NEW YORK -- The Washington Capitals have not been to the Eastern Conference Final in 17 years, but could get there with a win against the New York Rangers in Game 5 at Madison Square Garden on Friday (7 p.m.; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).
The Rangers have won eight straight games at MSG when facing elimination, and the Capitals said they know they have to play better than they did in Game 2 on Saturday, in which they were outshot 15-4 and trailed 2-0 after the first period. It is their only loss in the series.
"We have to apply pressure right away," Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin said Friday. "Try to put the puck deep more than we usually do and try to play in their zone more. … It's probably the biggest game for both teams. If we win, we move forward; if they win, the series is on."
Washington has three chances to close out the series but would rather win sooner than later. The Capitals are 3-8 since 2010 when they have a chance to close out a series, and would welcome the rest.
"It’s a benefit," coach Barry Trotz said. "I think the more games you play, the more chances you have to get dinged up. Everybody's sort of banged up this time of year, it allows everything to heal but you try to do it as quick as possible as you can."
One of those dinged up players is forward Eric Fehr who will miss his ninth straight game with an upper-body injury.
"We have to be ready for how desperate and how frantic [the Rangers] are going to be and it's going to be a fun and exciting first period for sure," forward Tory Brouwer said. "It's important in any game [to not give them any life], and this one is probably a little bit more just because it's an elimination game, and they don't want to go home, and we want to move on so you've got to have and play with just as much desperation as them."
Trotz agreed that with the Rangers' season on the line, his team needs to play its best all-around game.
"We've been not quite on our game and we need to put our full game in if we are going to have any chance of beating the Rangers," he said. "Just meet the challenge. Don't be afraid of it. You know that the New York Rangers … are going to bring their best game and we have to match it with our best game."
Goalie Braden Holtby said he wasn't focusing on the bigger picture, but just Game 5.
"It's another game. It's another game we need to win," he said.
Here are the projected lineups:
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Joel Ward
Marcus Johansson - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Jason Chimera
Andre Burakovsky - Jay Beagle - Troy Brouwer
Curtis Glencross - Brooks Laich - Tom Wilson
Brooks Orpik - John Carlson
Matt Niskanen - Karl Alzner
Mike Green - Tim Gleason
Scratched: Michael Latta
Injured: Eric Fehr (upper body), John Erskine (neck surgery), Dmitry Orlov (wrist)
Rick Nash - Derick Brassard - Martin St. Louis
Chris Kreider - Derek Stepan - Jesper Fast
Carl Hagelin - Kevin Hayes - J.T. Miller
James Sheppard- Dominic Moore- Tanner Glass
Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Marc Staal - Dan Boyle
Keith Yandle - Kevin Klein
Scratched: Ryan Bourque, Matt Hunwick, Chris Summers
Injured: Mats Zuccarello (upper body)
Status report: Fehr did not skate and won't play. The rest of the Capitals lineup likely will be the same as in Game 4.
Who's hot: Burakovsky has three points (one goal, two assists) in his past two games. … Holtby has allowed two goals or fewer in eight of his past nine starts. Heading into play Friday, he ranks second in save percentage in the playoffs (.950) and goals-against average (1.48).