NHL Odds: Rangers, Caps in duel of stingy squads

By: Joe Freda | Sunday, January 23, 2011

Semyon Varlamov allowed seven goals in the last meeting with the Rangers.

The New York Rangers are 7-6 in their last 13 games, with the ‘under’ going 11-1-1.  John Tortorella’s troops complete a three-game road trip with Monday’s duel against the Washington Capitals, whose ‘under’ backers have collected at 23-4-1 in their last 28 contests.

New York went to a shootout in Saturday’s 3-2 win as a 106 road dog against the Atlanta Thrashers.  Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist held Atlanta’s skaters to 0-for-3 in the deciding frame, while New York’s Mats Zuccarello connected on a 10-foot wristshot for his squad’s clincher.

Lundqvist finished with 20 saves in regulation time, with his mates outshooting the Thrashers in that span, 29-22.  The Sweden native improved to 21-15-3 (45 points) in his 39 starts, while lowering his GAA to 2.25.

New York’s Brian Boyle and Wojtek Wolski each poked one goal, uniting for 10 shots.  Boyle’s scoring strike was the third in his last five games, while Wolski picked up his fifth point in his last four outings.

The tight affair’s five combined goals ducked ‘under’ the NHL odds.  New York was outdrawn in faceoffs, 30-22, while both squads united to go 0-for-5 on power plays.

The Rangers lifted their record to 16-9-1 (33 points) in their first 26 road games, with the ‘under’ moving to 18-7-1.  Boyle and Co. have killed 81.8 percent of their penalties in that span.

Washington notched a second straight win in Saturday’s 4-1 triumph as a 125 road favorite against the Toronto Maple Leafs.  Capitals left wing Alexander Ovechkin scored three of his squad’s goals on eight shots, notching his 10th career hat trick.

Ovechkin’s mate Nicklas Backstrom logged a team-high two assists, extending his streak of games with at least one point to five.  The centerman struggled in the faceoff circles, winning a sparse 3-of-13 draws.

Capitals netminder Braden Holtby stopped 35-of-36 shots, achieving first star honors.  The rookie made his second straight start after being recalled from the AHL’s Hershey Bears, improving to 4-2-1 (9 points) in seven outings with Washington.

The lopsided battle’s five goals dipped below the 5 ½-goal ‘total.’  Washington was outshot by the Maple Leafs, 36-31, while being outdrawn in faceoffs, 32-26.

Holtby could stay in net for Monday’s matchup if veteran goalies Semyon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth are unable to start.  Varlamov (2.22 GAA) may remain as a backup due to recovering from a knee sprain, while Neuvirth (15-6-4, 34 points) is listed as “questionable” on the DonBest.com injury report with a groin pull.

Washington is 16-5-5 (37 points) in its first 26 home dates, with the ‘under’ cashing at 19-4-3.  Bruce Boudreau’s crew has launched 33.1 SOG per game in that stretch.

The Capitals are 7-2 in their last nine meetings against the Rangers, with the ‘over’ going 5-3-1.

New York won the most recent clash between the rivals, 7-0, as a 100 home dog.  Lundqvist logged 31 saves in the Dec. 12 shutout, while Varlamov allowed all seven goals for Washington.

Monday’s rematch is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. (PT), with Versus providing the national television coverage.

New York is playing the front end of a back-to-back spot, returning home for Tuesday’s game against the Florida Panthers.  Washington will be off for one day, visiting the Atlanta Thrashers as part of Wednesday’s league slate.

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