More news and notes as the Capitals (8-2-0, 16 points) visit the New York Rangers (7-2-2, 16 points) tonight at Madison Square Garden (6:30 pregame, CSN):
Goalie matchup: Braden Holtby (6-2-0, 1.90 GAA, .924 SP) will go for the Caps, while Henrik Lundqvist (5-2-2, 1.87, .943) will go for the Rangers. In 11 career games against the Blueshirts Holtby is 3-6-1 with a 2.34 GAA and .926 SP. Lundqvist is 18-8-3 with a 2.52 GAA, .910 SP and four shutouts in 29 career games against the Caps. “He’s our best player,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “He’s our highest-paid player also.” Lundqvist is in the second year of a seven-year, $59.5 million contract.
Chasing history: The Caps’ 8-2-0 start matches their best in franchise history. They were also 8-2-0 in 1991-92 and 2011-12. The Caps are 4-0-0 on the road this season and have never started a season with five straight road wins. The Rangers are 5-1-1 at home this season.
Ovi and Nick: In 29 career regular season games against Lundqvist, Alex Ovechkin has 16 goals and 11 assists. Nicklas Backstrom has five goals and 15 assists in 21 games against Lundqvist.
Kuz-tastic: Evgeny Kuznetsov ranks fifth in the NHL with 1.30 points per game and some are projecting him as a point-per-game player. “Maybe he went under the radar there for while,” Vigneault said, “but no more.”
My baloney has a first name: Rangers rookie Oscar Lindberg is second on the club with five goals and is the first rookie in club history to score a goal in his first three games. Lindberg was selected by Phoenix in the second round (57th overall) of the 2010 NHL draft and traded to the Rangers for Ethan Werek back in 2011.
Quick starters: The Rangers have outscored opponents 12-5 in first periods this season, while the Caps have outscored opponents 9-6 in the opening 20 minutes. “They usually start quick, especially in this building,” Caps defenseman Brooks Orpik said. “So managing the puck and making them go 200 feet will be important for us. If they score the first goal it can kind of snowball on you.”
Solving Henrik: The Caps say the secret to beating Henrik Lundqvist is, you guessed it, traffic. “We have a good scouting package on him as I’m sure he does on our shooters,” Brooks Laich said. “He’s a good goaltender. Their team is also notorious for blocking shots. We need to be hungry around the net and get inside position on their defenders and just be hungry to score”
Fights? What fights?: Ten games into the season the Caps are one of four NHL teams without a fighting major. The Rangers have engaged in just one fight, by defenseman Kevin Klein. If there’s a nifght to see one, it’s tonight, when Tom Wilson plays on a fourth line against Dylan McElrath.