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Burakovsky, Capitals push Rangers to brink

by Shawn Roarke /

WASHINGTON -- Rookie forward Andre Burakovsky had a night to remember for the Washington Capitals and, as a result, the New York Rangers had one they would rather forget.

Burakovsky scored his first two Stanley Cup Playoff goals, giving the Capitals a come-from-behind 2-1 win in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Second Round at Verizon Center on Wednesday.

"I've been struggling a little with shots and I think I need to shoot more, and the guys have been on me telling me I need to shoot all the time," Burakovsky said. "Today, I think I had a couple of shots on net that worked out pretty well."

It worked out well enough to be the difference in another taut game between these rivals from the Metropolitan Division and to hand the Rangers back-to-back losses for the first time this postseason.

New York, which won the Presidents' Trophy, is on the brink of elimination in this best-of-7 series, trailing 3-1. Last season, New York trailed the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 before winning its second-round series on the way to the Stanley Cup Final.

"It's tough times. We have to stick together," Rangers forward Rick Nash said. "We need that one win, that's it. Worry about the next game at home in front of our home fans."

Game 5 is Friday at Madison Square Garden (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

Each of New York's nine playoff games has been decided by one goal, and the inability of the usually high-scoring Rangers to generate goals has been the most telling factor. They have two goals in three losses this series after eliminating the Penguins in the first round.

Washington goalie Braden Holtby made 28 saves and denied forward Carl Hagelin on a penalty shot with a glove save 8:01 into the third period with the Capitals holding a one-goal lead.

"We knew we were going to have to be good defensively," said Holtby, who has stopped 121 of 126 shots in the series. "The playoffs are like that. Some days it is going to be tough to get goals. Whoever plays better in those tight games is going to win."

Burakovsky, 20, was inserted into the lineup after forward Eric Fehr sustained an injury in Game 3 of the seven-game Eastern Conference First Round series against the New York Islanders. He has paid huge dividends for the faith placed in him and, on Wednesday, delivered two acts of brilliance that may have irrevocably altered this series.

He tied the game 1-1 with 3:31 left in the second period when he created a turnover along the wall on the forecheck, cut to the middle, and found a lane to take a shot that ticked off the shoulder of goalie Henrik Lundqvist and went under the crossbar.

The game-winner came 24 seconds into the third period. This time, linemate Troy Brouwer created the turnover and Burakovsky eluded the backcheck of defenseman Ryan McDonagh before beating Lundqvist to the glove side with a backhand.

"[Burakovsky] knows what he is doing now," Brouwer said. "He is enjoying the situation and enjoying the experience, and any time you can make moves like that on Lundqvist and look a guy off and score like that, you've got good confidence."

The Rangers allowed each goal after a turnover, a continuing storyline of the series. New York is having a hard time dealing with the pressure of the Washington forecheckers, who appear to wear down the Rangers as the game goes along.

"I don't think we gave them much," Hagelin said. "The two goals they scored were off of turnovers and that is what we have to learn."

Derick Brassard scored the Rangers' goal 6:12 into the second period, his fifth of the playoffs. It broke Holtby's shutout streak at 100:05 and gave New York its first lead since the third period of a 3-2, Game 2 win.

Brassard has scored five of the Rangers' 16 goals this postseason.

Lundqvist, who has allowed seven goals in four games, started his 100th straight playoff game for the Rangers. Two goalies in NHL history have started more consecutive games for a single team: Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils (194) and Patrick Roy of the Colorado Avalanche (133).

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