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Capitals back home for pivotal Game 5 vs. Rangers

by Dan Rosen


(Best-of-7 series tied, 2-2)


Big story: The home team has been perfect so far in the series, which obviously bodes well for the Washington Capitals, who will have two games left at Verizon Center if this series goes the distance. However, the New York Rangers come into Washington with momentum created off of back-to-back 4-3 wins at Madison Square Garden. After scoring one goal through 128 minutes in Games 1 and 2, the Rangers scored eight goals in 120 minutes between Games 3 and 4. Alex Ovechkin was limited to no points and three shots on goal in Games 3 and 4.

Team Scope:

Rangers: Derick Brassard, whom the Rangers acquired at the NHL Trade Deadline on April 3, has turned into a major contributor in this series. After struggling in Games 1 and 2, Brassard picked it up in Games 3 and 4 and combined for a goal and four primary assists.

Coach John Tortorella has repeatedly praised Brassard's pass that set up Dan Girardi for a go-ahead power-play goal 59 seconds into the third period of Game 4.

"That's a hell of a play by Brass," Tortorella said Thursday, repeating what he said after the game Wednesday night. "I was just watching it on tape and that's just a hell of a play. That's not a play written up, that is creativity."

The Rangers also are getting production out of forwards Carl Hagelin and Brian Boyle. Hagelin had a goal and two assists in Game 4. Boyle scored in Game 3 and won 25 of 37 faceoffs over the past two games.

The Rangers won't say if defenseman Marc Staal will be available for Game 5 or at any point for the rest of this series. He played in Game 3, his first game since he suffered an eye injury March 5, but was a late scratch in Game 4, presumably because he was experiencing some vision issues out of his right eye.

Capitals: Washington is getting some secondary scoring from Mathieu Perreault, who scored twice in Game 4, Jay Beagle and Troy Brouwer. However, the Capitals surged up the standings in late March and April because of how well Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson played and how productive they were.

They lost Games 3 and 4 with those players combining for one goal and 12 shots.

"I think we're creating chances and we're getting our chances to score, but we just can't seem the puck in the net," Johansson said. "Sometimes, it's like that and I think if we keep playing the way we are, maybe a little better, we can score a lot of goals, I think."

Penalties were a factor in Games 3 and 4. The Capitals gave the Rangers six power plays in Game 3 and four in Game 4.

The Rangers scored twice, with their most important power-play goal coming 59 seconds into the third period. Jason Chimera was called for interference at the 20-minute mark of the second, crushing the momentum Washington had created by scoring twice over the final seven minutes to erase a 2-0 deficit.

Washington will play Game 5 without forward Martin Erat, who suffered an upper-body injury late in the first period of Game 4. It's unclear who will replace him, but the Capitals recalled Tom Wilson and Joey Crabb from Hershey of the American Hockey League on Thursday.

Who's hot: Brassard has five points over the past two games to lead the Rangers. Derek Stepan scored the winning goal in each of the past two games. Hagelin had three points in Game 4. … Perreault scored his first two career goals in the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Wednesday. Joel Ward was effective with a pair of assists.

Injury report: For the Rangers, Darroll Powe (undisclosed) is likely out and Staal (eye) is questionable. … The Capitals are missing Erat (upper body) and Brooks Laich (sports hernia).

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