Gaborik, Rangers Battle Caps, Ovechkin
New York Rangers
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(AP) — The Washington Capitals hope Alex Ovechkin is finally regaining his consistency. The injury-ravaged New York Rangers are still looking for some from Marian Gaborik.
Coming off his first hat trick of the season, Ovechkin looks to help the Capitals continue their recent domination of the Rangers on Monday night as they seek some revenge for their most lopsided defeat of 2010-11.
Ovechkin has endured a sub-par season by his standards, with just 19 goals and 32 assists. The four-time 50-goal scorer has been unable to maintain his usually high level of production for extended stretches.
The Capitals (27-14-8) had to be encouraged by what they saw Saturday, when Ovechkin scored three times in a 4-1 win over Toronto, giving him four goals and two assists in three games.
“You knew eventually he was going to break out,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “I thought he was as good as he’s been all year.”
Boudreau will again be looking for Ovechkin to get on a roll Monday, but that might be difficult against the Rangers (28-19-3). New York, which has allowed among the fewest goals in the league with 121, has held Ovechkin without a goal in the last three meetings.
The most recent one of those came Dec. 12, a 7-0 Rangers home victory that was the sixth defeat in the Caps’ season-high eight-game losing streak. Ovechkin fought New York’s Brandon Dubinsky in the contest.
That broke Washington’s four-game win streak in the series, which the Caps have controlled of late by going 9-2-1 in the last 12 meetings. Ovechkin has been more productive against the Rangers at the Verizon Center in his career, recording seven goals and five assists to help Washington win eight of 10 home matchups.
He was held with a goal in the last two of those and three of four, however.
The Caps have three regulation losses in the last 19 matchups with the Rangers in Washington.
New York is badly in need of steady production out of its talented winger as well as it deals with a slew of injuries. Gaborik scored four times in a 7-0 victory over Toronto on Wednesday, but those were his only goals in 11 games and came one game after he was benched for part of the contest.
Despite three games with at least three goals this season, Gaborik has only 15 goals overall.
Another matchup with the Caps might get him going again. He has five goals and two assists in five games against them since joining the Rangers before last season, and scored Dec. 12.
Another strong effort from Gaborik could help overcome a series of injuries, as Dubinsky leads a long list of key players out for the Rangers.
Gaborik didn’t record a point in Saturday’s 3-2 shootout win over Atlanta, during which that list grew. Defenseman Dan Girardi hurt his ribs during a fight, and left wing Brandon Prust suffered a foot injury when he was hit by a slap shot.
Both are uncertain for Monday for the Rangers, who used six rookies in the lineup.
“We had many guys out,” said Henrik Lundqvist, who made 20 saves through overtime before adding three more in the tiebreaker. “We tried to rebuild the team a little bit. We’re trying to get everybody on the same page.
“We’re not in an easy spot, but we’re doing the best we can now to get points.”
Wojtek Wolski, acquired from Phoenix on Jan. 10 to provide offensive depth, scored a goal Saturday. He has three goals and three assists in six games with New York.
Updated January 23, 2011
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