The Capitals opened the campaign with seven consecutive wins to post the franchise's best-ever start to a season, but Washington has gone just 5-7-1 in 13 games since. With recent home wins over Phoenix and Winnipeg, Washington has notched back-to-back victories for just the second time since its season- opening tear.
The Rangers, meanwhile, have done the opposite recently, losing two in a row on the heels of a season-best seven-game winning streak. New York scored just one goal in losing consecutive tilts to Montreal and Florida.
Washington ended a four-game slide with a 4-3 regulation win over Phoenix on Monday and the Caps recorded an overtime win by the same score Wednesday against visiting Winnipeg. Jason Chimera scored the game-winning goal 1:52 into OT to lift the Capitals to the triumph over the Jets.
Dennis Wideman set up the game-winner in overtime, grabbing a loose puck and snapping a pass to a wide-open Chimera in front of the net. The veteran buried the puck for his team-leading eighth goal of the season.
The Caps played without defenseman John Erskine in the last two games and he is questionable for this afternoon's test with a shoulder injury. Fellow blueliner Mike Green has sat out six straight with a groin issue and is not expected to play today.
Today's test marks the end of a three-game homestand for the Caps, who have a stellar 8-1-1 record in D.C. this year.
The Rangers, who are 5-4-2 as the road club this year, opened their current four-game trip with a win over the New York Islanders, but have since dropped tests in Montreal and Florida.
After losing 4-0 to the Canadiens on Saturday, the Blueshirts were dealt a 2-1 regulation loss by the Panthers on Wednesday. Derek Stepan had the lone Ranger tally, while Henrik Lundqvist was stellar in defeat, finishing with 36 saves.
"We know we have to play better," Lundqvist said. "It's going to be another couple of tough games here the rest of the week, so we have to improve and be better in all areas."
Rangers defenseman Marc Staal, who has yet to play this season due to a concussion suffered in the preseason, has joined the club for this road trip, but he will sit out another game today.
Today's contest marks the first of four meetings between the Caps and Rangers this season. New York took the last three encounters last season, ending Washington's four-game winning streak in the series. New York has taken two straight and three of the last four meetings in the nation's capital.