-- The Washington Capitals
beat the New York Rangers
at their own game Saturday, blocking 26 New York shots, while having just seven of their own blocked by the Rangers.
The Caps beat the Rangers 3-2 to even their Eastern Conference Semifinal series at two games apiece. Game 5 is Monday at Madison Square Garden (7:30 p.m., ET, NBCSN, CBC).
"We know that they can block shots very well and they create offense from blocking it too," Caps coach Dale Hunter
said Sunday. "When we get it blocked, they go down the other way on an odd-man rush. So we say that you just have to miss the first guy and get it by them, and if you miss the net so be it as long as it doesn't get blocked."
In Game 4 the Caps kept the Rangers from getting in the shooting lanes by creating space in the offensive zone with plenty of puck movement. Specifically, the Capitals looked to their blue liners.
"They like to play tight in their D-zone," Troy Brouwer
said, "their forwards collapse a little bit and so our D-men have a little bit more time at the points. So if we can get pucks back to the point and go D-to-D and stretch them out a little bit, it gives our D-men a better lane to the net. If we have nothing, we can just throw it down behind the net and try to get a little more room on the cycle."
The Capitals acknowledge that they have relied on their cycle game and their play below the goal line more against the Rangers than they did in the first round against the Boston Bruins
Washington's first two goals in Saturday's Game 4 win -- tallies from Alex Ovechkin
and Nicklas Backstrom
-- both came from sustained offensive zone pressure that resulted in the Rangers collapsing down low.
Ovechkin opened the scoring seconds after Brooks Laich
and Marcus Johansson
battled for possession in the corner with Ryan Callahan
and Chris Kreider
. Kreider eventually turned the puck over to Ovechkin who made it 1-0 Washington.
"Callahan was in the corner, Kreider was right down in the pile, both D-men were in the pile, and I think that [Brian] Boyle was the lone guy in the slot," Brouwer said. "That leaves a lot of room in the slot. So it was a timely turnover that the guys caused and Ovi just happened to be in a good spot."
While the Caps' combination of puck movement from their defensemen and the play of their forwards below the faceoff circles kept the Rangers from blocking more than seven shots, the Capitals themselves also got in the way of 26 shots from New York.
led the Caps with nine blocked shots, as Washington passed New York for the overall team lead in blocked shots this post-season (244-232).