Judging from the line combinations and defense pairings from Friday’s morning skate, the Capitals will face the Rangers tonight looking a lot like they did Wednesday night against the Maple Leafs, aside from Braden Holtby returning to action.
Holtby is expected to make his 53rd appearance of the season tonight at Verizon Center (CSN+). With Henrik Lundqvist sidelined with neck spasms, the Rangers are expected to go with backup goaltender Antti Raanta.
Caps defenseman Nate Schmidt, who sat out Wednesday night’s 3-2 win over the Leafs with a lower body injury, skated with the Caps on Friday morning, but did not take regular shifts and is expected to sit out tonight’s game in favor of a third pairings of Taylor Chorney and Mike Weber.
Tonight marks the fifth and final meeting between the Caps and Rangers.
The Capitals have won three consecutive games against the Rangers and have won four of the last six games against New York.
Holtby stopped 28 of 30 shots on Tuesday against Pittsburgh to earn his league-leading 40th win of the season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Holtby is the fastest goaltender in NHL history to reach 40 wins in a season (52 games).
This marks Holtby’s second consecutive 40-win season (2014-15: 41 wins) and the third 40-win season in franchise history (Olie Kolzig, 1999-2000: 41).
Holtby is the 13th goaltender in NHL history to post multiple 40-win seasons. In addition, he is the seventh goaltender in NHL history to record consecutive 40-win seasons and the first since Evgeni Nabokov (2007-09).
Here's how the Caps looked in their morning skate:
Taylor Chorney - Mike Weber
Braden Holtby (starter) - Philipp Grubauer
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