NHL on NBC: Capitals look to regain top spot in Metropolitan vs. Rangers

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NBC’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with the Sunday’s matinee matchup between the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers. Coverage begins at 12 p.m. ET on NBC. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

It was Jan. 14 when the Washington Capitals last held first place in the Metropolitan Division. They will have a chance to regain the crown, if only for a short while on Sunday.

If the Caps can beat the New York Rangers for the fourth straight time this season, they will have also extended their current winning streak to four games and leapfrogged the New York Islanders for top spot. Whether they stay there will be determined by the Isles, who play later in the day.

For Washington, taking care of business against the Rangers has come easy in recent times. They’re 8-0-1 in their past nine meetings, including five straight wins, and their current three-game run at the moment started a week ago against the Blueshirts.

Washington has been going steady for longer than that, however, with five wins in their past six games and seven in their past 10. A big part of all their success has, of course, been thanks to Alex Ovechkin‘s torrid pace in the goal department.

He has eight goals in his past 10 games and hit 45 on Friday night to make a little history.

“His ability to score goals, create offense is something that I have never seen before,” Caps forward T.J. Oshie said. “There are greats in the league, but none that I have seen that are such a natural prolific goal scorer.”

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 12 p.m. ET – NBC]

Fellow Caps teammate Nicklas Backstrom will be featured as part of Star Sunday.

Since entering the league 12 years ago, Backstrom has the most assists (636) and power-play assists (282) among all NHLers and is second in power-play points with 353 and fifth in points with 860.

Mika Zibanejad will be the Rangers player featured.

Zibanejad has been the one Rangers constant this season, and he’s doing everything at a career-high rate having already established new bests in assists (36) and points (63). The forward’s 27 goals has tied a career-best mark he set last season and still has plenty of time to round out the career-high hat trick.

The Rangers are in rebuild mode and lost several key players at the trade deadline, including Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello. Still, Zibanejad feels the team is moving in the right direction.

“Our work ethic is completely different than it was last year,” he said after a 4-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Friday. “Even this game, with our first period, down 2-0, I think we would have collapsed against this kind of team and it would have been 6-1 in the third period. But we don’t do that this year… Obviously we are not where we want to be, but I think we can build off this for next year, and that’s something we are going to strive for over these last 19 games.”

Six-time Emmy Award-winner Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick (play-by-play), Olczyk (analyst), and McGuire (‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst) will have the call from New York. Liam McHugh, Mike Milbury and Keith Jones will handle studio coverage.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck