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Rangers advance despite lack of firepower

by John Kreiser
There are two ways to win in the postseason: You can try to outgun your opponent (think Philadelphia vs. Pittsburgh in the first round), or you can try to play shutdown defense, get great goaltending and hope to get enough offense.

The New York Rangers have opted for Plan B -- and they're playing it to perfection,

The Rangers survived Game 7 for the second time in as many series by beating the Washington Capitals 2-1 on Saturday night. It marked the NHL single season-record 14th consecutive playoff game -- every one they've played this spring -- in which the Rangers held the opposition to three goals or less.

Of course, it's not like the Rangers are filling the net. After scoring four times in their playoff opener against Ottawa, the Rangers have gone 13 straight games without getting more than three goals in a game.

Combine the two stats and you get another record: The Rangers and Capitals played the first seven-game series in which neither team was able to score more than three goals. The Rangers' streak of 13 straight games in which neither they nor their opponents exceeded three goals is two more than the old mark set by Carolina 10 years ago. Saturday's game also set a record -- it was the 13th straight game in one playoff year in which a team and its opponent combined to score five or fewer goals. The old mark was 12, set by the Boston Bruins -- in 1939.

Lucky charms -- If you want to win a Game 7, you could do worse than to have Ruslan Fedotenko on your side.

Ruslan Fedotenko
Left Wing - NYR
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 2 | PTS: 2
SOG: 18 | +/-: 2
Fedotenko had one shot on goal, three hits and two blocked shots in 15:05 of ice time for the Rangers in their 2-1 win against Washington to remain perfect in Game 7s. He's played in six and been on the winning side every time. The most notable came in 2004, when he scored both goals in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final as the Lightning beat Calgary 2-1.

Brad Richards was a teammate of Fedotenko's on that Cup-winning Lightning team -- and he's almost as good in Game 7s. Richards, who scored the opening goal on Saturday, has won all four Game 7s he's played in.

Fedotenko and Richards both played under John Tortorella on that championship team in Tampa Bay. Tortorella is now 4-1 in Game 7s -- all of which have ended in the same score: 2-1.

Home cooking -- If the Rangers have to go to a seventh game, there's no question where they want to play it.

Saturday marked the 10th Game 7 in franchise history, and the victory got the Rangers back to .500 at 5-5 -- they are now 5-0 at Madison Square Garden (all played in the last 20 years) and 0-5 on the road (including a loss at Washington three years ago).

The Caps are now 3-8 in Game 7s, despite playing eight of the 11 at home. They are 2-6 in Washington and 1-2 on the road -- that one victory came at Boston in the opening round this year.

Looking ahead -- You can take a quick train ride to cover the 10 miles or so from Madison Square Garden to Prudential Center in Newark, making the Eastern Conference Finals as close as the NHL will get to a subway series.

It will be the sixth time the Rangers and New Jersey Devils have met in the postseason -- all in the last 20 years, and three of them since 2006. The Rangers have won four of the five, including the most recent meeting in 2008, when they bounced the Devils in five games.

This will be the third playoff meeting between Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and New Jersey's Martin Brodeur -- they've split the first two. Lundqvist has had more success against Brodeur than any other NHL goaltender in the seven seasons they've played against each other: He's 23-7-5 against Brodeur in their regular-season matchups -- and 25-11-5 against New Jersey.
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