New York Rangers (2-1-0, 4 pts, 2nd in Atlantic Division)
Washington Capitals (2-0-1, 5 pts, 1st in Southeast Division)
Tonight's matchup pits two teams that are intimately familiar with each other, having played a seven-game first round playoff series against each other last season.
New York comes in on the heels of a 3-2 win Monday in New Jersey. They fell in Pittsburgh 3-2 to open the season last Friday, and beat Ottawa the next night 5-2.
As he was for last season's playoff series, Henrik Lundqvist has been in goal for each game for the Rangers. New York is playing with two rookie defensemen, Michael Del Zotto and Matt Gilroy, and the pair have combined for three goals and four points in the Rangers' first three games this season.
Brandon Dubinsky and free agent signee Marian Gaborik each have two goals and two assists thus far. And the Rangers bring old friend Donald Brashear back to invade his old turf and mix things up a bit. Interesting to see if "The Donald" can get anyone on the Caps to tango with him tonight or if he'll be reduced to spectator at the end of the bench.
The Caps enter play with four of the top six scorers in the league after a week of play. Alex Ovechkin (5-4-9, +6), Nicklas Backstrom (0-8-8, +5), Alexander Semin (4-3-7, +2) and Brooks Laich (3-3-6, +2) litter the top of the scoring list.
For the first five periods of the season, the Caps looked like world-beaters, dominating the Bruins in Boston 4-1 and spanking Toronto around the Verizon Center ice, before letting up in the third period of that contest.
Then, a road trip to Philly served as a wake-up call, as the Flyers netted six, including three power play goals, and coach Bruce Boudreau was left to yank Semyon Varlamov, who he described as allowing a couple of soft goals.
Jose Theodore will start between the pipes tonight, as he did for the opener in Boston.
Washington returned forward Boyd Kane to AHL Hershey, and Tyler Sloan will make his first entry into the lineup tonight, albeit at wing with Boyd Gordon and Matt Bradley instead of his customary rearguard spot. Milan Jurcina gets the night off from his normal duties, in Boudreau's defensive rotation.
Scratches: Nylander, Jurcina
WAS: GF: 2nd (15/5.00) GA: 22nd (11/3.67) PP: 9th (33.3 %) PK: 10th (82.4%)
NYR: GF: 14th (10/3.33) GA: 7th (7/2.33) PP: 26th (13.3 %) PK: 8th (83.3%)
WAS: RW Eric Fehr (shoulders-out), LW Tomas Fleischmann (leg-out)
NYR: C Sean Avery (knee-questionable)