WASHINGTON — The Washington Capitals can lock up their second straight Presidents’ Trophy and the top seed throughout the playoffs when they host the New York Rangers on Wednesday night.
After defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday, Metropolitan Division-leading Washington (53-18-8) has a five-point lead on second-place Pittsburgh (49-19-11), a winner over Columbus on Tuesday night, and both teams have three games remaining.
Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk scored his first goal since coming to the Capitals in a February trade, and Lars Eller, Nate Schmidt — a late lineup addition after John Carlson was scratched — and Tom Wilson also lit the lamp for Washington.
“If you’re going to do anything in the playoffs, you’re going to need contributions from all four lines,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said of the goals by Eller (third line) and Wilson (fourth). “There’s a few teams in the conference that can do that, and it’ll be an exciting time.”
Alex Ovechkin picked up an assist and passed Alexander Mogilny (1,032) for second place in NHL history in points by a Russian-born player, behind Sergei Fedorov (1,179).
The Capitals won four of five on their season-long road trip and are 9-1-1 in their last 11 contests after ending the Leafs’ four-game winning streak. Toronto is one of several teams that could end up as Washington’s first-round opponent.
“Obviously, it’s nice to look back on your last game, if you do play them, and see that you had a 4-1 win and didn’t give them much,” Wilson said. “We’re going to play the next three games, and we’ll find out who we get and take it from there.”
The Rangers (47-26-6) clinched the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference when they defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 at Madison Square Garden on Sunday. They will face Montreal in the first round.
Coach Alain Vigneault is sitting a banged-up group of players on Wednesday night that includes Ryan McDonagh, Rick Nash, Mats Zuccarello and Jesper Fast.
“They’ve all been playing through certain bumps and bruises,” Vigneault told reporters after the team’s Tuesday practice. “So we can at this time give them a couple days here, but I’m not exactly sure how things are going to unfold here.”
One player not resting will be goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who will make his fifth start since returning from the hip injury that forced him to miss almost three weeks.
“It’s a big week for us to work on everything that’s been helping us so far throughout the year,” he told the team’s website. “A lot of detail in our own end, the way we forecheck. Personally, the way you move, the way you read the game, everything. You try to go over it right now. You try to take it game-by-game. Obviously (Wednesday) is a pretty tough test for us against the best team in the league right now, and (we’ll) try to get some points.”
The Rangers took two of the first three meetings, but the Capitals have won six straight divisional games and have earned at least a point in 15 of their last 17 (13-2-2) against Metropolitan rivals.
“These divisional games are always easy to get motivated for,” Eller said. “It is a big game. It’s also a team we could face (in the playoffs).”
Lundqvist is 21-10-4 with four shutouts and a 2.62 goals-against average vs. Washington, while Braden Holtby is 7-9-1 with a 2.61 GAA against the Rangers.
Ovechkin has 29 goals and 15 assists in 47 games against the Rangers and Nicklas Backstrom has eight goals and 23 assists in 38 games.
New York’s Mats Zuccarello had three assists against the Flyers, giving him team-highs in points (59) and assists (44).
- Former Rangers player Fernando Ricksen dies aged 43
- FIFA 20 patch notes 1.05: Title update 4 hits PCs, update coming soon to PS4, Xbox One
- Lowdown on Rangers’ opponents Feyenoord
- ICC, BCCI set to lock horns over new FTP
- Indigenous group behind mass protests in Ecuador agree to hold talks on austerity with President Lenin Moreno as Quito remains on military-enforced lock-down amid violent unrest
- Preston vs Man City LIVE updates and team news
- Rugby World Cup LIVE: France vs USA, New Zealand vs Canada
- UFC 243: Israel Adesanya vs Robert Whittaker
- Europa League: Rangers v Feyenoord preview
- Greens aiming to cease Bury curse
- The Latest: Cowboys' Cooper leaves vs. Jets with quad injury
- The Latest: Injuries mounting for Houston Texans vs. Chiefs
- How lacrosse star Paul Rabil aims to redefine professional sports
- Man jailed for aiming laser into plane cockpit
- The NHL's best and worst this week: Are the Sabres for real this time?
- BUSINESS NEWS OCTOBER 11
- 'His happiest time, and probably his most hell-raising period'
- Exclusive: Haris Vuckic opens up on his Newcastle spell
- Rugby, World Cup: Japan beats Russia 30-10 in World Cup opener
- Rugby World Cup breaking news live
Caps aim to lock up Presidents’ Trophy vs. Rangers (Apr 05, 2017) have 797 words, post on www.foxsports.com at April 4, 2017. This is cached page on Health Breaking News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.