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Capitals must play in the traffic

Friday, 04.17.2009 / 1:59 PM / 2009 Playoffs Conference Quarterfinals

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Before the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal round began, Washington sniper Alex Ovechkin said Henrik Lundqvist's pads look big.

After one game, Ovechkin now believes there is a way to beat the Rangers' gold-medal winning goalie.

"We have to make some traffic," Ovechkin said Friday after a light-hearted, spirited practice at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex. "We have to make some rebounds. We have to pay some price."

Ovechkin doesn't think the Capitals created enough of a challenge for Lundqvist in Game 1. They fired 35 shots on net and scored three goals, but a lot of their attempts were from the perimeter and Lundqvist is rarely going to have a problem stopping those.

Two of the Capitals' goals were scored on the power play.

"In 5-on-5 we have to improve ourselves," said Ovechkin, who had 13 shots on goal and two assists. "We have to score more goals in 5-on-5."

Capitals defenseman Mike Green agrees with Ovechkin's assessment, but also believes the Rangers did a masterful job of closing out the shooting lanes Wednesday night.

New York was credited with 21 blocked shots in Game 1, more than any other team had in the playoffs so far. The Rangers were 26th in the NHL in blocked shots during the regular season.

"They're not afraid to get in front of it, but that's playoff hockey," Green said.

"I was in front of the net (on the power play) and there wasn't much of a lane for our guys to shoot," added Capitals forward Brooks Laich. "Their forwards did a great job of blocking shots."

Blocked shots won't be a factor if the Capitals find a way to get the puck deeper and shoot from closer in on Lundqvist. The Rangers, meanwhile, got in deep on the Capitals and scored all of their four goals on Jose Theodore from the hash marks or below.

"I mean, guys were getting shots from the slot," Green said. "If we're getting shots from the slot we're usually going to score, too. We can't leave (Theodore) out to dry like that."

Other than the traffic, Ovechkin said he wouldn't have changed anything about the way the Capitals' played Wednesday night, offensively or defensively, which has leads him to believe the outcome could be different Saturday.

According to Washington coach Bruce Boudreau, who broke down the Game 1 film, the Rangers had only eight scoring chances and no second-chance opportunities, which "is about as good as a team can do in the NHL."

"They didn't have many chances to score goals, but it's the playoffs and if you do get chances to score goals you have to use them," Ovechkin said. "We didn't use our chances and we lost the game. Next game, we just have to use our chances, play smart in the offensive zone and be more responsible on our chances."

Contact Dan Rosen at drosen@nhl.com

Quote of the Day

Just the feel for the direction they were headed and what they're trying to do, it just felt that this is a really good thing for this organization. They've got the pieces. We can put something together and go on a run or two and be together for a while, and I'm really excited about that opportunity. The team we have here has an opportunity to win, and that's the most attractive thing.

— Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen on why he decided to sign with the Capitals