The Capitals (33-8-3, 69 points) will try to rebound from Saturday night’s 4-1 loss in Buffalo today at home when they face the New York Rangers (24-15-5, 53 points). Here are our AAA Keys to the Game:
Holtby vs. Raanta: Braden Holtby (28-5-2, 1.97 GAA, .931 SP) will return to the nets after allowing three goals on 16 shots against the Sabres. “He didn’t get enough work, so we’ll just put him back in,” Caps coach Barry Trotz said, referring to Holtby’s 27:14 of ice time Saturday. “He has nothing to prove to me or any of his teammates. He’s probably our MVP this year.” Rangers backup Antti Raanta (4-3-1, 2.08, .919) will get the call for New York after starter Henrik Lundqvist led the Rangers to a 3-2 shootout win in Philadelphia.
Richards in, so is Laich: Mike Richards will be back in the lineup for the Caps after logging 13:01 of ice time in Buffalo Saturday night. Trotz said Richards told him “things got quick” on him at times, where he thought he had more time than he actually had. “He had some adrenaline yesterday. We’ll see how this week progresses.” Brooks Laich, who was a healthy scratch for the first time this season in Buffalo, will be back in the lineup today. He’s likely to replace Michael Latta, leaving a fourth line of Richards, Laich and Zach Sill. Laich is two games shy of passing Rod Langway (726) for eighth place on the Caps’ all-time games played list.
Rebounders: The Caps are 9-0-1 following losses this season and are the only team in the NHL that has not suffered back-to-back regulation losses. They have outscored opponents 35-19 in games following losses. “We take a lot of pride in that,” Trotz said. “We understand there’s a certain standard we need to play by. Any time you lose a game you just want to stop the bleeding and go forward.”
Old schoolin’: The Caps will be wearing their old-school third jerseys today.
How they’ve fared: The Caps had a five-game win streak snapped Saturday night but hold a 16-point lead on the Rangers, who sit in a second-place tie with the Islanders in the Metropolitan Division standings. This is the fourth of five meetings between the Caps and Rangers this season. The Caps lost 5-2 in New York on Nov. 3, won 7-3 in New York on Dec. 20 and won 4-3 in New York on Jan. 9 with a mad overtime rush by Alex Ovechkin, his 499th goal of the season. Justin Williams has three goals and three assists in three games against the Blueshirts this season.
Home cooking: The Caps have won 11 straight at Verizon Center, dating back to Nov. 21. The franchise record is 13 set in 2009-10. Overall the Caps are 17-3-1 at home this season.
Rangers rants: The Rangers are looking for their first back-to-back wins since Nov. 21 and 23. They have gone 8-12-3 since then. Defenseman Kevin Klein is questionable with a sore thumb. Kevin Hayes leads all Rangers with two goals and two assists in three games against the Caps.
Former friends: Rick Nash, Dererick Brassard and Jason Chimera were teammates in Columbus for parets of three seasons (2007-10). J.T. Miller and Tom Wilson were teammates with the OHL Plymouth Whalers for one season (2011-12). Kevin Klein played for Barry Trotz in Nashville.
Iron men: Karl Alzner and Keith Yandle are the only NHL defensemen who have played every game since the 2010-11 season. Alzner has played in 420 straight games, two shy of the club record held by Bob Carpenter. Yandle has played in 513 straight games for the Rangers.