Rangers to face Capitals in 1st round of Stanley Cup Playoffs

NHL: Washington Capitals at New York Rangers
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers quest to win their first Stanley Cup championship in 30 years will begin against a familiar postseason foe.

The Rangers will face off against the Washington Capitals in a best-of-7 first-round series after the Capitals clinched the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference on Tuesday.

It will be the 10th time these rivals have played one another in the playoffs, though the first since 2015. The Rangers are 5-4 all-time in the postseason against the Capitals and have won each of the past three series.

Related: What’s next for Rangers after winning Presidents’ Trophy

Rangers to face Capitals in 1st round of Stanley Cup Playoffs

NHL: Ottawa Senators at New York Rangers
Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Rangers are the top seed in the NHL, having secured their fourth Presidents’ Trophy in franchise history this season when they set team records for wins (55) and points (114). They will have home-ice advantage in each series they play in these playoffs, including Round 1 against the Capitals, who return to postseason play after failing to qualify last season.

New York was 30-11-0 on home ice at Madison Square Garden this season. Washington was 18-19-4 on the road, including a dramatic 2-1 win Tuesday in Philadelphia against the Flyers.

With that game tied 1-1, the Flyers pulled their goalie for the extra attacker, believing they needed to win in regulation to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. However, they had already been eliminated from contention when the Detroit Red Wings gained a point after their game against the Montreal Canadiens went to overtime.

T.J. Oshie scored the go-ahead goal for the Capitals with three minutes to play, a gift, in a way, from the Flyers. If Washington had not gone on to win Tuesday, Detroit would have clinched the final playoff spot in the East and been New York’s first round opponent since the Red Wings ended up defeating the Canadiens 5-4 in the shootout.

The Rangers and Capitals faced each other four times during the regular season and each team won two games. The Rangers won twice at The Garden, 5-1 on Dec. 27 and 2-1 on Jan. 14. The Capitals held serve at Capital One Arena, shutting the Rangers out 4-0 on Dec. 9 and winning again 3-2 on Jan. 13.

The Metropolitan Division rivals met in the playoffs in three straight years from 2011-2013 and four out of five, including 2015. In that stretch of memorable postseason games, the Capitals defeated the Rangers in five games in 2011 before the Rangers won the next three series, each in seven games, including a thrilling comeback from 3-1 down in 2015.

Jim Cerny is Executive Editor at Forever Blueshirts and Managing Editor at Sportsnaut, with more than 30 years of... More about Jim Cerny

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