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With series even, Rangers, Caps chase pivotal win

by Dave Lozo

(Best-of-seven series tied, 2-2)


Big Story:
It looks like these teams are big fans of playing seven-game series. After each team won in the first round in seven games, they have alternated wins and losses through four games in the second round. It's been all about shot blocking and defense, and that figures to be the story yet again in Game 5.

Team Scope:

Capitals: There was a time in the not-too-distant past when the Capitals would fold under pressure. That's not the case this year, as Braden Holtby has been a steady rock in the net and the rest of the team has exceled in one-goal games throughout the playoffs.

Center Brooks Laich said that the final few weeks of the regular season prepared them for the postseason.

"Even if you back to the last month of the regular season, those were the types of games we were in," Laich said. "When we got to the playoffs and got into these games, there was no surprise, there was no wow factor or anything that caught us off-guard. We've been used to playing this way. I think coming in with that last month especially, it really helped us prepare for this style of play."

One of the staples of the club has been blocking shots. Whether it's captain Ryan Callahan, defenseman Dan Girardi or even Marian Gaborik, everyone is willing to put themselves in harm's way.

The only problem in this series is the Rangers have run into a team that is just as willing to sacrifice. The Capitals are averaging 26.25 shot blocks per game in this series and no team has been better in the postseason.

"It's hard to play against a team like that," Callahan said Sunday. "They're really good in the defensive zone. They're similar to us in our style the way we block shots and collapse. The big thing is frustration, you can't let that creep in. You just got to keep banging away, keep playing. We're not frustrated in here. We realize what we have to do. We just have to go out there and do it."

Who's Hot:
For the Capitals, Alex Ovechkin has two goals in his past three games. Marian Gaborik has scored in two consecutive games for the Rangers.

Injury Report: Brandon Dubinsky of the Rangers is dealing with a lower-body injury and will not play. Forward Mats Zuccarello is also out, but practiced Monday for the first time since March 23.

Stat Pack:
Of the seven teams remaining in the postseason the Caps and Rangers are ranked sixth and seventh in goals per game.

Puck Drop:
"My approach doesn't change during a game. I try to approach it the same way. Instead of thinking, 'I can't give up the next shot,' I try to focus on, 'I want to save the next shot.' It's a big difference in the way you think. It doesn't matter what the score is during a game. You try to approach it the same way." -- Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, on playing in so many low-scoring games.

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