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Rangers need to continue home success in Game 6

by Dan Rosen


(Washington leads the best-of-7 series, 3-2)


Big story: The home team is perfect in the series after the Washington Capitals' 2-1 overtime win in Game 5 Friday at Verizon Center. For the series to go back to Washington for Game 7 Monday, the New York Rangers have to take care of business on home ice. They have two wins and eight goals in two games at Madison Square Garden this series, opposed to the two goals they've scored in three consecutive losses at Verizon Center. The Capitals are trying to advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals for the third straight season.

Team Scope:

Capitals: Washington has been excellent at home in this series, with a 3-0 record and two goals allowed, but they're 0-2 at Madison Square Garden and have allowed eight goals.

The difference, according to coach Adam Oates, has been their starts. The Rangers jumped to a 2-0 lead in Game 4 and held a 2-1 lead early in the second period of Game 3. But it wasn't so much the score as it was the little mistakes the Capitals made at the Garden, mistakes they haven't been making at Verizon Center.

"We talk about the little decisions that shoot ourselves in the foot, whether it could be a bad pass where a guy's open and we don't hit it and we ice it," Oates said. "We've done that way too much. You know what? That's part of maybe being on the road. You're a little bit extra hyped up and you pass the puck and it misses the guy by a foot and it's an icing. That's a mistake."

One way for the Capitals to have a better start at MSG is to stay out of the penalty box. They've given the Rangers nine power-play opportunities in the first period during the series. While New York has struggled on the power play (2-for-21), being in the box has crushed any type of rhythm Washington has tried to gain early in games.

"We obviously don't want that," Oates said.

Rangers: New York's two highest-paid forwards, Rick Nash and Brad Richards, have combined for one goal and one assist in the series. Rangers coach John Tortorella won't even discuss why those two have been struggling.

"I see where all the questions are going. I'm not going to be talking about guys that are fighting it," Tortorella said after being asked a question specific to Nash. "We know both of them are fighting it, I'm not going to get into a public conversation about it. It doesn't do anybody any good."

Nash and Richards couldn't get away from talking about their struggles after practice Saturday.

"There's no excuses," Nash said. "I've got to find a way to do it."

Richards said his goal is to try to wipe out what has happened over the past five games, "but obviously I'd like to have more to account for in the five games. It really doesn't matter. It's what's in front of us right now."

The Rangers do have experience in Game 6 elimination situations. They won Game 6 of the conference quarterfinals last year against the Ottawa Senators and returned home to win Game 7. However, their 2011-12 season came to an end in Game 6 of the conference finals against the New Jersey Devils in Newark.

"I'm definitely not thinking it could be over," goalie Henrik Lundqvist said. "That doesn't help your game. You try to enjoy the moment. It's a big game for us, everybody knows that, but so far we've been doing pretty good at home."

Who's hot: Rangers center Derick Brassard has six points in the past three games. Forward Brian Boyle has scored a goal in each of the past two games. ... Capitals forward Joel Ward has a goal and two assists over the past two games.

Injury report: Rangers forward Ryane Clowe (undisclosed), forward Darroll Powe (undisclosed) and defenseman Marc Staal (eye) likely are out. ... Capitals forwards Martin Erat (upper body) and Brooks Laich (sports hernia) are unlikely to play Sunday, although Oates left open the possibility.

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