Capitals-Rangers Preview

The New York Rangers had such a simple plan when they got home

from Washington in an 0-2 hole against the Capitals: find a way to

get one win.

It worked so well in a hard-fought 4-3 victory on Monday night

that they are heading into Wednesday’s Game 4 at Madison Square

Garden with the very same objective.

”All we were focused on is doing whatever we could to try to

win a game,” Rangers coach John Tortorella said. ”We did that,

and now we need to try to win one more game, and we’ll see what

happens from there.”

While the Capitals stayed off the ice on Tuesday to recover, the

Rangers held a full practice. They were without forward Rick Nash,

who was given a ”maintenance day,” and Darroll Powe, who was

injured on Monday and is unlikely to play in Game 4.

If the Rangers can win again Wednesday, they will assure

themselves of hosting Game 6 after a game in between in Washington

on Friday.

After netting only one goal in the two road losses – including a

1-0 overtime defeat in Game 2 – the Rangers’ offense broke out. New

York even scored a power-play goal and added another tally just as

another advantage ended.

”We didn’t break,” said Rangers forward Derick Brassard, who

had a goal and two assists on Monday. ”I think our bunch was

really positive. Guys were really confident that we tried to find a

way to win the game. At the end of the game our top line came out

strong for us. They were competing hard all game. They came out

huge for us to get that goal.

That winner was scored by Derek Stepan, who deflected a pass

from Nash in behind goalie Braden Holtby with 6:25 left in

regulation. It was the Rangers’ second tiebreaking goal of the

third period.

It never would’ve happened if defenseman Ryan McDonagh hadn’t

deftly kept the puck in the Washington end just before it was about

to leave the zone at the left point. McDonagh moved the puck to

Mats Zuccarello, who got it to Nash for the winning play.

The moment was sweet redemption for the 23-year-old McDonagh,

whose delay-of-game penalty when he inadvertently shot the puck out

of play led directly to Mike Green’s overtime goal in Game 2 on

Saturday.

”He makes a mistake, and to me that’s not a mistake, it’s just

happenstance,” Tortorella said of the Game 2 penalty. ”It never

bothers him. It killed him after the game, but that’s what, at such

a young age, that he has. He is able to recover and go out and

play. It doesn’t surprise me at all how he handled himself.”

McDonagh also has the daunting task of trying to keep top

Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin in check. Ovechkin had no points

while logging over 22 minutes of ice time in Game 3.

Ovechkin wasn’t one of the few players the Capitals made

available to reporters at the team hotel on Tuesday, but coach Adam

Oates addressed comments from McDonagh that Ovechkin seemed tired

before the Rangers scored the winning goal.

”I don’t think he was tired,” Oates said. ”I think that I

didn’t do a good enough job getting him in his rhythm, probably

because of penalties.”

The Capitals were short-handed six times and received only three

power plays of their own. The last came with 1:54 remaining after

Ovechkin was high-sticked by Brad Richards.

Washington pulled Holtby for an extra skater, giving the

Capitals a 6-on-4 skating advantage, and put on lots of pressure in

the Rangers’ end. While the Capitals controlled the puck as time

ran down, they never got a shot in on goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

”They did a really good job of protecting him,” Oates said of

Lundqvist. ”We probably just could have tried a better way to get

to the net just to start the process of him not being able to cover

his rebounds, get to the second waves. We were probably too cute

with it.”

The Capitals scored on two of their seven power-play chances in

their two wins.

”These guys have been through this before. It’s playoffs.

You’re not going to win every game,” Oates said. ”There are a lot

of things we could fix. You have got to give them a little bit of

credit.”

Outside of Powe’s injury, the Rangers continue to get healthier.

They got forward Brian Boyle back earlier in the series, and he had

a goal and assist on Monday, and defenseman Marc Staal returned in

Game 3 from a serious eye injury sustained on March 5.

Rugged forward Ryane Clowe has been sidelined by a suspected

concussion since the final week of the regular season. He went

through battle drills in practice on Tuesday, and might be able to

rejoin the lineup in Powe’s place on Wednesday.

”Like any other player, you want to play,” Clowe said.

”Sometimes it’s not thinking about the smart decision. At this

time of year, I want to play. I did some contact stuff on ice, some

battle stuff I haven’t done yet. I felt pretty good, and we’ll see

how the rest of the day goes.”