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Rangers vs Capitals - 2012 Stanley Cup Conference Semifinals

Tortorella unhappy with Rangers' effort in Game 6

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- Rangers coach John Tortorella isn't one to mince words, and he certainly didn't do that following New York's 2-1 loss to the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series at Verizon Center.

When asked if the Rangers' overall effort was what was needed, he responded, "No" twice before fielding the next question.

What about the four-minute power play that came up empty in the second period with the Rangers trailing 2-0?

Resilient Caps find a way to stay alive

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- For years, these Washington Capitals have rolled into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, only to have the season come unraveled at a most inopportune time. Whether it was an iffy penalty call, a deflating save, a hot goalie, a frustrating opponent or any combination of those things, the Capitals reached a breaking point and didn't survive.

There have been countless chances for the same thing to occur during the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but these "new-look" Capitals keep finding a way to play on.

"I think it just shows the character that we've got," Matt Hendricks said after Washington staved off elimination with a 2-1 victory against the New York Rangers on Wednesday night at Verizon Center. "Every guy in this room has character. You don't sense a feeling of giving up from anyone at all. We expect to win hockey games. That's what we show up to do. When we do achieve that, it feels good."

NYR-WSH Game 7 start time: Saturday 7:30 ET

NEW YORK – The National Hockey League today announced that the starting time for Game 7 of the New York Rangers-Washington Capitals Stanley Cup Playoff Conference Semifinal series has been set for 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 12, in New York.

The game will be seen on NBC Sports Network in the U.S.; and CBC and RDS in Canada.

Level-headed Rangers ready to start from scratch

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Mike Rupp has played parts of nine seasons in the NHL and won a Stanley Cup as a rookie with the New Jersey Devils in 2003. This season marks the seventh time he's reached the playoffs, so he's well-versed in the art of discussing what it means to stay on an even keel this time of year.

He was asked to compare this New York Rangers team to the others on which he's played following practice at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday. He fumbled a bit for the answer before finding the best way to explain why the team has avoided peaks and valleys this season.

"This one, we have a real way of just kind of … I'll put it this way," Rupp said, "we don't get praised for a win."

Rangers starting to see Staal at his best again

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Every player who suffers a concussion is affected by and recovers from it differently. Some return right away, some need weeks to recover, some need months, some are never the same after they come back and others never come back at all.

Marc Staal was one of the NHL's steadiest defensemen the past two seasons, leading the Rangers in ice time and slowly developing the offensive side of his game. But a concussion he suffered toward the end of last season cost him the entirety of training camp in September and the first 36 games of the regular season and sent him back to square one. He spent a month trapped in his apartment doing nothing under doctor's orders, which helped his injury to heal but caused his game to deteriorate.

It's taken more than four months, but the 25-year-old's game appears to be all the way back at just right the time. Staal scored his second goal of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Monday night, a power-play goal in overtime, to give the Rangers a 3-2 victory against the Washington Capitals in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series.

Caps' Ward: 'I definitely let the squad down'

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

NEW YORK -- Joel Ward was sitting in the penalty box as the goal horn blared not once, but twice inside Madison Square Garden late Monday night.

Joel Ward
Right Wing - WSH
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 4 | PTS: 5
SOG: 12 | +/-: 3
Soon after the second horn was finished and the celebratory crowd was making its way out onto the streets of Manhattan, Ward was sitting at his locker stall with the media approaching.

He had a look of despair painted all over his face.

Ward, the overtime hero of Game 7 in Boston less than two weeks ago, was now the overtime goat of the pivotal Game 5 against the New York Rangers.

Rangers' power play finally comes up big

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

NEW YORK -- The Rangers still believed in their power play, when they had no reason to at all.

Somehow, it won a game for them. Somehow, they're one win away from reaching the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 1997.

"We just wanted another chance," Brad Richards said after New York won Game 5 against Washington 3-2 on two power play goals scored within a span of 101.6 seconds bridging the end of regulation and overtime. "We didn't know if we'd get a power play, but you never doubt it. You always think you have a chance on a power play.

The Rangers' power play was 0-for-3 without a shot on goal in Game 5 before Joel Ward took a double-minor for slashing Carl Hagelin with 21.3 seconds left in regulation.

Henrik Lundqvist was sitting on the bench, giving the Rangers a 6-on-4 and still there was no reason for optimism, no reason to believe they could get it done with even with a two-man advantage.

Backstrom playing physical, complete game again

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

NEW YORK -- Nicklas Backstrom is back to being arguably the most important forward on the Washington Capitals. For proof, just watch the replay of his reverse shoulder hit on Artem Anisimov that led to his goal in Game 4 against the Rangers this past Saturday.

Players that are coming off a 40-game absence due to a concussion might not normally make a play like that; one with such brute force. However, Backstrom told Monday that he has gotten rid of the frustration and insecurity that he played with upon his return late in the regular season and even in the first-round series against Boston to allow for the physicality and confidence to return in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

"I had to get back to playing the normal way that I want to play, otherwise it's just going to be worse, I think," Backstrom said. "It's hard, especially when you know you have it in the back of your head, but you've got to let it go. More and more, yeah (I have let it go). I don't think about it as much as I did the first couple of games. Now it's just about doing what I can for the team."

Rangers, Capitals used to razor-thin margin for error

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- The margin for error is so thin between the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals that it cannot be seen with the naked eye. Each team is playing such a tight, defensive game that any mistake could be the only one in a game.

Playing on that edge can make the game nerve-wracking for fans, but as the Rangers and Capitals prepare to play Game 5 of their deadlocked best-of-seven Eastern Conference Semifinal series at Madison Square Garden on Monday night, that type of contest has become old hat.

In the Capitals' seven-game first-round win against the Boston Bruins, save for a stretch of two minutes, 54 seconds, neither team had more than a one-goal edge during a game. The Rangers' seven-game first-round victory against the Ottawa Senators wasn't as snug, but five games were one-goal games with a sixth decided by two goals thanks to an empty-net goal.

Rangers look for way around Caps' shot blockers

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Rangers captain Ryan Callahan said shooting directly at the net isn't always the answer against a team like the Capitals, a team that is so good at getting in shooting lanes and blocking shots.

Michael Del Zotto talked about the need to shoot quicker, and Marian Gaborik said a good play might just be banking the puck off the boards to hope for something ugly in front of the net.

As for Brad Richards, well he just said the Rangers have to do more.

After four games against Washington the Rangers are locked in a 2-2 series, and they're still trying to figure out how to get pucks to the net against the Capitals, who are blocking an average of 26.25 shots per game in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

"It's hard to play against a team like that," Callahan said Sunday. "They're really good in the defensive zone. They're similar to us in our style the way we block shots and collapse. The big thing is frustration, you can't let that creep in. You've just got to keep banging away, keep playing. We're not frustrated in here. We realize what we have to do. We just have to go out there and do it."

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