The Washington Capitals will look to close out their season on a high note against the New York Rangers in Game 82, and they will have to do so without two stars.
Per The Washington Post’s Samantha Pell, head coach Peter Laviolette said that Ovechkin will miss his third straight game and the regular-season finale in the Big Apple as he continues to work through an upper-body injury. Meanwhile, Nicklas Backstrom will also miss Friday’s tilt as he takes a maintenance day and rests with the Stanley Cup Playoffs starting next week.
Washington (44-23-12) has something at stake in Friday’s tilt and a lot to prove after dropping back-to-back games in flat, lackluster fashion. If the Capitals defeat the Rangers and if the Pittsburgh Penguins fall to the Columbus Blue Jackets in regulation, Washington can jump from the second Wild Card spot into third place in the Metro. This would set the Capitals up for a first-round meeting with New York rather than facing the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Florida Panthers.
Ilya Samsonov will get the start between the pipes for Game 82. It will be his last chance to make a bid for the No. 1 job heading into the postseason.
When it comes to names to watch, keep an eye on Anthony Mantha, who has points in two of his last three games, as well as Axel Jonsson-Fjallby, who scored the lone goal in Thursday’s loss to the Islanders. Meanwhile, with Backstrom and Ovechkin out, Connor McMichael will draw back in.
On the Rangers side, look out for 50-goal scorer Chris Kreider, who has points in five straight games and goals in two of his last three.