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Capitals head home in a deep hole

by Dan Rosen

"We're not done. It's just 3-1. We were in the same situation last year and we found ourselves in sudden death in the seventh game. It's hard. We have a home game on Friday and we have to take advantage of that."
-- Nicklas Backstrom

NEW YORK -- Stunned and a bit deflated, the Washington Capitals also know exactly how to dig out of the gaping hole in which they currently find themselves.

Only, this time they just have to do it better.

A year ago, the Capitals fell behind the Philadelphia Flyers, 3-1, in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal round series, but battled back and lost Game 7 in overtime on a Joffrey Lupul goal.

Well, Washington fell behind the New York Rangers, 3-1, in this year's best-of-7 Conference Quarterfinal on Wednesday night. The Caps would love to get to a Game 7 again, but first they're going to have to force a Game 6 by winning Friday at Verizon Center (7 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN, RDS).

"We were in this situation last year and we came back and got that experience," said Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin, who scored his first goal of the series on his 32nd shot Wednesday night. "It was a good experience. We know how to come back and now we go back to our home in front of our fans and we can win a game."

Prior to starting this series against the Rangers, the Capitals were saying that they couldn't draw too much on last year's experience because it was against a totally different team. But after losing Game 4, all of a sudden last year's comeback against became a motivational tool.

"It (stinks), but we've been there before," defenseman Tom Poti said. "I think it definitely helps us. It was a learning experience last year. We took it to Game 7 and into overtime and we're going to have to play the same way we did last year."

"We're going to try," added Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau. "It's a different team, different year, different circumstances, but it's the same situation."

Boudreau, though, was also quick to note that the Rangers were also in this situation last season against the New Jersey Devils, up 3-1 in the quarterfinals going back into the Prudential Center.

The Rangers won, 5-3, as Jaromir Jagr had a goal and two assists and Henrik Lundqvist stopped 23 of 26 shots.

"They know that they are not going to wait until Game 6 to get it done, either," Boudreau said.

To force a Game 6, the Capitals have to find a way to be more efficient and effective on their power play. There is no way to sugar coat that fact.

The Rangers have given Washington 22 power plays in this series -- seven alone from agitating left wing Sean Avery -- but the Caps have scored on only four of them.

They were 0-for-6 Wednesday night and Boudreau complained that they were passing the puck too much. Ovechkin said the Capitals' were "too cute" on the power play.

"It's hard to shoot when we don't have anybody in front of the net," Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom said. "Shooting from the blue line, he's going to take it if no one is in front of the net. Maybe we did pass too much, I don't know, but we have to get better."

They'll also have to figure out a way to again get the puck past Lundqvist, who was brilliant in Game 4, stopping 38 of 39 shots. The Capitals scored four goals on 40 shots against Lundqvist in Game 3 because they were more active in the zone, cycling the puck and cutting through the middle.

"He played good," Backstrom said. "I mean, he's been playing good in this series so far, but we scored four (in Game 3) and I think we can do it again."

But in all three Rangers' wins in this series, they have done a masterful job of clogging the middle and shutting off the shooting lanes. They are averaging 22 blocked shots in their wins and had only 13 in their one loss.

"When we did get pucks deep, we played real well in our own zone," Lundqvist said. "We didn't allow too many passes across like we did (in Game 3), so we adjusted and played great. That was a big difference. We had more blocks and we were more comfortable."

If the Caps want to somehow win this series, they can't allow the Rangers to feel that way again.

"We're not done," Backstrom said. "It's just 3-1. We were in the same situation last year and we found ourselves in sudden death in the seventh game. It's hard. We have a home game on Friday and we have to take advantage of that."

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