Capitals take first crack at eliminating Rangers
Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 3:00 PM
Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff WriterRANGERS at CAPITALS
(Washington leads best-of-seven series 3-1)
TV: NBC (HD), TSN (HD), RDS (HD)
The Capitals are in a familiar position, leading their first-round series 3-1 with a chance to close out a No. 8 seed at home. Last year, as the top seed, they lost Games 5-7 to the Montreal Canadiens. The Capitals are coming off a stirring, come-from-behind, 4-3 double overtime victory at Madison Square Garden in Game 4. They entered the third period trailing 3-0 but got a goal from Alexander Semin
and two from Marcus Johansson
to force overtime, where Jason Chimera
scored the winner in the second OT. If the Caps can bottle their play from the third period and extra sessions and bring it to the start of Game 5, they will be headed to the second round.
The message has been clear during the two days off since Game 4 -- their confidence hasn't wavered and they must keep it simple to keep their season alive. The confidence comes from knowing they could easily be the team leading the series 3-1 if not for two blown third-period leads and a pair of losses in overtime. They are just trying to focus on the first 40 minutes of Game 4 and will attempt to have the same start in a must-win Game 5.
"It's been tight games, no question. If we weren't unlucky, it could've been a different story," said goaltender Henrik Lundqvist
, who will make his 31st straight start. "But it is what it is. We're down 3-1. We have to accept it. I think we all believe in each other and believe we can do it. That's where it starts."
It wasn't the start they wanted, but it was the ending they needed. Now the Capitals head home looking for a more consistent performance from start to finish in order to advance to the second round. They might have to play a second straight game without Mike Knuble
, who missed Game 4 with what is likely a hand injury, although no specifics have been released by the team.
Knuble skated Thursday.
"I call myself day-to-day," Knuble told reporters who were asked by a team representative not to ask questions about the specifics of his injury. "You've got to do your best to stay in shape and keep your conditioning or whatever.
"[Game 5] is up in the air -- we won't know until (Friday) or maybe even Saturday morning, Saturday game time."
Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky
has 2 goals and 1 assist in the past two games. … Capitals defenseman Mike Green
has had one assist in each game. Chimera has 2 goals in his past three games.
Knuble is the only new injury of the series for either team.
The Rangers' power play has lost its way. Not only is it 1-for-18 in the series, but it's only generated 17 shots with the extra man. The Rangers have been down 3-1 in series 14 times and have never come back to win. The last five times they were in a 3-1 hole, they lost Game 5.
"My gut tells me we're going to have a good game. We're ready to play. I just have a really good feeling." -- Rangers coach John Tortorella