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NHL Playoffs: Blueshirts taking a quick crash course

When the Rangers say they want to get in front of the Capitals, they don’t just mean on the scoreboard.

When the Rangers say they want to get in front of the Capitals, they don’t just mean on the scoreboard.

After mustering a lone goal on 47 shots in the two games at the Verizon Center, the Rangers collectively went to the net and scored three times on 35 shots in a 3-2 Game 3 win Sunday afternoon at the Garden.

Early in the match the Rangers attempted stretch passes to little success. Washington had four players in the neutral zone in an effort to eliminate breakaways. The one chance the Rangers did have was a first period 2-on-1 in which Matt Gilroy fired into goaltender Michal Neuvirth’s midsection.

As the game progressed, the Rangers reverted to the battle along the boards, forecheck and cycle game that was so effective in the regular season.
“They didn’t do anything different. They just worked hard,” Bruce Boudreau offered. “They did that the other two games. They finished their checks. They worked hard.”

Their hard work paid off on all three goals and one that did not count. Derek Stepan screened Neuvirth on Erik Christensen’s game-opening power play laser 5:30 into the second period. Vinny Prospal slammed a Marc Staal rebound into a half-empty net and Brandon Dubinsky’s game-winner came off a rush to the net. Even Ruslan Fedotenko’s disallowed goal at the end of the second came off of a goalmouth scramble.

“We tried to. We said that after Game 1, too. We needed more of that and we got it,” Brian Boyle said of the go-to-the-net mindset that permeated the room. “We got guys in front for goals and close call goals. We kept doing that, we kept getting chances.

“We were all there. (Linemate Brandon Prust) was going to the net (and brings) half of the Caps with him at one point. That’s the attitude we have to have. I’m sure they are going to box us out in Game 4. It just every game it seems to ramp up a little bit.”

At this time of the year, there are no secrets. Washington fully expected the Rangers to drive to the net Sunday. Certainly, Boudreau and his coaching staff will expound on that topic leading into Wednesday’s game.

“They came out how we expected them to. I think they did a nice job around the net. The third goal was played around the net and the second goal was a deflection,” analyzed Mike Knuble. “They just seemed to be around the net a little more. I think that was the obvious game plan for them.”

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