Rangers host Caps trying to push win streak to 7

(SportsNetwork.com) - The New York Rangers will try to extend their longest winning streak of the season to seven games when they host the surging Washington Capitals in Tuesday's tilt at Madison Square Garden.

New York has won six in a row to post the club's longest win streak since a seven-game tear from Oct. 31-Nov. 15, 2011. The defending Eastern Conference champions posted their two most recent victories in a home-and-home sweep of the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Rangers won a 3-2 shootout decision over Carolina on Saturday, completing a perfect four-game road trip with the victory at PNC Arena. New York then beat the Hurricanes 1-0 in regulation Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

Cam Talbot earned the shutout with 18 saves in the home portion. The win came two days after Talbot signed an extension with the Rangers, and Henrik Lundqvist's backup is now 3-3-1 on the season with all three of his victories coming via shutouts.

"It was a lot of fun, not a whole lot of work, so it's always a good thing," Talbot said. "The guys played really well in front of me and they didn't give them a whole lot of quality opportunities which is always nice when you haven't played a game in a few weeks."

Ryan McDonagh scored in the first period to give Talbot all the support he needed. New York's captain notched his second goal of the season just 4:10 into the contest.

Sunday's win pushed New York's record within the Metropolitan Division over the last 10 games to 9-0-1 and the Blueshirts will try to earn their 10th divisional win of the season tonight. The Rangers are two points behind the Capitals for the division's third automatic playoff berth.

New York is 4-2-1 in its last seven meetings with the Capitals overall. The Blueshirts also own a 4-2-1 mark in the past seven encounters at MSG.

Lundqvist is expected to start tonight for the Rangers. He is 16-8-3 with a 2.55 goals against average in 27 career outings against Washington.

Washington enters tonight's Metro showdown riding a three-game winning streak. The Capitals played Monday night against visiting Ottawa and posted a 2-1 decision over the Senators. The victory also added to Washington's point streak, which is now at nine games (7-0-2).

Braden Holtby's outstanding performance between the pipes kept the Capitals on a roll in the win over the Sens. Holtby recorded 38 saves in a game in which the Capitals were outshot by 39-23 count, with Nicklas Backstrom accounting for the deciding goal on a power play late in the second period.

"Holts bailed us out and gave us the chance to win," said Capitals forward Jay Beagle, who scored Washington's other goal.

Mike Green assisted on both of the Capitals' markers.

Justin Peters could save Holtby from playing on back-to-back nights tonight. The backup goalie is 0-1-0 with a 3.82 GAA in two career games -- one start -- against the Rangers. Holtby is 2-3-1 with a 1.89 GAA in his career versus New York.

Washington is beginning a three-game road trip tonight and will continue the swing after the Christmas break with Saturday's away game versus Pittsburgh. The Caps are 5-0-1 in their last six road tests and boast a 10-5-2 record away from D.C. this season.

The Rangers are 10-5-3 as the host and will complete a three-game homestand when it welcomes the New Jersey Devils on Saturday.