The Blueshirts hope to end a three-game skid when they take on the Washington Capitals (12:30 P.M. ET, NBC).
The Capitals started the Rangers skid last Sunday with 6-5 overtime victory. On Wednesday, the Lightning defeated the Rangers in overtime 4-3. Finally, the Canadiens were led by Joel Armia’s hat trick to extend the Blueshirts losing streak to three. Now, the Blueshirts hope to end their misfortunes where it began.
“Every time we play this team there’s a little nastiness to it just because of the teams’ history,” said Brady Skjei, after last Sunday’s game. “That’s hockey.”
The Rangers will have a different look opposed to last Sunday in Washington. Brendan Lemieux was acquired 24 hours after their last meeting. Lemieux isn’t afraid to get in the face of the opposition and he will likely be in the middle of the “nastiness” in the rematch.
“Obviously he’s a presence out there,” said head coach David Quinn.
Brett Howden will get the opportunity to make his presence felt for the first time since January 29th when he suffered an MCL sprain. Howden will likely center the fourth line on his return to the lineup.
In addition, the Capitals will see 21-year-old Libor Hajek who made his NHL debut this past Friday. “I thought Libor had a really good night,” Quinn said. “I thought he was poised, I thought he was fluid, I thought he defended well, he looked confident with the puck… I liked a lot of his game.”
In just his second career game, Hajek will oppose one of the NHL’s best goal scorers in NHL history. Alex Ovechkin scored his league-leading 45th goal of the season on Friday and he became the first player in NHL history to have ten seasons with at least 45 goals. If Ovechkin can manage five more goals this season, he will record a 50-goal season for the 8th time.
The goaltending matchup for today’s rematch will be the exact opposite of last Sunday’s game. Braden Holtby will seek his third-straight win as he will start for the Capitals. Holtby watched Pheonix Copley against the Rangers last week. Alex Georgiev will start for the Rangers. Henrik Lundqvist surrendered six goals a week ago.
Filip Chytil will return to the Blueshirt lineup after being a healthy scratch for the past two games. Connor Brickley and Boo Nieves will join Freddy Claesson as healthy scratches.