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Rangers' plan pays off

Thursday, 04.23.2009 / 12:30 AM / 2009 Playoffs Conference Quarterfinals

By John McGourty - NHL.com Staff Writer

The New York Rangers' plan for Game 4 against the Washington Capitals was simple: Get off to a good start, fill the middle on defense, play strong against Alex Ovechkin and try to deny time and space for defenseman Mike Green, a 30-goal scorer.

Thanks to some good execution -- and a big dose of Henrik Lundqvist's goaltending -- it worked. Lundqvist made 38 saves and the Rangers got goals by Paul Mara and Chris Drury to beat the
Caps 2-1 Wednesday night, giving New York a 3-1 lead in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series.
 
Getting off to a 2-0 lead in the game's first 22:23 was key.

"They are a pretty good hockey team. I thought it was important that we got off to a good start and we did," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "We need to be more cognizant of getting pucks to the net, not wide of the net. They turned it up and we fought and we scrambled at times. Hank (Lundqvist) had to make some great saves."

Mara gave his team a 1-0 lead at 13:55 of the first period when Brandon Dubinsky won a faceoff to the left point and Mara's shot hit Capitals defenseman John Erskine and went into the net.

"I just won a faceoff and Paul made a great shot, looking for a tip," Dubinsky said. "Fortunately for us, their guy made the tip for us, rather than us having to do it."

Chris Drury roofed his own rebound 2:23 into the second period, and the Rangers relied on Lundqvist the rest of the way. Only Ovechkin's laser early in the third period beat him.

Tortorella said that while the Rangers executed their game plan, they needed luck, good bounces and great goaltending to prevail. But putting the Capitals back on their heels early and playing defense by attacking and keeping the puck at the far end of the rink were keys to the victory.

"We are hoping to check them  by creating some offensive attack," Tortorella said. "You don't stop them. You can't stop them. It's just trying to contain them as best you can. You have to give credit to a pretty hard-working Washington team and a talented club but we found a way to get a win."

"They had a lot of shots but we had guys in the middle of the ice, taking away prime chances," said defenseman Wade Redden, who played one of his best games as a Ranger. "We were able to get some rebounds out of there for Hank. Only the one got by him, so he had another great night again.

"We came out of the gate really hard and established some momentum right away. I thought that was huge for us to get a couple of goals. That was a big key for us tonight."

The Rangers had 11 first-period shots to the Capitals' nine, but Washington had a 19-5 edge in the second period. For the most part though, Washington was shooting from areas that the Rangers wanted, while New York was careful with the puck and took fewer shots.

The Capitals also outshot the Rangers 11-5 in the third period.

"I think we really went at them in the first period, and the second period too," Rangers forward Fredrik Sjostrom said. "We got maybe a little overcautious in the third. We wanted to protect that lead but overall I think we played a good game."

They did but they also know they were all out against a dangerous team. They have a big lead in the series, and they'd like to see it end as soon as possible.

"You don't stop them. You can't stop them. It's just trying to contain them as best you can. You have to give credit to a pretty hard-working Washington team and a talented club but we found a way to get a win." -- Rangers coach John Tortorella
"We have to make sure we continue to do that," Dubinsky said. "It's easy when you are at home in front of 18,200 crazy New York Rangers' fans. They're the best in the world. We have to make sure we're ready to go Friday."

Quote of the Day

I just wanted to do something to take my mind off the shot and let me relax a little bit. It seemed like the fans liked it. I'm glad I was able to score.

— Oilers forward Taylor Hall on lifting his arms to fire up the crowd before his penalty shot
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