GREENBURGH, N.Y. - In his 993rd NHL game tonight, Donald Brashear says he is "going to try to give it a little extra."
After all, Brashear, whose rugged play and potent fists have earned him 2,571 penalty minutes, will face his Capitals teammates of the past three seasons in a regular-season game for the first time.
But the 37-year-old enforcer wasn't referring only to dropping the gloves. With the Rangers protecting a 3-2 lead in New Jersey on Monday, coach John Tortorella deployed his fourth line of Brashear, Brian Boyle and Aaron Voros. That was unusual for a coach who, in his career, has relied heavily on his top three lines.
"I gave them probably five or six shifts in that third period where they controlled the play underneath the hash marks, didn't turn it over," Tortorella said Wednesday. "It was really big minutes. We thought it was important with the three games in four nights. They didn't hurt us, each shift they played against Jersey's fourth line they played very well . . . I've even used [Brashear] with Artie [Artem Anisimov] and Dru [Chris Drury] a couple times. And he's been responsible in our own zone."
Brashear played for the Caps on one-year contracts but appeared in only 63 games last year, his fewest since 2003-04 with the Flyers. Washington didn't make him another offer, and the Rangers grabbed him at a small raise for two years to replace Colton Orr, who signed with the Maple Leafs. Brashear is older, but a better skater, passer and shooter and understands his role.
"I just try to be strong on the puck and make some plays," he said. "We were in the offensive zone [against the Devils], that's what they want from us . . . get some scoring chances and tire their 'D' out for the next line."
Notes & quotes: Sean Avery (knee) will miss his fourth straight game but expects to play Sunday at home against the Ducks.