Rangers vs. Capitals history in Stanley Cup Playoffs

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-New York Rangers at Washington Capitals
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

As the Stanley Cup Playoffs get underway this weekend, the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals are set to square off for their 10th all-time postseason meeting. This intense rivalry has produced some memorable moments spanning nearly four decades, with the Rangers holding a slight 5-4 series lead.

The Blueshirts have dominated recent encounters, winning the past three series consecutively, each in seven games. However, the Rangers and Capitals have not met in the postseason since 2015.

With a new chapter in the Rangers-Capitals rivalry on the horizon, let’s take a look back into the history of their playoff battles.

Related: Rangers vs. Capitals schedule, results, TV info for first-round playoff series

Stanley Cup Playoffs history between Rangers and Capitals

NHL: Washington Capitals at New York Rangers
Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Stanley Cup Playoffs history between the Rangers and Capitals began 38 years ago and includes a second-round matchup in 1994 when the Blueshirts went on to win the Stanley Cup.

1986 Patrick Division Finals – Rangers defeat Capitals 4-2

The 1986 Patrick Division Finals marked the first playoff encounter between the Rangers and the Capitals. This series was intensely competitive, with the first four games being evenly split between the two teams. The momentum shifted in the Rangers’ favor as they secured victories in both Games 5 and 6. Pierre Larouche stepped up to lead the Rangers offense, as he registered four points (three goals, one assist) in the final two games to send New York to the conference final.

1990 Patrick Division Finals – Capitals defeat Rangers 4-1

The 1990 Patrick Division Finals began with a surprising Rangers victory, fueled by Bernie Nicholls’ hat trick in a 7-3 win. However, the series took a dramatic turn when the Capitals, despite losing star forward Dino Ciccarelli to injury, rallied to dominate the subsequent games. Washington was led by unheralded forward John Druce, who emerged as a crucial player. The Capitals won the next three games, including the decisive Game 5 when Druce’s overtime goal in New York propelled the them to the Eastern Conference Final.

Related: Rangers hold massive edge in this area against Capitals

1991 Patrick Division Semifinals – Capitals defeat Rangers 4-2

In the 1991 Patrick Division Semifinals, the Rangers and Capitals traded victories early in the series, with the Rangers winning Games 1 and 3. However, the Capitals won the next three games and the series. Both goaltenders stood out, with Don Beaupré (14 GA, .920 save percentage) and Mike Richter (14 GA, .923 save percentage) finishing with nearly identical stats. Nicholls once again led the way for the Blueshirts with seven points (four goals, three assists), and Dale Hunter collected six points (all assists) for Washington.

1994 Eastern Conference Semifinals – Rangers defeat Capitals 4-1

The 1994 Eastern Conference Semifinals showcased the Rangers’ dominance as they easily took the first three games. Despite a brief resurgence from the Capitals in Game 4, the Rangers closed out the series at home in Game 5. This victory was a crucial step in their journey toward becoming the eventual Stanley Cup champions, breaking a 54-year championship drought in 1994.

2009 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals – Capitals defeat Rangers 4-3

This thrilling series began with the Rangers taking a commanding 3-1 lead. However, the tide turned dramatically with the Capitals outscoring the Rangers 11-4 in the final three games to win the series in seven. Despite Washington’s comeback, the highlight (or lowlight) of the series came in Game 5, when Rangers coach John Tortorella engaged in an altercation with fans at the Verizon Center. Frustrated by constant heckling from fans behind the bench, Tortorella sprayed water at them and then threw the water bottle into the crowd, striking a fan. He further escalated the situation by grabbing a hockey stick and gesturing threateningly towards the hecklers. This led to his suspension for Game 6 by the NHL, drawing significant media attention and criticism for his unprofessional conduct.

2011 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals – Capitals defeat Rangers 4-1 

In the 2011 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, the top-seeded Capitals faced the eighth-seeded Rangers. The Caps displayed their superior play throughout the series, managing to secure victories in four out of five games. The most notable game of the series was Game 4 at Madison Square Garden, when the Rangers let a 3-0 lead get away in the third period, forcing overtime. Jason Chimera scored the game winner in double-overtime, sending Washington home with a 3-1 series lead.

2012 Eastern Conference Semifinals – Rangers defeat Capitals 4-3 

The 2012 series was a rollercoaster, with the Rangers winning all odd-numbered games. Highlights included a triple-overtime victory in Game 3 when Marian Gaborik scored the game winner, and a dramatic Game 5, when Brad Richards’ last-second goal forced overtime, allowing Marc Staal to win it with a power-play goal early in the extra period.

2013 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals – Rangers defeat Capitals 4-3

This series was defined by home-ice advantage and four consecutive one-goal games (Games 2-5), until the Rangers broke the pattern in Games 6 and 7. Down 3-2 in the series, Henrik Lundqvist posted back-to-back shutout victories to propel New York to a come-from-behind series win.

2015 Eastern Conference Semifinals – Rangers defeat Capitals 4-3 

Facing a 3-1 series deficit, the Rangers staged a remarkable comeback, initiated by Chris Kreider’s tying goal late in Game 5, followed by Ryan McDonagh’s overtime winner. New York won Game 6 in Washington, forcing a dramatic seventh game, when despite Alex Ovechkin’s early goal and a bold guarantee of victory, the Rangers completed their comeback in overtime. Derek Stepan’s series-winning goal not only sent the Rangers to the conference final, but added to the Capitals’ history of squandering 3-1 leads in playoff series.

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