WASHINGTON - It was another one-goal game, amazingly, the 10th straight in the playoffs for the Rangers, and thanks to a couple of bounces, they came out on the losing end Monday night.
Fronted by a stout defense, goaltender Braden Holtby stopped all 30 Rangers shots as the Capitals whitewashed the Blueshirts, 1-0, to take a 2-1 lead in the second-round series.
In 15 playoff games since 2009 at Verizon Center, the Rangers have won only four times. That's a trend they will have to reverse in Game 4 Wednesday night or face a 3-1 deficit.
"We have to try and bring the same energy [next game]," said Martin St. Louis, who had numerous chances to score his first goal in eight playoff games but was denied by Holtby on a breakaway and missed the net on several other shots. "They're bound to go in."
The lone goal was scored by Jay Beagle at 7:31 of the second period on a backhander from behind the Rangers' net that hit Keith Yandle's skate, then hit Henrik Lundqvist's outstretched left skate and slid inside the post across the goal line. Beagle's last playoff goal was May 6, 2013, against Lundqvist.
It was Holtby's second career playoff shutout and the first time the Rangers were held scoreless in the playoffs since last year in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Kings at the Garden.
"It's tough luck," said Lundqvist, who made 21 saves. "It went off Keith's leg, hit me and the next thing you know, it's in the net. It's one of those plays that might happen in a game like this. It's kind of hard for both teams to create big chances. We've got to get the next one. It's not going to be easy."
Dan Girardi turned the puck over to Andre Burakovsky to set up the winning goal. Then the Capitals' defense buttoned up. "It's going to be such a tight series," Girardi said. "Whoever has the lead, they're defending well."
Rick Nash, who took a game-high seven shots on goal and had another eight attempts either miss or get blocked, credited the Capitals' blueliners, who blocked 27 shots. "When we're in front, they're stepping in front of us and blocking shots," he said. "It's a battle in front and you've got to win that battle, especially the second rebounds that are sitting there. They're getting to them."
The Capitals also dominated in the faceoff circle, winning 69 percent (40-for-58) of the draws. "Tonight, obviously, was not one of our good games," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "The Capitals' centermen are doing a real good job. We have to improve."
With about seven minutes to play, the Rangers buzzed Holtby and had several opportunities to tie the score, but Dominic Moore and Kevin Hayes just missed shots in front. Lundqvist was pulled with 1:20 to play and Nash tipped a shot high with 46.6 seconds left that Holtby gloved.
The Rangers wanted to come out strong to diminish the energy of the loud crowd, most wearing red, and they accomplished that. They kept the Caps in their zone for several shifts and led 6-0 in shots, including one by Nash that Holtby gloved, before Lundqvist had to smother Joel Ward's shot at 6:17 after Marcus Johansson missed wide. They also killed two Capitals power plays. But the Rangers came up empty on their two power plays.
"We're going to need new heroes every night," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "That's how we have to get it done."
The Rangers are going to need some heroes, too, or the offseason could start early.