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For Rangers to rally, power play must revive

by Dave Lozo
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- A common thread among the three No. 8 seeds to win their first-round series since 2006 was a power play working at a high level:

* The Montreal Canadiens went 6-for-30 (20 percent) last year in their seven-game upset of the Washington Capitals. They scored a power-play goal in every game except Game 5.

* In the Anaheim Ducks' six-game victory against the San Jose Sharks in 2009, they were an efficient 5-for-23 (21.7 percent) with the extra man.

* When the Edmonton Oilers shocked the Detroit Red Wings by winning in six games in 2006, their power play was 8-for-37 (21.6 percent) and scored two power-play goals in a game three times.

Through four games, the eighth-seeded New York Rangers are 1-for-18 on the power play against the Capitals and find themselves in a 3-1 hole in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal-round series. The Rangers will try to avoid elimination Saturday afternoon (3 p.m., NBC, TSN, RDS) at Verizon Center.

The Rangers have just 17 power-play shots. They had 10 of them in Game 3, a 3-2 victory that featured a power-play goal by Erik Christensen.

Coach John Tortorella said he's sensing frustration from players, but it's nothing to worry about.
"Frustration because they want it to work, not where it's out of control," Tortorella said. "They know if we get that thing working, it will help us that much more. When we approach Saturday, we're going to need that. Something good is going to have to happen with that. We know that. We're trying to fix it.

"We're trying. We need to get something accomplished there."

The Rangers' futility in this area is a carryover from the regular season, when they finished 1-for-27 in their final nine games. A good start toward scoring would be shooting more. There are few things fans enjoy more than vociferously imploring players to shoot during a power play, but with the Rangers averaging less than one shot per power play, they might be onto something.

Marian Gaborik, who was robbed by Capitals goaltender Michal Neuvirth during the Rangers' power play in double overtime in Game 4, said the team not only needs to shoot more, but needs to get more shots on the net.

"Just get the shots through," Gaborik said. "As soon as we get into the zone, we have to know what we're doing with the puck before we even get it. They're aggressive. Just do a quick play and as soon as there is a chance to shoot, take the chance. Don't wait for another play.

Much of the credit also needs to go to the Capitals, who finished the regular season ranked second in penalty killing. Centers Brooks Laich and Boyd Gordon have won 19 of 30 faceoffs while shorthanded, preventing the Rangers from getting immediate possession of the puck 66 percent of the time.

Centers Brandon Dubinsky and Brian Boyle have had the most trouble, going a combined 7-for-25 on faceoffs during power plays.

"They've got some good guys on faceoffs, with Laich and Gordon taking those draws on the penalty kill," said Dubinsky, who won 52.5 percent of draws during the regular season. "They're always on their strong side and they're two of the best in the League. We just have to find a way to scramble, go for ties and win some battles.

"I'm not going to beat those guys clean, especially on the off-side. It has to be (a team effort) against these guys."

Defenseman Bryan McCabe, acquired at the trade deadline from Florida to give the Rangers' power play a boost, agreed that everyone needs to raise their game if the Rangers are going to live to fight beyond Game 5.

"We just have to pick up our battle level -- all of us," McCabe said. "We got to retrieve pucks, get it back and get set up. It seems like we're not getting much set-up time. That's everyone as a group. We've got to do a better job and be more desperate than they are."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo

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