Caps (27-14-8, 62 points) vs. Rangers (28-19-3, 59 points)
What » Game #50
Where » Verizon Center
When » 7:30 p.m.
TV » VERSUS
Radio » WFED-1500 AM
After a successful 2-0-1 road trip, the Caps return home to face the New York Rangers at Verizon Center. Last time these two teams met the Rangers dropped a 7-0 whipping on Washington at Madison Square Garden. Bruce Boudreau remembers that as the low point of the eight-game losing streak last month.
“Low point of my life,” he added.’
Okay, maybe it wasn’t that bad. The Caps are 9-2-4 with 22 points since that streak ended against Ottawa on Dec. 19. Seeing the Rangers again isn’t a bad thing. Boudreau felt his team played a pretty good first period – a goal by Brian Boyle late in the period the lone tally. But things fell apart in the second. New York scored 59 seconds into the second against Semyon Varlamov and the deluge began.
No Varlamov tonight. He sits again with rookie Braden Holtby – the first goalie off the ice at the morning skate – expected to start his third game in a row. He stopped 59 of 61 shots against the Islanders and Maple Leafs in back-to-back victories.
“[Holtby] is an unbelievable goalie. I’ve said that since we both got drafted,” said defenseman – and fellow rookie – John Carlson. “He’s a great goalie. You see him working hard every day. You don’t expect it out of a kid like that [coming up from AHL Hershey], but it’s nice to see when he gets such good results.”
Rest of the lineup looks the same as the last two games – though Marcus Johansson appeared to be taking rushes on the third line with Matt Hendricks and Jay Beagle. Mathieu Perreault was on the second with Brooks Laich and Mike Knuble.
Injury updates: Alex Semin (lower-body injury) and Matt Bradley (broken finger) skated this morning, but Boudreau thinks both will return after the All-Star break. Neither defenseman Tom Poti (lower-body injury) nor goalie Michal Neuvirth (lower-body injury) were on the ice at all. They look like definite post-All-Star break returns.
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