Capitals beat Rangers to clinch Presidents' Trophy again

The Washington Capitals clinched the Presidents' Trophy on Wednesday night with a 2-0 victory against the New York Rangers. Caps goalie Braden Holtby made 24 saves and collected his league leading ninth shutout. Robin Lehner stopped 31 shots in a game the Sabres hung on to win after building a 2-0 lead through two periods. It was his sixth goal of the season. The Rangers are averaging 3.2 goals per game and are scoring on 20.1 percent of their power play opportunities. Winger Marcus Johansson assist on both goals tonight and has four assists in last four games.

Washington Capitals left wing Andre Burakovsky (65), of Austria, chases the puck against New York Rangers right wing Pavel Buchnevich (89), of Russian Federation, during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Wednesday, April 5, 2017, in Washington. The Capitals have earned a point in 16 of their last 18 games against Metropolitan Division teams (14-2-2).

Actually ... Capitals fans might spend most of their time arguing with people who will make inevitable jokes about success in the regular season vs. disappointments in the playoffs. Since the first season of the Presidents' Trophy in 1986, only eight of the 29 award winners also wrote their names on the Stanley Cup.

Since a four-season stretch from 1998-99 through 2001-02 when the Presidents' Trophy victor won the Stanley Cup three times, it's happened twice: the Red Wings in 2007-08 and the Blackhawks in 2012-13.

The Capitals didn't acknowledge their accomplishment, but they understood what was at stake. In that series, the Capitals were swept by the defending champion Detroit Red Wings. On the other side, the over has cashed in all four of the Rangers' last four games overall, is 5-1-2 in their last eight games following a win, and is 3-1-1 in their last five conference games. That didn't prevent their history from being dredged up again when they lost to the Penguins in the second round.

The Capitals were eliminated by the eventual Cup-champion Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round past year and got knocked out in the first round by the Canadiens in 2010.

  • Julie Sanders