NHL Hockey

Caps' Ovechkin aims to extend points streak vs. Rangers

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Things are trending upwards for the Washington Capitals of late and Alex Ovechkin is on a roll.

Ovechkin attempts to extend his points streak to nine games and Washington seeks its fourth consecutive win on Sunday afternoon when it visits the New York Rangers.

Ovechkin scored his 45th goal in the third period of Friday's 3-1 win over the New York Islanders in Long Island and reached 45 goals for the 10th time, more than any player in NHL history. During his second-longest points streak of the season, Ovechkin has totaled seven goals and four assists, and his goal capped a night when the Capitals scored all their goals in the third period.

"That's a big step in the overall growth of our game, to not start to look to cheat for offense or any of those things," Washington coach Todd Reirden said. "We spent a ton of time in the offensive zone and carried the play, and eventually we were going to earn some power plays -- a power play -- and be able to convert on some chances. It's an important team win for us."

The Capitals also are 6-2 during Ovechkin's streak and 10-4-1 in their last 15 games since a seven-game skid Jan. 12-23. During its three-game streak, the Capitals have 16 goals and 11 different players have scored.

"You can see that everybody right now play well and play hard because we know that at this time of year, everybody have to step up and play the same way like we did last year," Ovechkin said. "We have experience that helps us, and we're growing up as a group."

Washington's surge has tied them with the Islanders for the most points in the Metropolitan Division. The Islanders are slated to host Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon about 2 1/2 hours after the faceoff in Madison Square Garden.

The Capitals will be playing the Rangers for the second time in a week. Last Sunday afternoon, the Capitals recorded a wild 6-5 overtime win when Evgeny Kuznetsov scored the game-winning goal.

New York is on a three-game losing streak and has lost four of its last five games (1-4-0). The Rangers are playing their third game since dealing defenseman Adam McQuaid, Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Hayes ahead of last Monday's trade deadline.

The Rangers are coming off a 4-2 home loss to Montreal on Friday night when they were unable to deal with some fluky bounces. New York allowed the go-ahead goal after Montreal's dump-in pass caromed off the end boards and the puck eventually eluded Henrik Lundqvist and into the net.

"It's a tough bounce, obviously," said Lundqvist, who stopped 32 of 35 shots. "This was a game we played good enough to win, but that goal changed a lot. It changed the momentum. After that first (goal), you could see we got a little tense. They get that bounce on the second one, and it's a different game after that."

Brendan Lemieux scored his first goal as a Ranger after being obtained from Winnipeg for Hayes. Vladimir Namestnikov, who was one of the players obtained at last year's deadline, also scored for the Rangers.

"Bad bounces and quirky plays and it ends up in the back of the net," Rangers coach David Quinn said. "That being said, we have to be mentally tough enough to not feel sorry for ourselves and keep playing."

The Rangers also unveiled another member of their youth movement in Libor Hajek, who was acquired from Tampa Bay last season for Ryan McDonagh. He became the sixth player 21 years old or younger to appear in a game for the team, marking the first instance since the 1989-90 season.

Besides last week's win, Washington also recorded a 5-3 win in New York on Nov. 24 and a 4-3 overtime home win on Oct. 17. The Capitals also have won the last five meetings and are 6-0-1 in the last seven encounters.

--Field Level Media

Updated March 3, 2019

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