New York Rangers (18-18-2) at Washington Capitals (19-14-4)
|Date & Time||Friday December 27, 2013, 7:00 PM (EST)|
The Line: Washington Capitals -131 / New York Rangers +119 --- Over/Under: 5.5
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After losing six of their first seven games on a season high nine game home stand the New York Rangers salvaged things a bit with wins on consecutive nights. One night after a 4-1 win over the Minnesota Wild on Sunday night the Rangers went back to their backup goaltender Cam Talbot as they looked for another win. Talbot has been the biggest reason why the Rangers are hovering around .500 and not in a stay of complete disarray behind Henrik Lundqvist. New York's star goaltender has been abysmal this season and so the last two games the coach has turned to Talbot to lead the way. Talbot allowed a late third period goal that was controversial against the Toronto Maple Leafs that sent the game to overtime tied 1-1, but he came through in the shootout to lift New York to the 2-1 win. It was a game that shouldn't have even been that close but the Rangers struggled to capitalize on their offensive chances. Now they'll look to go around the road and find some sort of consistency that they haven't been able to find all season long. When the Rangers have played well this season they look like a dynamic club that moves the puck quickly up the ice and uses their speed to give the opposition fits. When the Rangers struggle this season they lack intensity, a strong forecheck, and turn the puck over again and again coming up the ice. Their opponent on Friday night will be the Washington Capitals and they can really hurt New York if they give away the puck in the neutral zone. The Capitals have lost three of their last four games and are trying to bounce back after blowing a 2-0 lead to the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night. Washington got first period goals from Mikhail Grabovski and Nicklas Backstrom but Philipp Grubauer allowed three consecutive goals including the game winner late in the third period as the Ducks rallied for a 3-2 win. Like much of the Metropolitan Division clubs the Capitals have been up and down this year but they still find themselves in second place in the division. Friday night's game is a big one for the Capitals who will find themselves on the road for four of the next five games. This is a tough one to call because the Capitals have been the better hockey club and there's no telling what New York is going to do in goal at this point. If the Rangers can carry over their game from Sunday and Monday into this one they should have a chance to steal one here.