The New York Rangers are making some defensive pairing swaps in lieu of Game 6 against the Washington Capitals on Sunday.
Chalk it up to matchups or any other factors, but Marc Staal has been reunited with Kevin Klein while Keith Yandle and Dan Boyle will make up one of the most expensive third defensive pairings in recent memory, as ESPN’s Katie Strang points out.
The Rangers’ top duo remains Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi.
Interesting to see this change with New York’s last win in mind, but the Capitals get the last change at home, so it makes some sense. The Rangers have been tough to eliminate while the Caps have had trouble putting opponents away in recent postseasons, so this could be an interesting night.
A quick look at what games will be on what channels in tonight’s Stanley Cup playoff action…
Rangers at Capitals, 7:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN
The Rangers will once again look to avoid elimination tonight as their series with the Washington Capitals shifts to the Verizon Center for Game 6. The series has been a showcase of outstanding goaltending. Henrik Lundqvist and Braden Holtby have stopped a combined 296 of 311 shots through five games for a .952 save percentage. New York has now played in an NHL-record 12 straight one-goal playoff games. The Caps have been eliminated by the Rangers in seven games in each of their last two playoff appearances. Washington is 7-2 against New York at home in the playoffs since 2012.
Flames at Ducks, 10:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN
Since winning the Stanley Cup in 2007 the Anaheim Ducks have not made it past the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Ducks have a chance to close out their second round series with the Calgary Flames in Game 5 tonight at the Honda Center. The Flames are looking to advance to the conference finals for the first time since 2004 when they came one win shy of capturing the franchise’s second Stanley Cup. Calgary will be in tough tonight – the Flames have lost 21 straight at the Honda Center since a win on April 25, 2006. The Ducks won Games 1 and 2 in Anaheim by a combined 9-1 margin. Dave Strader and Brian Engblom have the call of Game 5.
The New York Rangers are fighting to stay alive in their second round series against the Capitals. Each game has been decided by just one goal so while Washington has a 3-2 series lead, that Capitals’ edge might not exist if Mats Zuccarello was healthy.
Zuccarello hasn’t played in the second round due to a concussion and if New York is going to get past Washington it will likely have to be without his services. The 27-year-old forward did travel with the Rangers to Washington though and while his return isn’t imminent, he is making progress, per the Bergen Record.
“He’s an upbeat person and we’d like him to be on the ice, he can’t be there right now to help us out, hopefully he’ll be there soon,” coach Alain Vigneault said.
In the meantime, Zuccarello is keeping in contact with his teammates and attended Game 5, which has been good for the Rangers’ morale.
“I think it’s great,” Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi said. “It creates a little bump here. It’s good to see his face around and he’s always laughing and telling jokes and keeping it light. We’ve seen him a couple of times before that but it’s good to see him out and feeling good and out and about with the team.”
A costly mistake by Curtis Glencross led to Ryan McDonagh’s overtime winner in Game 5 sending the series back to Washington for Game 6 on Sunday night.
Glencross’ cross-ice pass in the neutral zone was picked off by Jesper Fast leading to the game-winner.
“It’s disappointing, obviously,” Glencross said per CSN Washington. “They picked off a hard pass across the ice out of the air and came back and unfortunately they put it in the back of the net.”
Glencross scored his first career playoff goal in the third period to open the scoring. The goal snapped a 19-game drought. The euphoria was short lived however.
McDonagh took a drop pass from Derek Stepan at 9:37 of the extra period and beat a screened Braden Holtby for his second of the playoffs.
“(Brooks Laich) was all alone wide,” Glencross said of his pass attempt. “If I make a pass like that he’s gone in [alone] pretty much.”
Glencross expects his team to take better advantage of opportunities on Sunday at the Verizon Center.
“That’s hockey,” Glencross said. “We didn’t seal it up and when it goes to overtime it’s a game of mistakes and they got one. We’ll be good next game and we want to finish it off in six. We’ll have short-term memory, come back on Sunday and take the series.”
The Washington Capitals lost in overtime to the New York Rangers on Friday, although there was a controversial moment in the second period, when it appeared the Capitals had taken the lead.
Instead, after contact between Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, Capitals forward Joel Ward and Rangers forward Derek Stepan, the goal was immediately waved off and the game remained scoreless going into the third period.
From CSN Washington:
Here’s an explanation from series officiating manager Rob Shick, via a pool reporter:
“The goaltender wasn’t allowed to play his position in the crease. Incidental contact [by Ward]. I support the call. Results in no goal, no penalty.”
A pivotal moment in the game, the Capitals disagreed with the call but seemed to have let it go.
“We felt obviously he was pushed in,” said Capitals head coach Barry Trotz, as per the Washington Post. “But they made the call and that was it. We just deal with it and move on.”