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Capitals-Rangers Preview

by Corey Masisak

Washington leads best-of-seven series 2-0)

TV -- NBC (HD), TSN (HD), RDS (HD)

Big story
-- The Rangers will need to find some offense if they want to get back into this series while the Capitals will be trying to find the killer instinct that has eluded them the last two postseasons.

Team Scope:

Capitals -- The good news: Washington has forged a two-game lead for the third straight postseason series. The bad news: The Caps have failed to close the deal in the previous two, continuing a troubling trend that has plagued the franchise since long before any of the current members of the club were around.

This edition of the Capitals hopes to be different, in part because their style of play has changed since the last two collapses. Washington's commitment to defense looks like a success to this point with one goal allowed in more than 138 minutes in this series.

"You try to prepare every day. You try to keep them focused every day," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said of avoiding another collapse. "I wish I had the crystal ball that said, ‘OK, this is what we have to do and say so that we win the next game.' We want to play a lot similar to the way we've been playing but only better. I feel every game we have to get better. We know the Rangers are going to be better and as time comes on they're going to be even more desperate."

Rangers -- While everyone has rushed to applaud Washington's effort at the defensive end, New York continues its search for more offense. It wasn't just that the Rangers were held to 22 shots (including nine in the final 40 minutes) in Game 2, but that quality scoring chances were few and far between.

Capitals goaltender Michal Neuvirth didn't have more than a save or two to make off the rush, and second- or third-chance opportunities for the Rangers were almost non-existent. Henrik Lundqvist has done well to keep his club in both games, but the Rangers need to get their goaltender some support ASAP.

"We just need to have that mindset of bringing it to the net," forward Brandon Dubinsky said. "Rather than cycling ourselves to death, we've just got to make sure we're trying to create chances and funnel everything to the (crease) and trying to get in this guy's face. He's a young guy and we've got to try to put more pressure on him."

Who's hot
-- Neuvirth has the best goals-against average in the League through the first two games of the playoffs, and his .979 save percentage isn't too shabby, either. Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Jason Arnott all have a goal and an assist in the series. … Erik Christensen (12 of 21) and Chris Drury (12 of 16) have been bright spots in the faceoff circle for the Rangers.

Injury report
-- The Capitals will be without defensemen Dennis Wideman (leg hematoma) and Tom Poti (groin). The Rangers are missing Ryan Callahan (leg) and Derek Boogaard (concussion).

Stat pack -- Dating back to the start of Game 2 of the 2009 Eastern Conference quarterfinal series, the Rangers have scored eight goals in eight games against Washington's young goaltending duo of Neuvirth and Semyon Varlamov. The Capitals have outscored New York 20-8 in that span.

Puck drop -- Arnott got off to quite a nice start with the Capitals after coming to the organization at the trade deadline for David Steckel and a second-round pick in the 2012 Entry Draft. He had a game-tying assist and a game-winning goal in his first two games and finished the regular season with 4 goals and 3 assists in 11 contests after the trade.

He had a game-winning assist in Game 1 and scored the power-play goal that put his team ahead 2-0 in Game 2, proving that not only is he earning plaudits for his presence in the dressing room but his work on the ice as well.

"It is a tough thing to do," Boudreau said. "If you've never been traded or gone to another team in midseason, rarely does that player or the players who get traded excel at all. The next year they come in and are acclimated. He's got experience in everything. He's been dealt at the [deadline] and he's moved to different teams. He's just wise. Experience and success brings you a lot of wisdom so guys listen to him when he talks.

"I do remember him scoring a overtime Stanley Cup-winning goal so I don't think it is something new to him this year."
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