- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Locked into the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, the New York Rangers rested six banged-up players for their game Wednesday night against the Washington Capitals.

Forward Mats Zuccarello, Rick Nash and Jesper Fast and defensemen Ryan McDonagh, Brady Skjei and Nick Holden were out with various minor injuries. Coach Alain Vigneault had previously ruled out Zuccarello, Nash, Fast and McDonagh and added Skjei and Holden to his scratches about two hours before puck drop.

“Everyone felt that Nick and Brady both had some minor bumps and bruises, so a little extra time off would not hurt them,” Vigneault said. “If our situation was where we needed the points, those guys would be playing right now. But nothing’s going to change for us, so we can give a little bit more ice time to some guys that haven’t played in a while and we can make sure those (injured) guys are 100 percent come playoff time.”

New York will open the playoffs next week against the Atlantic Division-champion Montreal Canadiens. Vigneault said the Rangers’ focus would remain on their final regular-season games before planning for Montreal.

On the verge of clinching their second consecutive Presidents’ Trophy and home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs, the Capitals sat defenseman John Carlson for the second consecutive night with a lower-body injury. Coach Barry Trotz didn’t consider the injury serious, calling Carlson “day to day or hour to hour.”

The Capitals are being cautious with Carlson and could the same with others in their final two games once they wrap up what Trotz called “unfinished business.”

“At this point, if someone has something nagging and they feel that it’s better to rest, then we’re resting them,” Trotz said. “Not a big deal.”

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