Game 13 Preview: Washington Capitals v. New York Rangers

Posted by Dave Nichols | Friday, November 07, 2008 | , | 0 comments »

The Washington Capitals (6-4-2-14, second in Southeast Division) host the New York Rangers (11-4-1-23, first in Atlantic Division) tonight at 7:00 pm from Verizon Center.

The Caps enter showing signs of offensive life once again, after defeating the Carolina Hurricanes Thursday night 3-2. The reunited Russian World Championship line of Alex Ovechkin-Sergei Federov-Alexander Semin proved all the difference, as Semin (twice) and Federov both scored, and Ovechkin had the primary assist on all three goals. Ovechkin said the trio "had fun" and were looking for ways to score all night.

The only thing missing now is Ovechkin actually scoring a goal, something he hasn't done now in eight games, his career longest scoring drought. Coach Boudreau remarked that Ovechkin is working as hard as ever and that "he's not slowing down," but is confident his left winger will regain his scoring touch.

Goalie Brent Johnson played another stellar game in goal with 32 saves against the Canes, and it appears that Johnny will between the pipes again against New York. It will be Johnson's third consecutive start. After last Thursday's win, Johnson commented that his confidence was extremely high, maybe an all-time personal high, and was looking forward to getting back at it.

The Caps did take a couple of injuries Thursday. D Shaone Morrisonn left in the first period with a "lower body injury", but sources confirmed it to be a groin strain. Federov left midway through the third period with an undisclosed injury, and neither player participated in practice Friday or Saturday morning's skate. Tyler Sloan was recalled from Hershey and will be paired with Tom Poti on D tonight.

Nicklas Backstrom will assume Federov's spot on the first line with Ovechkin and Semin, at least for tonight while Federov recuperates.

Captain Chris Clark was held out of the morning skate as well, and it appears he'll be an injury scratch as well. His wrist was wrapped Saturday morning, and seemed upset and declined to elaborate on his injury to the press. Clark has struggled this season with just one assist and a -2 rating to show so far.

The Rangers come into DC with the best record in hockey, but showing signs of struggle, losing two of their last three games. They defeated Tampa Bay 5-2 Thursday, but lost in succession to the New York Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs last week, scoring just three times in the two games.

The Broadway Blueshirts have five players with five goals, tied for the team lead. RW Mikolai Zherdev, LW Markus Naslund, C Aaron Voros, C Chris Drury and RW Ryan Callahan have provided the balanced scoring. Zherdev is a league leading +11, just ahead of Semin at +10. New York does all it's scoring at even strength, as it's power play is ranked in the bottom third of the league, however it's penalty kill is third overall.

Henrik Lundqvist is New York's all-star goalie. He's 9-3-1 with a 2.00 GAA and .928 S%. Steve Valiquette is the capable backup (2-1-0, 2.59, .905).

WAS: PP-26th (14.8%, 8/54); PK-14th (82.1, 12/67)

NYR: PP-22nd (15.9%, 13/82); PK-3rd (90.3%, 6/62)

WAS: LW Alexander Semin (10-9-19, +10); LW Alex Ovechkin (three assists Thursday night); G Brent Johnson (Win, OTL last two starts, 70 saves)

NYR: RW Nikolai Zherdev (5-0-14, +11); Brandon Dubinsky (4-8-12, +2)


WAS: RW Chris Clark (one assist in 12 games, -2); D Milan Jurcina and Shaone Morrisonn (both -3 for the season)

NYR: D Dmitri Kalinin (0-5-5, team worst -6); C Blair Betts (2-1-3, +2)

WAS: D Brian Pothier (concussion-OUT); D Shaone Morrisonn (groin-QUE); C/D Sergei Federov (undisclosed-QUE)

NYR: None