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Brad Richards says Rangers in synch; Derek Stepan OK

Derek Stepan celebrates his second-period goal during a

Derek Stepan celebrates his second-period goal during a game against the Carolina Hurricanes at Madison Square Garden. (March 18, 2013) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

WASHINGTON -- He never saw it coming. Fifty-one seconds into the third period Wednesday, Caps forward Troy Brouwer blindsided Rangers center Derek Stepan with a forearm in neutral ice, clipping him in the helmet.

Stepan went down and eventually skated to the dressing room; Brouwer was not penalized. The Rangers center returned to the bench with about 13 minutes left.  

“The referee said it was accidental contact,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said afterward. “I just looked at the replay, if he couldn’t see (Stepan), I don’t know what he was looking at. Obviously the principal point of contact was the head. He went through the (concuss\ion) protocol and said he was good to go.”

Stepan, who played 15:16, wasn’t upset with Brouwer, and said the Caps forward told him on the ice that he didn't see him. He called it “a hockey play.” We'll see if the NHL looks at it Thursday anyway. have a feeling Mr. Sather may be making a call to Mr. Shanahan.

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Most Rangers believed that the Rangers put it all together in their sixth game and set the tone in the opening period. “It’s those simple little chips behind (the defense), making them go get it with speed---that’s a tough thing,” said Brad Richards. “That’s something we maybe took a lesson from in the San Jose (a 9-2 loss) and Anaheim (a 6-0 loss) games. Those teams were just coming down, chipping pucks and forechecking us. Our d-zone, our neutral zone, everything was a lot more in sync. You could tell we were on the same page a lot tonight.”

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Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh led the Rangers with 24:08 and 25:14 in ice time, and kept Alex Ovechkin off the board, although he had eight shots on goal and 14 attempted shots….Justin Falk dropped the gloves with Tom Wilson at 17:42 of the first, his first fight as a Ranger, but played just five minutes in the second and third periods as Vigneault went with five defensemen…Ryan Callahan led the team with six shots; Richards and John Moore, who was rewarded for his goal and overall play with the (new) Broadway Hat by Richards, had five...Benoit Pouliot was largely invisible again.

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Rangers shifted gears and will not practice today, but will hit the ice at 11 a.m. Friday to prep for first matchup with Devils on Saturday in Newark, the team's seventh straight road game. More on that coming up later today...

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