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Rangers pay a price for slow start

by Dave Lozo

WASHINGTON -- The slow start didn't seal the Rangers' fate Saturday afternoon, but it certainly didn't help their cause.

Coming off a physically and mentally draining triple-overtime victory in Game 3 on Wednesday, the Rangers were overwhelmed in the first period of Game 4. The Capitals left the first 20 minutes with a one-goal lead and a 14-3 advantage in shots.


Capitals even series with 3-2 win

By Dave Lozo - Staff Writer
Mike Green scored a power-play goal with just 5:48 remaining in the third, lifting the Capitals to a 3-2 victory over the Rangers and tying this Eastern Conference Semifinal series at two games apiece. READ MORE ›

The game was tied late in the third period and Caps defenseman Mike Green won it with a power-play goal with 5:48 remaining to even the Eastern Conference Semifinal series at 2-2. But perhaps without that lackluster first 20 minutes, the outcome would've been different for the Rangers.

"I felt pretty good," said Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who made 23 saves and felt he should've stopped Alex Ovechkin's first-period goal. "For the most part, the pucks I saw, I tried to stop but it was definitely a challenging first period. But we bounced back and played well in the second half of this game."

The Capitals took advantage of an Anton Stralman interference penalty 2:25 into the first period. They didn't score during the two minutes of the man advantage, but they peppered Lundqvist with six shots, seizing momentum that they didn't relinquish for the rest of the period.

With 7:17 remaining in the period, Ovechkin capitalized on a turnover by the Rangers' Chris Kreider and one-timed a long shot that eluded Lundqvist's catching glove to make it 1-0.

"They got that power play and kind of put us on our heels a bit," Rangers defenseman Marc Staal said. "They were able to get some forechecks in on us. They were shooting a lot of pucks so it took us a while to get a hold of a couple and start getting some momentum back."

"We got caught behind a little bit there in the first," center Brad Richards said. "They were shooting pucks and got a lot of momentum off that first power play. We were just a little bit in between. They got some shots and momentum, but it was still only 1-0 and tie game in the third period."

For the second straight series, the Rangers will return home for a Game 5 with a tied series after having a chance to take a 3-1 lead. They fell into a 3-2 hole against the Ottawa Senators before rallying to win in seven games, and Lundqvist said that's just the nature of the playoffs.

"Two good teams were playing," Lundqvist said. "They aren't just going to lay down and give it to us. I think they came out way more aggressive. I don't really have a good explanation. We're playing good teams. It's going to be a battle to the end."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo

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