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Rangers want to clean up mistakes in Game 2

by Dan Rosen / NHL.com

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The devastation the New York Rangers felt after losing on a last-second goal Thursday gave way to a work day Friday that was about learning from their mistakes.

"It's just a loss," center Derek Stepan said. "We're moving on to Game 2."

Joel Ward's goal with 1.3 seconds remaining gave the Washington Capitals a 2-1 win and a 1-0 lead in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference Second Round series.

Game 2 is Saturday at Madison Square Garden (12:30 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports).

"A loss is a loss in the playoffs, and to tell you the truth none of them, whether it be playoffs or regular season, are easy to digest," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "What you've gotta do is you've gotta learn from the games that you play. There's definitely things that we can learn from [Thursday] night."

Vigneault went on to list them in a demonstrative manner, at times banging the side of his hand on the podium to enunciate his point.

"We can't stop playing on a play," he said. "That's what happened on that last play."

Rangers defenseman Dan Boyle was trying to freeze the puck in the corner with seconds to play when he was hit by Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom. The puck jarred loose, and Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin got it behind the net, but nobody covered Ward in the slot. Ovechkin delivered a pass across his body to Ward and the shot went through goalie Henrik Lundqvist's legs.

"Tough way to lose a game," Boyle said. "I don't know what else to say other than that."

Vigneault was clearly unhappy with the way Backstrom hit Boyle. Vigneault yelled at the officials after the play and touched on the subject of hitting from behind Friday, referring to Ovechkin's hit to the back of New York Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey in the second period of Game 7 of the first-round series Monday.

"The standards have been set to what's allowed as far as hitting from behind: Ovechkin on Hickey, [Thursday] night on Boyle," Vigneault said. "We know what the standards are, play up to those standards."

Vigneault declined to comment on how the officials are calling the games.

"I said [Thursday] night I wasn't going to comment on the refereeing and I'm not going to do that," Vigneault said. "I just pointed out the fact that the standards are what they are right now, we've gotta deal with them and move on."

Part of moving on is figuring out how to stop the Capitals' top line of Backstrom, Ovechkin and Ward. They scored both goals, including Ovechkin's power-play goal at 18:13 of the first period, along with nine shots on goal and 21 shot attempts.

Ward hit the post off an open look from the slot at 9:54 of the third period.

"Their top line, I mean, I could say they had their way with us," Vigneault said. "They probably had more than two-thirds of their chances. We need to do a better job against that line without a doubt."

Vigneault said he wants the Rangers defensemen to activate more to join the rush, a part of their game that was a big reason they won the Presidents' Trophy in the regular season, but not at the expense of defending Backstrom, Ovechkin and Ward.

"You've gotta know who you're out against, and at this point in time I would say when 19's line is out there, don't do it," Vigneault said. "They had so many good looks [Thursday] night."

Vigneault didn't take issue with how much time the Rangers spent with the puck in the offensive zone, but he lamented the chances that never materialized. He said their execution has to be better, and part of that is getting more from the defensemen when the opportunity is right.

"One goal won't cut it," Vigneault said.

The Rangers have scored one goal in regulation in each of their past three games, including Games 4 and 5 of the first round against the Pittsburgh Penguins. They won each of those games 2-1 in overtime.

The Rangers said they felt they made life too easy for Capitals goalie Braden Holtby in Game 1 Thursday. Holtby made 31 saves, many on shots from the perimeter. The Capitals also blocked 19 of New York's shots, many on second-chance opportunities.

"We've had good looks that we haven't capitalized on," Vigneault said. "We need to find a way to finish. Our guys are aware of that. We have some good personnel, we need some help from our back end, and we need to get the job done."

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