Rangers-Capitals Preview

Perhaps Washington Capitals forward Brooks Laich thinks that

saying something makes it so. Or maybe he’s a believer in the power

of positive thinking.

Laich used the phrase ”keep moving forward” over and over

again – five times in all – on Tuesday while discussing how he and

his teammates need to recover and regroup from a potentially

devastating loss to the New York Rangers if the Capitals are going

to avoid elimination in Game 6 on Wednesday night.

The top-seeded Rangers lead the series 3-2, one victory from

reaching the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since

1997, when a certain guy by the name of Wayne Gretzky was on the

team.

”We want to close it out and get this over with. It’s a lot

easier said than done,” Rangers forward Brad Richards said. ”We

want to be as desperate as they are.”

With No. 7-seeded Washington on the verge of taking control of

the semifinal series Monday night, Richards tied Game 5 with less

than 10 seconds left, and Marc Staal won it about 1 1/2 minutes

into overtime.

”You can’t really write that; that’s something you can’t

script. You keep moving forward,” Laich said. ”Good breaks, bad

breaks. We just keep moving forward.”

As much as there might be for the Capitals to lament about how

things went awry – two-time NHL MVP Alex Ovechkin had zero shots on

goal for only the second time in 49 career NHL playoff games;

Washington lost the game’s last seven faceoffs; Joel Ward’s

double-minor penalty gave the Rangers power plays at the end of

regulation and the start of overtime – they want to do whatever it

takes to forget all of it.

”Everyone’s realizing that: Let’s just get it out of our heads

now. Let’s just focus on what we need to focus on,” defenseman

John Carlson said. ”That stuff happens. It’s no one’s fault.

There’s no one to blame.”

As it happens, the Capitals have shown a capacity for moving on

quickly:

– They’re 3-0 in games following overtime losses this

postseason, including taking Game 4 after a three-OT defeat against

the Rangers in Game 3.

– They haven’t lost consecutive games since March 22-23.

– Goalie Braden Holtby has played 28 straight NHL games without

losing two in a row, a streak that dates to November 2010.

Why is that?

”We control our emotions a little better. I mean, even when we

win, we’re not bouncing off the ceiling. It’s more of a business

atmosphere. And when we lose, we know we can bounce back,” Laich

said. ”I mean, we have a very good hockey team. We never get too

high, never get too low. We stay pretty composed.”

As for whether New York will be looking ahead at all, Rangers

coach John Tortorella said: ”We won’t be overconfident. This team

doesn’t get overconfident.”

If Washington does manage to win Wednesday, Game 7 would be

Saturday in New York.

For the Capitals to extend the series, though, odds are they’ll

need to score the opening goal of Game 6. So far in these playoffs,

Washington is 6-1 when it scores first, and 0-5 when its opponent

does.

”The start is always big. You want to try to get momentum as

quick as you can. That’s always the focus,” Rangers forward Brian

Boyle said. ”I just expect their intensity to ramp up even more.

We have to do the same and match it.”

NOTES: Tortorella on Richards, who was the playoffs MVP when

their Tampa Bay Lightning won the 2004 Stanley Cup: ”I don’t have

to say much to him. He knows how to assess his game. He’s a guy

that I think mentors people. It’s one of the reasons he wanted to

be here. He could see how young a team it was and he wanted to be

involved in the mentoring.” … The Capitals met at their practice

facility Tuesday for a video session, but only players who aren’t

expected to be on the ice in Game 6 skated. … The Rangers held an

optional practice at Madison Square Garden before taking the train

to Washington. … How does Ovechkin deal with a Rangers defense

that became the first to hold him without a shot in the playoffs

since Montreal did it on April 15, 2010? ”Got to keep trying to

get pucks to the net,” Capitals coach Dale Hunter said. … New

York and Washington have scored as many as four goals in a game

only once each this postseason; both did it in the first round. …

11 of Washington’s 12 playoff games have been decided by one

goal.

AP Sports Writer Ira Podell in New York contributed to this

report.