After suffering a tough defeat to the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Rangers will take on the Metropolitan Division leading Washington Capitals (7:00 P.M. ET, MSG).
Tuesday night, the Rangers suffered a third consecutive defeat after falling 3-1 to the St. Louis Blues. In a highly contested game, the Rangers took a first period lead on a power-play goal from Mika Zibanejad. However, Blues goalie Jordan Binnington would not surrender another and ultimately the Blues would tie the game in the second period, and find a winning goal in the third period. The Blues would add an empty net goal in the dying seconds. While the Rangers are winless in their last three, head coach David Quinn indicated he was happy with the performance against the Blues.
“I think we all feel good about all the things we did in that game against St. Louis, other than the result,” Quinn said.
“It obviously hurts more with the position we’re in at this time of year to lose a game like that when we played well, but it’s going to happen,” said veteran defender Marc Staal. “We’ve just got to get by it and keep moving on here.”
The Blueshirts schedule doesn’t get any easier as they take on a tough Washington Capitals team. The Capitals are currently leading the deep Metropolitan Division and are the fifth best team in the league entering Thursday. Washington’s leading point scorer is John Carlson who leads all defenders in points with 73. Alexander Ovechkin is third in the league in goals scored with 45. Ovechkin has 33 career regular season goals against the Rangers in 58 games.
Washington will turn to rookie netminder Ilya Samsonov. Samsonov is 16-6-1 with a 2.40 goals against average and a .917 save percentage. Throughout the year, starting goalie Braden Holtby has not been sharp and has been largely outplayed by the Russian rookie goalie.
Despite suffering a tough defeat against the Blues, the Rangers will turn back to Alex Georgiev. Georgiev allowed two goals on 21 shots including a game-winning goal he wishes he could have back.
“I love how he’s rebounded from anything like that – any little adversity,” said Quinn. “He’s a mentally tough kid. I’m not worried at all about that affecting him in any way, shape or form.”
The Blueshirts are currently 1-1-0 against the Capitals this season. The Rangers will look to replicate the last meeting which was a 4-1 victory in Madison Square Garden back in November. While the Capitals have a Russian superstar upfront, it’s the Rangers Russian Superstar who is having a career year. Artemi Panarin is fourth in the NHL with 90 points and he has been very effective against the Capitals in recent memory. Panarin leads all skaters with three goals in both meetings this season. In addition, Panarin has goals against the Capitals in four straight games going back to his time in Columbus, and he has recorded at least one point in seven of his past eight games against Washington.
The Rangers got good news on the injury front as Igor Shesterkin took practice for the first time with no restrictions since the car accident. Quinn labeled Shesterkin as day-to-day with no exact date for his next start.