Washington Capitals look to complete stellar March, visit New York Rangers

Mar 28, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; New York Rangers center Colin Blackwell (43) scores a goal against Washington Capitals goaltender Ilya Samsonov (30) during the third period at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Capitals have been hotter than hot in the past few weeks and head to New York for a repeat engagement with the Rangers on Tuesday to try to extend their winning streak to four games.

Washington punctuated a 5-1-0 stretch at home with a 5-4 victory over the Rangers on Sunday afternoon. After New York won two February meetings, the Caps have won two of three against the Rangers in the past 10 days and have put together an 11-2 overall record in March.

After Sunday’s victory, led by two goals from Tom Wilson, one from Alex Ovechkin, and three points from T.J. Oshie (one goal, two assists), the Caps will try to win on the road.

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Still, Sunday’s victory was far from easy because once Washington took a 4-0 lead early in the third period, and the Rangers roared back. New York scored two quick goals before Oshie tallied his eighth of the season for a 5-2 Capitals lead, and they held on to win.

“Things are just kind of clicking right now. … Some of the big dogs are really, really carrying us,” Oshie said. “We’re finding the net right now, and it feels good.”

Washington has won 14 of its past 16 games and holds a 17-3-1 record over the past 21, rising to first place in the East Division.

The return to form of Evgeny Kuznetsov keeps giving the Caps a lift. He has made up for a slower start to the season, scoring the goal that pushed Washington to that 4-0 lead and now has four goals and eight assists in the past 10 games.

There was no word Monday about the condition of Lars Eller, who’s missed the past seven games due to a lower-body injury. That has forced coach Peter Laviolette to put Oshie at center at times — he’s a natural winger — and the veteran has come through.

For the Rangers, coach David Quinn returned after missing six games due to COVID-19. New York went 4-2-0 under acting coach Kris Knoblauch during that time, and Quinn lauded him Sunday for the way he kept things running smoothly.

Knoblauch, who served as an assistant in Sunday’s loss, is the head coach with Hartford in the AHL. Quinn said sitting out the six games gave him a new look on things.

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“I think when you step away from a situation, you do get a little bit of a different perspective,” he said. “You see things a little differently. I think you give yourself the chance to do some self-evaluation. It was a good opportunity for me to kind of reset and watch things from a different light.”

The Rangers will try to ride their strong four-goal third period from Sunday and give Washington more trouble on Tuesday. New York’s speed and quickness has caused the Caps many issues in their five meetings, and it’s a reason the Rangers rallied in Sunday’s game.

Colin Blackwell scored two goals on his 28th birthday to lead the comeback Sunday, which consisted of four goals in just over nine minutes. That cut the Capitals’ lead to 5-4 late, and despite putting pressure on the Washington defense New York could not tie the game.

–Field Level Media