Pregame primer: Can Caps end skid in New York?

Pregame primer: Can Caps end skid in New York?
January 19, 2014, 11:15 am
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(AP Photo/John Minchillo)

News and notes as the Capitals [22-18-8, 52 points] visit the New York Rangers 25-21-3, 51 points] tonight at MadisonSquareGarden [7:30 p.m., NBCSN]:

Outside looking in: For the first time since early November, the Capitals woke up this morning on the wrong side of the playoff picture. Thanks to their second four-game losing streak of the season, they are 10th in the Eastern Conference, three points behind the second-place Flyers and third-place Rangers in the Metro Division. The Caps have played one game fewer than the Flyers and two fewer than the Rangers. A win or overtime/shootout loss tonight would put the Capitals back into the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.

Goal drought: During their four-game losing streak [0-2-2] the Caps have managed just six goals. With that in mind, look for coach Adam Oates to go with the same lines he assembled in Columbus on Saturday, with Alex Ovechkin reuniting with Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson; Jason Chimera getting promoted to a second line with Mickhail Grabovski and Troy Brouwer; Brooks Laich centering a third line with Marty Erat and Joel Ward; and Jay Beagle centering s fourth line with Aaron Volpatti and either Eric Fehr or Tom Wilson.

Power-less: The Caps have gone five straight games without a power-play goal [0-for-13]. As a result they have slipped to second in the NHL at 24.1 percent. They have also allowed four power-play goals in the past five games, falling to 19th in the NHL at 80.1 percent.

[RELATED: Penalties are killing Capitals this season]

Power Rangers: The Rangers have won four of their last five and are 9-3-1 in their last 13 games. They’ve scored 14 power-play goals while allowing eight in their last 15 games. They rank seventh on the PP [20.9 percent] and ninth on the PK [84 percent].

Trending: The Rangers are 20-3-1 when scoring first and 5-18-2 when their opponents score first. The Caps are 13-0-2 when leading after two periods; the Rangers are 15-1-1. When tied after two periods the Caps are 4-5-4 the Rangers are 7-3-1. The Caps are 8-6 n shootouts; the Rangers are 3-2.

Head-to-head: After a 2-0 loss to the Rangers on Oct. 16 in D.C., the Caps have beaten New York by scores of 3-2 and 4-1. The Capitals are 6-3-1 in their last 10 visits to MadisonSquareGarden, including that 4-1 win for Philipp Grubauer’s first NHL victory on Dec. 8. That game is widely considered the Caps’ best of the season,

More head to head: Ovechkin has 31 points [16 goals, 15 assists] in 34 career regular-season games against the Rangers but is pointless and a minus-3 against them this season. Nicklas Backstrom has 22 points [6 goals, 16 assists] in 25 regular-season games against the Rangers and leads the Caps with three points and a plus-3 this season. Brad Richards has three assists and Benoit Pouliot has two goals against the Caps this season.

Best of New York: Five Rangers have 11 or more goals, led by Brad Richards, Mats Zuccarello and Chris Kreider with 12 each, and Rick Nash and Carl Hagelin with 11 each. Defensemen Ryan McDonagh [24:44] and Dan Girardi [22:47] lead the Rangers in ice time and will get a healthy dose of Ovechkin tonight.

Plus-Minus: Kreider is a team-best plus-11 for the Rangers, while Derrick Brassard is a team-worst minus-11. Steve Oleksy is a team-best plus-7 for the Capitals [Grabovski is next at plus-6], while Ovechkin is a team-worst minus-15.

Today Show tomorrow: Alex Ovechkin will have an early wakeup call on Monday. You can catch him live on NBC’s Today Show at 7:45 a.m.

Tonight’s officials: Your referees for tonight are Frederick L’Ecuyer and Ian Walsh. Shane Heyer and Scott Cherrey are your linesmen.

[RELATED: As Olympics near, Ovechkin on time management]