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Rangers edge Capitals in Game 2 to even series

by Brian Compton /

NEW YORK -- Chris Kreider and Dan Boyle sparked a fast start, and Henrik Lundqvist made 30 saves to help the New York Rangers even their Eastern Conference Second Round series with a 3-2 win against the Washington Capitals in Game 2 at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.

Derick Brassard scored in the third period for the Rangers, who responded after losing the series opener when Capitals forward Joel Ward scored with 1.3 seconds left Thursday.

Each of New York's five wins in the Stanley Cup Playoffs have been decided by one goal.

The best-of-7 series shifts to Verizon Center for Game 3 on Monday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin scored, and Braden Holtby made 32 saves for the Capitals.

The Rangers got off to the start they needed when Kreider scored 38 seconds into the game. Kevin Klein sent a long clear down the ice that Holtby had to kick away with his right pad. Derek Stepan collected the puck at the left circle and fed Jesper Fast, whose shot was denied. But Kreider was right in front of the net and put the rebound past Holtby to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead. It was Kreider's second goal of the playoffs.

"We had moved on past Thursday night and we were focused on the process of playing a good hockey game," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "Obviously we came out with a good start, and [Fast] had a real good look prior to that, and [Kreider] was able put in the rebound by going to the net."

Lundqvist made his first big save of the game about 4:30 into the first period when he dove across his crease to deny Ovechkin, who was left alone in front but didn't elevate his wrist shot enough to get it over the Rangers goaltender.

New York ended the Washington's penalty-kill streak at 17 when Dan Boyle scored a power-play goal with 4:20 left in the first period. After Ward was whistled for hooking, Troy Brouwer's clearing attempt from behind the net died before crossing the blue line. Boyle retrieved the puck and his shot from the left point found its way through a crowd and past Holtby to make it 2-0.

"We've been good [on the penalty kill] throughout the playoffs, obviously," Holtby said. "I think tonight we might've made a few more little mistakes than usual, but overall it's been one of the things that keeps us going forward and we're going to have to make sure we're ready as a penalty-kill group. We need to bring a better effort for Game 3."

New York outshot Washington 15-4 in the first period.

"I think after what happened [Thursday], we were all upset," Lundqvist said. "I was really annoyed and it really bothered me, so you try to use that energy to bring it over into this game and be determined that we need this one. I think the first period we played one of our better periods."

The Capitals played a more determined game in the second. Lundqvist made his best save with 8:44 remaining when he slid across his crease and robbed Kuznetsov from point-blank range by getting his blocker on a wrist shot after a nice cross-ice feed from Ovechkin.

"He was phenomenal," Stepan said of Lundqvist, who made 15 saves in the second. "It doesn't surprise me one bit. He continues to be Hank. We're going to need him too."

Washington finally solved Lundqvist with 6:01 left in the second period on Kuznetsov's fourth goal of the playoffs. Kuznetsov dumped the puck from the red line and it bounced off the end boards out to Jason Chimera, whose shot was denied by Lundqvist. But Kuznetsov beat Boyle to the rebound and put it past Lundqvist to make it 2-1.

Holtby kept it a one-goal game with back-to-back saves against Rick Nash and Brassard in the final minute of the second, denying Nash's wrist shot from the slot then keeping Brassard's rebound attempt out with his left skate.

The Capitals outshot the Rangers 16-12 in the second period.

"A slow start hurt us," Chimera said. "Anytime you dig yourself a 2-0 hole in a building like this, it's hard to come back. [In] afternoon games, you have to get up for them. You have to get ready.

"You have to have a short memory in the playoffs. Hopefully we can come back in our barn. We have home ice and we have to take advantage of that."

Brassard gave New York a 3-1 lead with 13:53 remaining with his fourth goal of the playoffs. Moments after Brassard finished serving an interference penalty, Martin St. Louis took a pass from Nash, turned around at the Capitals blue line and sent a pass toward the net, where Brassard was alone. His shot squeaked between Holtby's skates to make it 3-1.

"We had a little letdown in the second period. Obviously they're going to try and push back, and that's what they did," Brassard said. "We just have to stick with it. I think we learned we can't fall asleep on [Ovechkin]. He's a pretty good player and it seems like he's trying to make a difference every night. We're going to have to play him really tight in Washington."

Ovechkin got the Capitals within 3-2 with a highlight-reel goal at 10:29 of the third. He took a pass from Ward, split Rangers defensemen Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi and managed to put a wrist shot past Lundqvist while falling down. Ovechkin has six goals and five assists in 14 playoff games at Madison Square Garden.

"Wow," Ward said of Ovechkin's goal. "Again, unbelievable individual effort. To split the [defense] like that is pretty impressive. We came up short. Too bad we couldn't get one late in the game."

The Rangers recalled forward Ryan Bourque from Hartford of the American Hockey League prior to the game. He had one assist in five AHL playoff games. Bourque participated in warm-ups but did not play.


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