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Rangers have eye on evening series with Capitals

by Dan Rosen


(Washington leads best-of-7 series, 2-1)


Big story: The New York Rangers found their offense on Monday by gaining possession and going hard to the net. After scoring one goal in the first two games, they beat the Washington Capitals, 4-3, in Game 3 to pull within 2-1 in the best-of-7 series. The difference was again special teams, but it flipped on Washington. The Capitals had been strong on the power play and dominant on the penalty kill, but the Rangers were much better on the power play and were perfect on the PK in Game 3. Marc Staal returned to the Rangers' lineup after missing 29 games with an eye injury.

Team Scope:

Capitals: Coach Adam Oates gave his team Tuesday off, allowing them to rest after they were on the wrong end of a physical, emotional, up-and-down Game 3. They were originally scheduled to practice at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., but Oates nixed that after the game Monday.

"At this time of the year, I'm not worried about conditioning, it's more fatigue and getting better prepared mentally," Oates said. "So we'll take [Tuesday] off and recharge the battery."

The Capitals had a chance to at least force overtime in Game 3 when they went on the power play with 1:54 left in the third period. They turned it into a 6-on-4 when Braden Holtby was pulled for the extra skater (Joel Ward) with roughly 90 seconds left. However, Nicklas Backstrom had a pair of shots blocked and Washington never put one on goal.

Washington's power play was 0-for-3 in Game 3 after going 2-for-7 over the first two games in the series.

"They did a good job of getting in the lanes," defenseman Mike Green said. "They were very committed at the end there. It wasn't going to be a cute goal. It was just going to be a throw it on goal and bang it in. We were on the perimeter and we didn't get a chance."

Rangers: They got goals from four different players in Game 3 (Brian Boyle, Derick Brassard, Arron Asham and Derek Stepan) because they went to the net to create their chances. The Rangers also kept the puck alive by activating their defensemen and telling them to be aggressive on the blue line.

Asham and Stepan scored in the third period because Ryan McDonagh and John Moore, respectively, were able to keep the puck in at the left point.

"That was a huge difference in the outcome of the game, at least for us," McDonagh said. "We didn't sit back and be passive, wait to see what they are going to do. We want to try to make a difference. Their defensemen have been getting involved in their offense, and we need to do our part offensively on our back end."

It goes unnoticed at times, but Henrik Lundqvist was another big reason why the Rangers won, particularly for how he played in the second half of the second period. Yes he was beaten by Mike Green for a game-tying goal at the 17:17 mark, but Lundqvist made several point-blank saves while the Capitals were pushing and owning time of possession during 5-on-5 play.

"You always feel a little bit better after a win, but it's the first to four and I'm already thinking about [Wednesday]," Lundqvist said on Tuesday. "What happened [Monday] is gone and you start over."

Who's hot: Brassard chipped in with a goal and two assists in Game 3. Boyle was effective not only with his physicality, but he scored a goal, had an assist and won 14 of 21 faceoffs. Green has scored in back-to-back games for Washington.

Injury report: For the Rangers, Darroll Powe and Ryane Clowe each have undisclosed injuries. Powe was hurt early in Game 3 and did not practice Tuesday. Clowe has been practicing since last week and is hoping to play in Game 4, but he'll be a game-time decision. … The Capitals are missing Brooks Laich (sports hernia).

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