Pre-game notes courtesy of the NYR:
NEW YORK RANGERS at WASHINGTON CAPITALS
Friday, Dec. 27, 7:00 p.m. ET
Verizon Center – Washington, D.C.
Rangers: 18-18-2 (38 pts)
Capitals: 19-14-4 (42 pts)
The Rangers will face-off against the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center (7:00p.m. — TV: MSG 2; Radio: Bloomberg Radio), to begin a five-game road trip. The Blueshirts rank fourth in the Metropolitan Division standings, and ninth in the Eastern Conference, with a record of 18-18-2 (38 pts). The Rangers enter the contest having defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs, 2-1, in the shootout on Monday at Madison Square Garden, to complete their franchise-record nine-game homestand (3-4-2). The Blueshirts are tied for fifth in the conference in ROW (16). The Capitals enter the contest with a 19-14-4 (42 pts) record to rank sixth in the Eastern Conference, and have lost three of their last four games. Following the contest, the Rangers will return to action when they face-off against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday, Dec. 29, at Tampa Bay Times Forum (7:00 p.m.)
RANGERS vs. CAPITALS:
All-Time: 88-87-18-6 overall (48-39-9-3 at home; 40-48-9-3 on the road)
2013-14: Tonight is the third of four meetings this season, and the second of two meetings at Verizon Center. New York is 1-1-0 overall (0-1-0 at home; 1-0-0 on the road), following a 4-1 loss on Dec. 8 at Madison Square Garden.The Rangers penalty kill is 6-6 (100.0%) in the series. Ryan Callahan, John Moore, and Benoit Pouliot have each tallied a goal, while Brad Richards leads all skaters with two assists in two games. Henrik Lundqvist is 1-1-0 with a 2.00 GAA, .931 Sv%, and one shutout in the series.
Last Season: New York was 2-0-1 overall (1-0-1 at home; 1-0-0 on the road). Two of the three contests were decided by one goal, including one game that required the shootout. The Rangers out-scored the Capitals, 5-0, after the first period, and out-shot Washington, 102-81, in the series. The Blueshirts’ power play was 3-9 (33.3%), while their penalty kill was 9-10 (90.0%). Derek Stepan led all skaters with three goals, while Ryan McDonagh and Rick Nash tied for the series-high with three assists apiece. Carl Hagelin (one goal, two assists) and Brad Richards (one goal, two assists) also tallied three points in the series. Henrik Lundqvist was 1-0-1 with a 1.44 GAA and .942 Sv% in two games.
The Rangers have registered a point in nine of their last 12 meetings with the Capitals, dating back to a 7-0 win on Dec. 12, 2010. New York has posted an 8-3-1 record and has out-scored Washington, 37-23, during the stretch.
New York is 10-8-0 on the road; Washington is 12-8-1 at home
New York is 5-6-2 vs. Metropolitan Division opponents; Washington is 8-5-1 vs. Metropolitan Division opponents
INDIVIDUAL CAREER LEADERS vs. CAPITALS:
Henrik Lundqvist – 26 GP, 15-8-3, 4 SO, 2.61 GAA
Brad Richards – 55 GP, 9-31–40
Ryan Callahan – 23 GP, 10-7–17
Rick Nash – 13 GP, 7-8–15
Dan Girardi – 25 GP, 0-7–7
The Rangers’ power play is 10-47 (21.3%) in the last 14 games … Have tallied two or more power play goals in five games this season … Is tied for third in the league with three goals in 5-on-3 situations … The Blueshirts’ penalty kill has held opponents scoreless in 15 of the last 21 games (50-56, 89.3% over the span).
Power Play: The Rangers were 0-4 (6:51) on Monday vs. Toronto. New York ranks 13th in the NHL overall (24-129, 18.6%), and seventh on the road (13-57, 22.8%). The Rangers are 3-12 (5:58) in five-on-three situations (last – 12/23 vs. TOR), and 0-3 (3:55) when four-on-three (last – 12/20 vs. NYI). Shorthanded goals allowed (5): 10/8 at SJS (Vlasic); 10/24 at PHI (Read); 11/19 vs. BOS (Paille); 12/20 vs. NYI (Clutterbuck, PS); 12/20 vs. NYI (Grabner).
