Rangers say they need to make Capitals goalie Braden Holtby work harder
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GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- If you ask the Rangers, the formula to grab Game 3 in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the Washington Capitals and avoid a 3-0 deficit isn't complex: More traffic in front of goaltender Braden Holtby. More forechecking. And, of course, more goals.
After a short practice Sunday, the Rangers -- who trail 2-0 in the best-of-seven series, which shifts to Madison Square Garden Monday night and Wednesday night -- were focused on playing tougher against Holtby, who said Game 2 "wasn't a very hard game for me" after a 24-save shutout.
"If he's thinking that, we've got to be better," defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. "Go to the dirty areas, make it hard. Make it so he can't get out of his crease. That's one area we can focus on. That might help us have a puck deflect in off somebody, something like that. Maybe we just need to put a couple more bodies around the net."
Brian Boyle, who returned in Game 2 after missing seven games with a right leg injury, said: "It's a good way to start, trying to get traffic, and get some momentum that way."
With Boyle and Derek Dorsett (broken clavicle) back in the lineup, the Rangers sometimes managed to get pucks behind the Capitals defensemen and cycle in the offensive zone below the goal line, but they didn't convert on their opportunities.
"We've just got to find a way to get it in the back of the net," said Derek Stepan who, along with Rick Nash, Ryan Callahan, Brad Richards and Mats Zuccarello, haven't scored in the series. "All it takes is maybe one shift to get the momentum on your side . . . Both teams are defending as hard as they can, and it's tough to sustain constant pressure. You're on your heels one shift and on your toes the next."
Zuccarello hopes the energy in the crowd and the excitement in the building will be a plus. "We're excited to be back in the Garden with our fans there," he said. "It's our time to have a little bit of an advantage there. We're down 2-0. We've got to take one game at a time and not overthink this."
Overthinking and hesitating on the power play, which is 0-for-7, also has to change. Said Callahan, "We definitely need to move the puck quickly, put two or three passes together and get the puck to the net."
Notes & quotes: Carl Hagelin was given a maintenance day but said "I'm good" when he exited the workout room . . . Ryane Clowe, who has been out since April 25 with what is believed to be a concussion and hasn't had any real contact, skated for the first time in a regular jersey. He said a return to the lineup for Game 3 is "a possibility. I feel pretty good. I think it's day-by-day." Clowe, who was 18-27-45 in 68 postseason games with the San Jose Sharks, said: "Playoff games are so intense and physical. I just love that. That's kind of why I wanted to come here, to help make a push in the playoffs, and to have to watch the first couple games has been real difficult. When I come back, I'll be ready."