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Rangers' inability to score has them chasing Capitals

by Shawn Roarke /

WASHINGTON -- The New York Rangers know they played a great road game in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center.

They also know they lost the game, and control of the best-of-7 series, at least temporarily.

The Rangers have left themselves with little margin for error because of an inability to score goals. They were shut out in Game 3, losing 1-0 on a fluky goal from depth forward Jay Beagle.

It was the only time the Rangers have been shut out this postseason, but they hadn't scored many goals in the previous seven games. In fact, they've managed to score more than two goals on two  occasions. Not surprisingly, as a result, all eight games they have played have been decided by one goal.

"I like a lot of parts of our game, but obviously we haven't been able to put the puck in the net, and that is something we have to improve on," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said Tuesday after a crisp afternoon practice at Verizon Center.

There was much to like Monday, and has been throughout this series, for the favored Rangers.

They controlled the puck for long periods of the game. The Capitals took at least six minutes to register a shot in each of the first two periods. The Capitals had nine shots when Beagle scored on a behind-the-net bank shot in the 28th minute. Alex Ovechkin and the rest of Washington's top line was forced to chase the game for the majority of its time on the ice, limiting its ability to be effective in the attacking zone. New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist faced 22 shots.

"As a team, we didn't give them much," Rangers defenseman Marc Staal said. "We got the puck and were controlling it, which allows us to keep it away from them."

They did, however, give the Capitals just enough. The one goal held up through the final 32 minutes, including a wild flurry at the end with Lundqvist pulled for an extra attacker.

Several Rangers suggested they fell on the wrong side of the bounces Monday and there is no reason to deviate from what they have done well. Forward Martin St. Louis said if the Rangers had gotten the bounce Monday, it would be the Capitals answering the uncomfortable questions the Rangers faced Tuesday.

"We're disappointed with the results, but it is not hard to understand the game could have gone either way," he said.

The game did not go the Rangers' way because they were not often dangerous with the puck when they had it. Capitals goalie Braden Holtby made 30 saves for the shutout, but he would be the first to admit he had a clean look at the majority of the shots and was forced to make only a handful of Grade A saves.

"I think we have had our good looks within the game," Rangers center Derek Stepan said. "They played well defensively and Holtby had some big saves. Maybe our offensive side of the puck, the confidence is a little bit shaken. At times, it might be work harder; at times, it might be position yourselves smarter. It just comes down to getting a fluky one, getting one off your shin pads."

The Rangers need goals in whatever manner they come. They are now chasing this series and no longer have home-ice advantage. A loss in Game 4 on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports2) would put them on the brink of seeing their dream of returning to the Stanley Cup Final squashed far earlier than expected.

"It's a playoff series," Staal said. "You are going to have games where you are pressing and nothing is going in for you. We have to find a way to reverse it as quick as we can. Nobody is panicked in here. We just have to come out with another great effort [Wednesday] and we have to get a win."

The Rangers talked Tuesday about getting more traffic, about making quicker decisions, about shooting even more than they already are to wear down the Capitals defense. They talked about inside position and wrinkles to their power play. But the time for words, they know, has passed.

"This is a result-orientated business," Vigneault said.

The coach needs to see more from his offensive guys. He needs Rick Nash and St. Louis to do more than play well. He needs them to score. He needs his top-two centers, Derick Brassard and Stepan, to create more opportunities for the top-six forwards.

"We didn't capitalize on some of our chances and they get a bounce," St. Louis said. "I understand you have to fight for your bounces, but we are going to keep fighting."

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