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Home ice has served Capitals, Rangers well so far

by Mike G. Morreale

NEW YORK -- Washington Capitals forward Eric Fehr said he feels the first team that's able to break serve in this best-of-7 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals might have the best chance at taking the series.

Fehr spoke to reporters Tuesday morning outside his hotel during a rare off day to discuss how important home ice has been for his club and the New York Rangers in the opening three games of what has become an intriguing showdown between two very evenly matched clubs.

"I don't think there was any difference in the way the Rangers played [on Monday], but they played with the crowd behind them which is what we did at Verizon Center and that's a big difference," Fehr said. "Momentum plays a big part in the games and when you have the fans cheering you on, it's a lot easier to play."

A win in Game 4 at Madison Square Garden would certainly go a long way in helping give the Capitals a stranglehold on the series. Washington leads, 2-1.

"It almost looks like that right now, but I don't like to think too far ahead," Fehr said. "I think we have to win [Wednesday]. You never want to say you're going to win all your home games because they're not easy … they're equally tough. But we just have to go into MSG and win a game."

The Capitals did a good job keeping the noise level to a minimum in MSG on Monday until Derick Brassard connected for a power-play goal 1:23 into the second period to give the Rangers a 2-1 edge. It was one of six power-play opportunities the home team was given in the contest.

"I felt like for the first two periods, all we were doing was killing penalties," Fehr said. "I don't remember a 5-on-5 shift with my line [with Jason Chimera and Mathieu Perreault] and that's frustrating. We have a really good team that enjoys playing all four lines and we have an ability to take over games when we are rolling four lines, but we weren't able to do that with much consistency so it was tough."

Washington forward Troy Brouwer said his team needs to control its emotions.

"It was a tough way to give them momentum and get their crowd into it," Brouwer said. "I think at first we silenced the crowd after scoring first and killing their power plays. Their fans began booing with their lack of power-play production, but then they scored. If we were able to hold off that power-play goal, the crowd would have been on them and the outcome might have been different."

Brouwer said if he were told prior to the game the Capitals would put three goals past Henrik Lundqvist, he would think that would be more than enough to win the game. Lundqvist earned his first victory of the series on 28 saves, with 10 in the second and nine in the third.

"We should be able to win that game," he said. "Goals are hard to come by and [Lundqvist] was phenomenal [Monday night]. He was making some timely saves, so when we do score three goals, we have to be able to get a win out of it."

Washington coach Adam Oates agreed.

"Based on his numbers, yes, I would expect to win a game [where we score three goals on Lundqvist]," Oates said.


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