Rangers lose games, patience before facing Caps

The secret to success for the New York Rangers is pretty simple: Don't allow more than three goals per game. Unfortunately for the Rangers, the Washington Capitals might be stirring, and they're coming to town Wednesday night.

The Rangers will look to slow down the high-powered Capitals when the two Metropolitan Division rivals meet in the second of their four scheduled regular-season meetings.

Both teams enter the game in the midst of mini-streaks. The Rangers lost their second straight on Saturday, when they completed a rough two-game road trip by falling to the Florida Panthers 4-3. The Capitals won their second in a row Monday by beating the visiting Anaheim Ducks 5-2.

The loss to the Panthers dropped the Rangers to 1-7-1 when allowing four goals or more. New York is 7-1-1 when surrendering three goals or fewer.

The Rangers' all-or-nothing defensive tendencies -- they entered Tuesday with 66 goals allowed, tied for 10th most in the NHL -- were amplified during their Florida trek, when the Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning combined for seven power play goals while outscoring New York 13-6.

Head coach David Quinn lost his patience Saturday, when he benched left winger Pavel Buchnevich and center Micheal Haley for taking penalties that led to power play goals in the first period. Haley was waived by the Rangers on Sunday.

"If you take a lazy penalty, you're going to get benched -- and I should have done that 16 games ago," Quinn told reporters afterward. "So better late than never, I guess."

The Capitals, whose 36 points entering Tuesday were seven more than anyone else in the NHL, also lead the circuit with 89 goals, 15 more than the Panthers. But the win over the Ducks ended a four-game stretch in which Washington scored three goals or fewer.

The Capitals still collected five of eight possible points in that span (2-1-1) was an encouraging development for head coach Todd Reirden.

"That's a good problem to have, a lot of offense up and down the lineup," Reirden told reporters before Monday's game. "But it is hard to sustain, and I'm glad we've gotten into some lower-scoring games so we can be more comfortable in those."

The Capitals are sure to be down at least one player Wednesday after right winger Garnet Hathaway earned an automatic suspension for spitting at Ducks defenseman Erik Gudbranson after Gudbranson punched him at the end of a scrum behind the Anaheim net. Hathaway has to sit out until NHL commissioner Gary Bettman hands down a punishment. Washington has maxed out the salary cap and had no healthy extra players as of Monday night.

Two former Vezina Trophy winners are expected to oppose one another Wednesday night. It will be the third straight start for Henrik Lundqvist, who fell into a timeshare earlier this season with Alexandar Georgiev. Lundqvist took the loss Saturday after making 26 saves against the Panthers.

Braden Holtby will likely start again for the Capitals are earning the win Monday, when he stopped 32 shots against the Ducks.

Lundqvist is 21-13-7 in 41 regular-season games against the Capitals. Holtby is 13-9-1 in 24 regular-season appearances against the Rangers.
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