Live from D.C. Game 7, Game Night. it's Go Time...

                             For either the Rangers or the Capitals, the short but bumpy road that began after the NHL lockout will end tonight.

                             The teams headed into Game 7 with each club having won three games on home ice and with the Capitals, who overtook the Winnipeg Jets to win the Southeast Divison and were seeded third in the postseason, hosting the Rangers, who went 10-3-1 in April to finish sixth in the Eastern Conference, at a sold-out Verizon Center.

                             “It’s another game that we’ve got to win,” said Rangers forward Brian Boyle. ‘We haven’t had the success we wanted to (on the road in the playoffs). It doesn’t really matter now. We can play it anywhere.”

                             The Rangers, who had never won a Game 7 on the road, stayed alive and forced the showdown with a 1-0 victory at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, as Henrik Lundqvist posted his seventh career playoff shutout and Derick Brassard scored his second goal and team-leading seventh point.

                             To be sure, the Rangers were again counting on Lundqvist, who has a .937 save percentage in this series and .941 in three previous Game 7s, and they have come close at Verizon Center, where two of the losses were in overtime.

                             “I think there’s a (Game 7) advantage to the home team, but I don’t care,” said coach John Tortorella. Asked where he team had been consistent in the tight series, he said: “I think we have defended pretty well, you guys give me a lot of (crap) about we only scored 11 goals---they’ve scored 12---so I think we’ve done a pretty good job there, and our goaltending has been outstanding, so I’ll give you those two.”Last spring, in the Rangers 4-3 series win in the conference semifinals, the Rangers scored 15 goals, Washington 13. 

                            Except for the special teams disparity, statistically, the teams are almost dead even. On the power play, the Capitals are 3-for-14, 21.4 percent; and the Rangers are a woeful 2 for 26, 7.7 percent. The Capitals have scored 12 goals, the Rangers 11. The Capitals average 31.8 shots per game; the Rangers 29.7, and the Rangers have won 50.7 percent of faceoffs.

                          Three of the Rangers who scored 48 goals in the 48-game regular season---Rick Nash (21), Brad Richards (11) and captain Ryan Callahan (16) have scored just two goals.  

                             “Ryan Callahan will always do the other things (defensively), but we certainly need the other part of it. He’s that important to us,” said Tortorella. “Here we are now, in Game 7, I think a few of our guys are due, I’m sure they’re saying the same thing over on their side.”

                           Alex Ovechkin, for example, has no points in the last four games.

                           The survivor would face the winner of Monday’s other Game 7 between the Bruins and Maple Leafs in the second round. During the regular season, the Rangers were 2-1 against each team. The Blueshirts beat the Leafs 5-2 on Jan. 26 in New York, lost 4-3 on April 8 in Toronto and won 3-2 in a shootout on April 10 in New York.

                              The Rangers haven’t played the Bruins in three months. They lost 3-1 Jan. 19 in Boston, won 4-3 in overtime on Jan. 23 in New York and won 4-3 in a shootout on Feb. 12 in Boston.

                              “Whenever you have an opportunity to play in this scenario, you’re going to draw from that and what made you successful,” said Chris Kreider, who played in Game 7 wins last year over the Senators and Capitals. “What stands out are the little details of the game. The season ends up riding on one game, it’s do or die.”

                                                 

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