Pre-game primer: Caps need to solve Lundqvist

Pre-game primer: Caps need to solve Lundqvist
December 8, 2013, 4:00 pm
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Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8) takes a shot on New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) during overtime at Madison Square Garden. Washington won in a shootout, 3-2.

(Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports)

News and notes as the Capitals [15-12-2, 32 points] prepare to face the New York Rangers [15-14-1, 31 points] tonight at Madison Square Garden [7 p.m., CSN].

No morning skates: With both teams playing Saturday night and the New York Knicks facing the Boston Celtics at noon on Sunday, neither team had ice available for a morning skate today.

Starting goalies: Look for Braden Holtby [13-9-1, 2.71, .983] to face Henrik Lundqvist [9-11-1, 2.51, .916]. In six regular season appearances against the Rangers, Holtby is 2-3-1 with a 1.95 GAA and .943 save percentage. In 25 career appearances against the Caps, Lundqvist is 15-7-3 with a 2.55 and .907.with four shutouts.

Last time we met: The Rangers blanked the Capitals 2-0 in their only other meeting this season back on Oct. 16 at Verizon Center. John Moore and Ryan Callahan scored even-strength goals for the Rangers. The Caps went 0-for-4 on the power play and were outshot 36-22. Including Games 6 and 7 of last year’s playoffs, the Capitals have been outscored by the Rangers 8-0 in their last three meetings. Lundqvist has a streak of 180 minutes without allowing a goal against the Caps. The Rangers are 8-2-1 in their last 11 regular season games against the Caps.

Trending: This is the second game of a franchise-high nine-game homestand for the Rangers as they return to a refurbished MSG. They fell 4-3 to the Devils in overtime Saturday night. They are 12-7-1 in their last 20 games. The Caps are coming off Satursay night’s 5-2 win over the Predators and have won three of their last four.

RELATED: [ Will King Henrik live up to his contract? ]

What the Caps expect: “ It’s got to be a physical game,” said LW Eric Fehr, who has five points in his lat five games. “A high-tempo game with battles behind the goal line and we’re going to have to win those.” Said Holtby: “We kind of know what the Rangers are about. "We know it's going to be a hard-fought game. It always is. Low-scoring mostly, which we have to be ready for.”

Rangers without Staal? Rangers D Marc Staal left Saturday night’s game against the Devils in the third period after taking a shoulder to the chin from rookie Reid Boucher. Staal, 26, missed 36 games with a concussion in 2011-12 and another 27 games last season with an eye injury. If Staal cannot play, look for Michael Del Zotto to return after being a healthy scratch. Rangers forward Derek Dorsett, who leads the club with 97 penalty minutes, is day-to-day with a sprained wrist.

Did you know: The Rangers are 1-12-0 when their opponent scores first and 14-2-1 when scoring first. The Caps have outscored their opponents 34-26 in the second period. The Rangers have been outscored by their opponents 34-24 in the second period.

Isn’t that special: That Caps rank 4th on the power play and 13th on the penalty kill. The Rangers are 11th on the PP and 6th on the PK.

Leaders: Alex Ovechkin leads the Caps in goals [22] and points [31]. Brad Richards leads the Rangers in goals [9] and points [23].  Richards and Rangers D Ryan McDonagh each are riding six-game point streaks. Rick Nash is one point away from his 600th in the NHL.

45 in 50: Dating back to last season, Alex Ovechkin has 45 goals in his last 50 games. He has nine goals in his last 11 games and has 16 goals and 15 assists in 31 career games against the Rangers.

ROW: The Caps lead the Rangers by one point in the standings but the Rangers have a big edge in games won in regulation or overtime with 15 to the Capitals’ 9. ROWs are the first playoff tiebreaker.

Here are the projected starting lineups for both teams. Follow me @ChuckGormleyCSN and #CapitalsTalk for updates before, during and after the game:

CAPITALS

Forward Lines

Marcus Johansson – Nicklas Backstrom – Alex Ovechkin

Eric Fehr – Mikhail Grabovski – Troy Brouwer

Jason Chimera – Marty Erat – Joel Ward

Aaron Volpatti – Jay Beagle – Tom Wilson

Defense Pairings

Karl Alzner – Mike Green

Nate Schmidt – John Carlson

Patrick Wey – Dmitry Orlov

Goaltenders

Braden Holtby – Philipp Grubauer

RANGERS

Forward Lines

Mats Zuccarello – Brad Richards – Ryan Callahan

Rick Nash – Derek Stepan – Chris Kreider

J.T. Miller - DerrickBrassard – Carl Hagelin
Taylor Pyatt – Brian Boyle – Dominic Moore

Defense Pairings

Ryan McDonagh – Dan Girardi

Michael Del Zotto – Anton Stralman

John Moore – Justin Falk

Goaltenders

Henrik Lundqvist – Cam Talbot