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Capitals can expect yet another physical battle in Manhattan on Sunday against the Rangers

Capitals can expect yet another physical battle in Manhattan on Sunday against the Rangers

The Capitals and New York Rangers have played a lot of meaningful games in the past. With Washington hoping to repeat as Cup champs and the Rangers in the midst of a rebuild, however, these two teams are headed in different directions. In the wake of Friday’s game against the first place New York Islanders, Sunday’s game may seem like it doesn’t mean much by comparison, but don’t tell the players that.

The Caps and Rangers met one week ago on Sunday in Washington in what was a very physical, contentious affair. It sure didn’t look like a meaningless game between a contender and a team ready to sell of its top players at the deadline, it looked like two rivals duking it out because they desperately did not want to lose.

It didn’t take long for things to get physical.

It wasn’t just Tom Wilson eiter. Everyone was getting into the mix over the course of the game.

The Caps finally emerged from the fisticuffs with the 6-5 overtime win which should only add fuel to the rivalry fire on Sunday. This time it will be the Caps on the road to face the Rangers (12:30 p.m., NBC).

Buckle up. It’s going to be a rough game.

Game notes

This isn’t Ottawa

Like the Ottawa Senators, the Rangers were major sellers at the trade deadline, but don’t take that to mean the Caps will blow through New York as easily as they handled the Senators on Tuesday.

The Rangers traded Kevin Hayes and Adam McQuiad on Monday, one day after New York fell in Washington. Neither of those players played in Sunday’s game. The Rangers elected to sit both players to protect them as trade assets. The Caps are not going to play a bare bones roster, they are going to play largely the same roster that scored five goals against them and forced overtime.

They’re due

Fifteen of the Caps’ 18 skaters on Sunday recorded points. Newcomers Carl Hagelin and Nick Jensen were two of the only three players held without a point. In fact, neither player has been able to hit the scoresheet yet for Washington.

That’s not to say either player is not playing well, they are. The fourth line has looked dominant since Hagelin was added and Jensen looks to be as good as advertised in terms of skating and breakout passes on the blue line. If Sunday is another big day for the Caps’ offense, one of them is due to get their first point for Washington.

Standings watch

With their win Friday, the Caps pulled even with the New York Islanders for first place in the Metropolitan Division with 81 points. The Islanders technically remain in first place as they have a game in hand. Both team are back in action on Sunday. New York will host the Philadelphia Flyers at 3 p.m. If the Caps beat the Rangers, they will at the very least remain tied for first. A Caps win and an Islanders loss would see Washington take sole possession of first place for the first time since Jan. 15.


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Capitals vs. Rangers: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

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Capitals vs. Rangers: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

After twelve days on the road, the Washington Capitals return home to Capital One Arena to host the New York Rangers. The Caps are coming off of a 5-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres Saturday as they return for another matinee game Sunday at home.

The Caps haven't met the Rangers since October, where they won in overtime 4-3. 

With the second to worst on-the-road record in the NHL with 16 losses, the Rangers aren't the favorite to win Sunday's matinee.

Here is everything you need to know about Sunday afternoon's matchup, which will begin at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Washington.


What: Washington Capitals vs. New York Rangers, Game 63 of the 2018-19 NHL Regular Season
Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.
When: Sunday, Feb. 24, 12:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: The Capitals vs. Rangers game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder Link)
Live Stream: You can live stream Capitals vs. Rangers on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the My Teams App.
Radio: Caps 24/7 Radio, 106.7 The Fan FM


11:30 AM: Caps Faceoff Live
12:00 PM: Caps Pregame Live
12:30 PM: Capitals vs. Rangers


Capitals: N/A

Rangers: Brett Howden (knee, out)


Evgeny Kuznetsov, F, Capitals (15 goals, 39 assists, 54 points): Kuznetsov struggled on the Caps' recent road trip, recording just two points over the six-game stretch. Can he get hot back at home?

Alex Ovechkin, F, Capitals (44 goals, 27 assists, 71 points): Ovi has proved time and time agan this season that he's still got it, the Great 8 continuing to top the NHL scoring charts. He's terrorized the Rangers in their previous two meetings this year, scoring three goals. 

Mika Zibanejad, C, Rangers (26 goals, 32 assists, 58 points): It's been a tough season overall for the Rangers, but Zibanejad has enjoyed a breakout year, setting career highs in points and assists. Will the Caps be able to keep the 25-year old Swede quiet?


Number of all-time Meetings: 220
All-Time Series Record: Rangers lead 97-18-96
Last Meeting: Caps win 4-3 in overtime, Oct. 16, 2018


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Can the Caps reclaim first place in New York?

Can the Caps reclaim first place in New York?

The Caps take on the New York Rangers on Saturday (2 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Washington) with a chance to reclaim first place in the Metropolitan Division.

Here’s what you need to watch when these two rivals meet in New York.

Battle of the backups…maybe

Both the Caps and Rangers played on Friday and both used their top netminders so it would stand to reason that we could see both teams go with their backups for Saturday’s game.

Pheonix Copley has a record of 7-4-2 this season with a .899 save percentage and 3.07 GAA. He played admirably in place of Holtby while he was dealing with an upper-body injury and really cemented himself as the team’s backup. For the Rangers, their backup is the 22-year-old Alexander Georgiev who holds a record of 4-2-0 with a .911 save percentage and 2.94 GAA.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There is still a chance one or both coaches could bring back their starters on Saturday.

Reirden was asked whether or not Copley would start on Saturday prior to Friday’s contest and was very non-committal, saying that was the plan but that he would reevaluate after the game. Rangers head coach David Quinn, meanwhile, elected to play Lundqvist both nights of a back-to-back the last time New York faced the Caps on the second leg on Oct. 17.

It should be Copley vs. Georgiev, it probably will be Copley vs. Georgiev, but it certainly is not out of the realm of possibility that one or both coaches elect to go with their starters, both of whom have been playing very well of late.

The Tom Wilson return tour continues

Wilson has been an absolute beast since his return from suspension. Most notably has been his offense as he has been producing at over a point per game pace. In just six games, Wilson already has three goals and eight points. That more points than other forward who have been available all season such as Andre Burakovsky, Devante Smith-Pelly, Chandler Stephenson, Nic Dowd and Dmitrij Jaskin.

The Caps get a noticeable boost in energy whenever Wilson is on the ice. Until he cools down, he is someone you have to keep an eye on because he makes an impact in every aspect of the game whether it be even strength, on the power play or the penalty kill and both offensively and defensively.

Home ice advantage

This year was supposed to be a wash for the Rangers who are in the midst of a rebuild, but New York is surpassing everyone’s expectations with how well they have played thus far, particularly at home.

The Rangers are in the midst of a seven-game win streak at Madison Square Garden and are 9-3-0 overall at home this season.

The Caps have been fairly average on the road at 5-4-1, but have won three of their last four and enter Saturday’s game on a four-game win streak overall.

A battle for first place

The Caps currently sit in second place of the Metropolitan Division with 27 points, just one behind the Columbus Blue Jackets. A win Saturday would obviously vault them over Columbus for first place. An overtime or shootout loss would pull the Caps into a tie, but the Blue Jackets would retain first place with one more regulation or overtime win over Washington (12-11).

Should New York beat the Caps in regulation, the Rangers would vault over Washington for second place, pushing the Caps down to third.

It’s only November so we should not look too much into the standings, but it is always a confidence boost for a team to say it’s in first place. When your opponent has a chance to vault you in the standings with a win, it also could add just a bit of juice to what would otherwise be a regular November matinee game.