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Rangers look to create more, even series with Capitals

by Mike G. Morreale /


TV: NBC, TVA Sports, SN

Washington leads best-of-7 series 1-0

NEW YORK -- Coach Alain Vigneault needs to see a lot more from the New York Rangers against the Washington Capitals in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Second Round best-of-7 series at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.

Though the Rangers did generate 32 shots against Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby in a 2-1 loss in Game 1 on Thursday, Washington limited second-chance opportunities and Holtby had a relatively clean view of the puck each time.

"Their top line (of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Joel Ward), I mean, I could say they had their way with us," Vigneault said. "They probably had more than two-thirds of their scoring chances. We need to do a better job against that line without a doubt. … Offensively, I thought we spent a lot of quality time, we created some good looks."

The Capitals defense, which limited the New York Islanders to 11 shots in a 2-1 victory in Game 7 of their first-round series Monday, was good when it needed to be.

"We've tried to slow teams down in the neutral zone and I thought we did a good job [Thursday]," Capitals forward Troy Brouwer said. "We know they're a puck-possession team and they want to create offense off the rush with their speed and skill. We have to stay committed to it by making them feel uncomfortable and force them to make players earlier."

Washington's top defense pair of Brooks Orpik and John Carlson kept the Rangers' top line of Rick Nash, Derek Brassard and Martin St. Louis off the score sheet. Orpik and Carlson did much of the grunt work against Islanders captain John Tavares and linemates Ryan Strome and Brock Nelson in the first round.

"We need to improve our start and eliminating their second chances [against Holtby]," Orpik said. "It's important to manage the puck and make them go 200 feet."

St. Louis said it's time to move on, forget about the loss Thursday, and prepare for Game 2.

"Let's just go play hockey, go win battles, make plays," St. Louis said. "Are there plays after the game that you want back? A hundred percent. Everybody wants plays back. You can't. Learn from it."

Capitals coach Barry Trotz gave his team the day off the ice on Friday, but players did exercise at the hotel. Vigneault conducted a full practice at the Rangers Training Center in Greenburgh, N.Y.

Rangers defenseman Dan Boyle, who was hit by Nicklas Backstrom leading to the winning goal with 1.3 seconds left in the third period on Thursday, was a participant at practice. Forward Mats Zuccarello, injured in Game 5 of the first-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, remains out indefinitely.

Trotz said on Friday that forward Marcus Johansson was sent to the locker room late in the first period of Game 1 for an equipment repair and the need to stretch out. Johansson returned to the game in the second period. Center Eric Fehr will miss his sixth straight game with an upper-body injury; Trotz gave no timetable for his return.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mikemorrealeNHL

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