The Capitals–Rangers rivalry is a National Hockey League (NHL) rivalry between the Washington Capitals and the New York Rangers. Both teams compete in the NHL's Eastern Conference Metropolitan Division, and have had a rivalry since the early 1980s, when the Capitals joined the Patrick Division. The rivalry got heated in the 1990s, but has been most fired up as of 2015 with five series within seven years since 2009.
|First meeting||October 9, 1974
(Madison Square Garden)
|Latest meeting||February 28, 2017
(Madison Square Garden)
|Next meeting||April 5, 2017
|All-time series||126–116–18–6 (WSH)|
|Regular season series||98–89–18–6 (WSH)|
|Postseason results||27–24 (NYR)|
|Current win streak||NYR: W2|
With the League realigning to configure the new teams from the WHA, the Capitals were subsequently placed into the Patrick Division, the same division as the Rangers. However, the Capitals still struggled to make the playoffs finishing last in the division each year until 1983, where they finally made the playoffs for the first time in their history. The Rangers meanwhile were making the playoffs, but fell each year to the New York Islanders (except 1980). The Capitals, as well, lost to the Islanders each year until 1986.
During the 1986 playoffs, the two teams met for the first time in the playoffs. During the Patrick Division Final of these two rivals, the teams split the first 4 games before New York took games 5 and 6 to win the series. The Rangers' season came to an end when they were defeated by Montreal in the Wales Conference Final.
The teams met in the Patrick Division Final in 1990 with the Rangers winning the division title and beating their crosstown rival, the Islanders, in 5 games in the semifinal. The Capitals were coming off a 4–2 series win over the New Jersey Devils in the semifinal. Game 1 was taken by New York by a score of 7–3 with a hat trick by Bernie Nicholls. Washington took game 2 by a score of 6–3, however they lost their star forward Dino Ciccarelli to a knee injury in the process. Washington then dominated the rest of the series winning game 3 7–1 and game 4 4–3 in OT. John Druce would then score the series-winning goal in OT in game 5 in New York to send Washington to the Conference Final against the Boston Bruins. However, the President's Trophy-winning Bruins would sweep the Capitals in four straight.
The next year, the two met in the division semifinals. New York took Games 1 and 3 2–1 and 6–0 respectively. Washington took the next 3 games to defeat the Rangers in 6 games, but the Capitals lost against the eventual Stanley Cup-winning Pittsburgh Penguins. In 1992, both teams made the playoffs with the top two regular season records, but both lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins who won another Stanley Cup that year.
In 1994, the two would meet for the last time until 2009. New York won the President's Trophy that year and swept the Islanders in the first round while Washington defeated Pittsburgh in six games. New York took the first 3 games easily before Washington stayed alive by winning game 4. New York then took game 5 and became the eventual Stanley Cup champions, their first since 1940.
With the 1998 realignment moving the Capitals into the Southeast Division, and both teams struggling to make the playoffs until 2007, the rivalry died down. However, the emergence of Alex Ovechkin for the Capitals has allowed his team to reenter the playoffs after a three-year drought.
In 2009, the two teams met for the first time in the playoffs since 1994. New York Rangers took a 3–1 series lead in the conference quarterfinals after seeing Washington struggle in the first four games. However, Washington then dominated the rest of the series outscoring New York 11–4 and winning the series in 7. The Capitals would face the eventual Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins again, losing this time in 7 games.
In 2011, the teams met in the conference quarterfinals, with New York as the eighth seed and Washington first overall in the Eastern Conference. Washington won the series in five games but would be swept in the next round by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
In 2012, the teams met in the conference semifinals, with New York being the first in the east and Washington as seventh. New York had come off a hard-fought series against the Ottawa Senators while Washington had defeated the Stanley Cup-defending Bruins in 7 games. New York won every odd-numbered game in the series including a triple overtime win in game 3. New York would be defeated by their cross-river rivals, the New Jersey Devils.
In 2013, New York Rangers and Washington Capitals met in the conference quarterfinals. The home team took the first 5 games, thus allowing Washington to take a 3–2 series lead. However, Rangers' goaltender Henrik Lundqvist shutout Washington in games 6 and 7 to win the series.
In 2015, New York and Washington met in Second Round of the playoffs after the Capitals missed the previous year. Washington stormed to a 3–1 series lead with help from their goaltender Braden Holtby limiting the goals allowed to only 4. New York would then mount a comeback winning in game 5 on an overtime goal by Ryan McDonagh. After the loss in game 6, Washington' captain Alex Ovechkin made a guarantee that his team would come back and win game 7 similar to Mark Messier's guarantee about games 6 and 7 with the Rangers against the Devils after trailing the series 3–2. In game 7, Ovechkin's guarantee seemed to be working as he scored the first goal of the game, however, Kevin Hayes would tie it in the second period. In overtime, Ovechkin's guarantee proved to be false as the Rangers' Derek Stepan scored to send his team to the conference final for the second year in a row while the Capitals gave up their fifth all-time 3–1 series lead, the most in the NHL.