).

• Winning with Cam: When Henrik Lundqvist began to miss time starting on Feb. 4 (though injured initially on Jan. 31), the Rangers’ 2 goalies had a combined 32 games of NHL experience– all from backup Cam Talbot. After last night’s win vs. NYI, the team is now 12-2-3 in King Henrik’s absence.

• Talbot has started 16 of those 17 total Ranger games, including his current run of 8 straight, putting up very impressive numbers in that stretch:

• Talbot stopped 29 of 30 shots last night. He has only started games on back-to-back days once in this stretch with Lundqvist out. He allowed 3 goals each against NSH and DAL last month, posting an 0-1-1 record in those games.

• There is still no concrete update on Lundqvist’s status other than him
continuing to skate and work out on his own.

• Caps coming off big win: This is the 3rd of a 5 game home stand for WSH (1-1-0 record), though the Caps enter tonight after a 3-day break between games. WSH is coming off its most lopsided victory of the season – a 6-1 defeat of BUF on Sat. They have now won 3 of their 4 gms in March after closing out Feb. with 3 straight losses.

• The Caps set season-bests for shots on goal (45), shots against (17), and margin of victory (5) while going 2-for-3 on the PP and a perfect 3-for-3 on the PK against the Sabres. Coach Barry Trotz gave the team two days off following the win. He also indicated that the break could help the Caps gear up for the stretch run and improve their position in the Metro: “There’s teams that are chasing us a little bit…so we’re not out of the woods there…But our focus has to be, when we come back, let’s look at the teams that we could catch now and see if we can jump over a couple of them. I think there’s enough time and I think we’re a good enough team to do that.” – Trotz, following the win vs. BUF

• Ovechkin and Nash: This game will feature the top 2 goal scorers in the NHL. Alex Ovechkin (44 goals) is the 2-time defending Rocket Richard Trophy winner (4-time winner overall), while Rick Nash (39 goals) took home his only goal-scoring title in 2003-04 (scored a career-high 41 goals, shared award w/ 2 others).

• In the only prior meeting this season between WSH and NYR (at MSG), Nash had a hat trick and Ovechkin scored a PPG in NYR’s 4-2 win.

RANGERS TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• Rick Nash scored the game-winning goal vs. NYI last night (also assisted on NYR’s first goal). He leads the NHL in even-strength goals (30), is t-1st in short-handed goals (4), and is t-2nd in game-winning goals (8).

• Nash is 1 goal away from his 3rd career 40-goal season. His previous 2 were both w/ CBJ: 40 in 2008-09 and a career-high 41 in 2003-04 when he won the Rocket Richard Trophy (shared w/ Ilya Kovalchuk and Jarome Iginla).

• Derick Brassard (also a CBJ 1st-round pick – 6th overall in 2006) centers Rick Nash on the top line. Since the beginning of February, Brassard has made in impact with 17 points (2G-15A) in 18 games.

• Trade deadline acquisition Keith Yandle was Arizona’s leading scorer (41 pts) before the trade. In four games for the Rangers, Yandle has 0 points in 19:03 TOI.

• Yandle has not yet sparked the Rangers 14th-ranked power play (18.3%) as hoped. Since the trade, the team is 1-for-10 on the PP.

• Mats Zuccarello has responded well since agreeing to a 4-yr/18M extension last week. He has assists in all 4 games since (5 total), including the primary helper on Kevin Hayes’ game-tying goal last night.

• On Sunday, Hayes played at United Center for the first time. The 22-year-old was a 1st-round pick (24th overall) by Chicago in 2010, but he did not sign with the Hawks and instead played 4 years at Boston College. Hayes signed with the Rangers over the summer. Then, yesterday, Hayes continued his strong rookie season with an impressive individual effort to tie the game at 1 – his 13th goal of the season.

CAPITALS TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• The Caps have at least 1 power play goal in all 4 March games so far (5-for-8 overall). The team ranks 2nd in the NHL overall with a 24.9% success rate. Alex Ovechkin leads the league with 20 power play goals.

• The Capitals acquired Curtis Glencross from Calgary for a 2015 2nd and 3rd-round pick at the trade deadline. Glencross has been an immediate fit on a line with Jay Beagle and Troy Brouwer, in addition to getting time on the PP.

• Glencross had 3 points (1G-2A) vs. BUF, his first 3-point game since March 22 of last season.

• He now has 4 points (2G-2A) in the 3 games since being traded.

• “I was excited for the new challenge.” – Glencross, on coming to WSH

• Alex Ovechkin (44 goals) & Nicklas Backstrom (51 assists) lead the league in those respective categories. They are also t-2nd in the league with 69 points (John Tavares leads w/ 72).