Penalty Killing: The Blueshirts were 4-4 (7:05) on Monday vs. Toronto. New York ranks sixth in the NHL overall (100-117, 85.5%), and sixth on the road (51-59, 86.4%). The Rangers are 2-4 (3:25) in three-on-five situations (last – 12/20 vs. NYI), and 4-6 (4:29) when three-on-four (last – 12/15 vs. CGY). Shorthanded goals for (1): 10/7 at LAK (McDonagh).
Four-on-Four: New York did not tally/yield a goal in three four-on-four situations (5:55) on Monday vs. Toronto, and are now -1 in 44 four-on-four situations (68:39) this season. Four-on-four goals for (4): 10/16 at WSH (J. Moore); 10/26 at DET (Brassard); 12/12 vs. CBJ (Girardi); 12/18 vs. PIT (Hagelin). Four-on-four goals allowed (5): 10/3 at PHX (Vrbata); 10/7 at LAK (Muzzin); 10/12 at STL (Backes); 12/8 vs. WSH (Grabovski, PS); 12/18 vs. PIT (Sutter).
SHOOTING GALLERY: The Blueshirts have out-shot their opponent in six of the last seven games (tied on shots in the seventh game), and hold a 230-177 shot advantage over their opponents during the stretch. New York out-shot Toronto, 43-26, in their 2-1 shootout victory on Monday at Madison Square Garden, including a 22-5 advantage in the second period. It was the fourth time this season the Rangers posted 40 or more shots in a game, and the first time the Rangers had at least 22 shots in a single period since Jan. 27, 2010 against Carolina (22 shots in the Second Period). The Rangers have now registered 30 or more shots in eight of the last 11 games.
RINGMASTERS: The Rangers have won 348-656 faceoffs (53.0%) through 11 games in the month of December, including a season-high, 41 faceoff wins (41-64, 64%), in a 3-1 victory on Dec. 5 at Buffalo. Derek Stepan has won a team-high, 113 faceoffs over the span, while Brad Richards (61-113, 54.0%), Dominic Moore (61-94, 64.9%), Derick Brassard (51-98, 52.0%), and Brian Boyle (48-80, 60.0%) have each won better than 52% of their faceoffs taken during the month.
MILESTONE MATS: Mats Zuccarello tallied a power play assist on Dec. 20 against the NY Islanders to establish a single-season career-high in scoring with his 24th point of the season. He has recorded 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in the last 16 games, and leads the team in scoring with 25 points (eight goals, 17 assists) in the last 30 games since his healthy scratch on Oct. 24 at Philadelphia. Zuccarello is currently tied for first on the team in assists (17), third in goals (eight), and ranks second in points (25) overall this season.
WESTERN SHOOTOUT: The Rangers have required the shootout in three of their last five games after being the only team in the NHL to not participate in a shootout in their first 33 contests of the season. The Blueshirts’ 4-3 shootout victory against the Calgary Flames on Dec. 15 at Madison Square Garden ended a stretch of 41 regular season games without a shootout, with their last shootout being on Apr. 10, 2013 vs. Toronto (3-2 SO win). New York tallied four shootout goals in seven rounds in their win against Calgary, tying a franchise record for most goals in a single shootout (3-2 SO win on Nov. 25, 2005 vs. Washington – 15 rounds; 3-2 SO win on Jan. 2, 2007 at New Jersey – eight rounds). Lundqvist is now 46-31 all-time in shootouts, ranking second in the NHL all-time in shootout wins (Ryan Miller, 47 shootout wins).
MILESTONES IN SIGHT: Derick Brassard – 2 points from 200th NHL career
INJURIES (73 Man-Games Lost):
Marc Staal (IR – concussion on 12/7, out indefinitely) – 8
Ryan Callahan (IR – sprained MCL on 12/10, 4 weeks) – 6
Photo by Scott Levy/Getty Images.