• With 2 assists vs. BUF, Backstrom tied Michal Pivonka on the franchise’s all-time assists list with 418. Ovi is 3rd (417).

• No two teammates have more points this season than Ovechkin & Backstrom (138).

• The last time two teammates finished 1-2 in the scoring race in a full season was in 1995-96, when Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr (PIT), accomplished the feat (Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis were 1-2 in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season for TB).

• Ovi is the frontrunner for a 5th Rocket Richard Trophy – and 3rd straight. 6 players have won the NHL’s goal-scoring title 5+ times. 6 players have also won 3+ consecutive titles (most recent: Brett Hull 1990-92).

• Caps injuries: D Mike Green (upper-body) was held out of practice Tuesday. He is day-to-day and will be evaluated after the morning skate. WSH recalled D Nate Schmidt from Hershey (AHL) on an emergency basis.

• D Brooks Orpik (lower-body) left practice early yesterday and will also be a game-time decision.

• Braden Holtby made 16 saves on 17 shots against Buffalo. Overall, he is ranked near the top of 5 major goaltending categories:

• He has started the Caps’ last 10 games.

• vs. NYR: Holtby allowed 4 goals in the December meeting vs. the Rangers (4-2 loss).

Rangers pick up crucial points in divisional battle vs. Islanders

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Rick Nash scored the game winner at 2:50 of the third period as the New York Rangers edged the New York Islanders 2-1 in their final regular season meeting at Nassau Coliseum.

With the win, the Rangers (41-17-7) move to within one point of the Islanders (43-21-4) for top spot in the Metropolitan Division. The Rangers have four games in hand.

After losing the first three games in the season series, the Rangers won the final two to finish 2-3-0 against the Islanders this season.

Anders Lee scored his 23rd of the season to give the Islanders a 1-0 lead at 9:35 of the first period. With the goal, Lee extended his point streak to six games (three goals, three assists).

Kevin Hayes replied for the Rangers in the second with his 13th of the season.

Cam Talbot made 28 saves as the Rangers improved to 11-1-3 in their last 15 games and 12-2-3 since Henrik Lundqvist was sidelined by a vascular injury.

The win improved the Rangers to 54-63-8-2 in regular season play at Nassau Coliseum.

Kyle Okposo returned after missing 22 games due to a detached retina. He finished with three shots on goal in 18:33 of ice time.

Jaroslav Halak made 20 saves in the loss.

(Video) PHT Extra: Thriving sans Lundqvist, are the Rangers the team to beat in the East?

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The Rangers are 11-2-3 since Henrik Lundqvist went down to a vascular injury, can move within one point of the Metropolitan Division lead with a regulation win tonight and have two games in hand on the Habs, three on the Bolts and four on the Isles.

All of which begs the question: Are the Rangers the team to beat in the East?

 

Brassard scores lone goal as Rangers blank Blackhawks

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A game between the Chicago Blackhawks and New York Rangers seemed like it had the potential to be full of fireworks, but it was instead largely a goalies’ duel. Maybe it makes sense that it was ended by Derick Brassard – a guy who’s had troubling scoring goals – then.

Brassard’s 14th goal of 2014-15 (and his first in 15 games) ended up being Sunday’s only tally, as it was the 1-0 overtime-clincher.

Cam Talbot stopped all 29 shots he faced for his fifth shutout of 2014-15 while Corey Crawford may have been even more impressive, making 35 out of 36 saves. This was quite the spree by Crawford, in particular:

Talbot will rightfully get the headlines for this one, and he deserves them. Talbot has 10 wins and two shutouts in the 15 games he’s played since Henrik Lundqvist went down with what seemed like a troubling injury for the Rangers.

There were some positives for Chicago – Teuvo Teravainen almost looked like Patrick Kane at times wearing No. 86 – but the power play is far from a source of optimism:

As Kenny Albert noted during the NBCSN telecast, this was the first time the Rangers shut out the Blackhawks since 1969. It might not have been the prettiest win, yet it’s the sort that can empower a Rangers squad that looks more and more like it can stick with the NHL’s best … even out West.

WATCH LIVE: Rangers at Blackhawks

The Chicago Blackhawks and New York Rangers probably rank as the two teams that came the closest to wrestling the Stanley Cup from the Los Angeles Kings last season. They look strong (yet different) in 2014-15, too, so this should be a delicious taste of what may come if things go well for each squad in the postseason.

Even with Patrick Kane and Henrik Lundqvist on the shelf, there’s plenty of star power on both sides, so expect an exciting game. You can watch the action on NBCSN and also by streaming it via NBC Sports Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Check out the preview here.