WASHINGTON -- Perhaps some Rangers reinforcements will arrive today for Game 2 of their first-round matchup with the Capitals. Maybe a healthy Brian Boyle gets to dress. Ryane Clowe is a longer shot.
No matter the lineup, the Rangers dearly want to even the best-of-seven series with the Capitals at a game apiece before returning to New York for Games 3 and 4.
Thursday night's 3-1 loss at Verizon Center "just makes it that much more of a must-win," said Rick Nash, who scored 21 goals during the regular season and had eight shots on goal in Game 1, five attempts blocked and three misses.
With 35 shots on Braden Holtby, 25 attempts blocked and 18 misses, the Rangers were letting fly. "We had some good chances," Nash said. "Once we do get the opportunities on the power play [which was 0-for-4], we've got to bear down. In big games, you've got to bear down."
Holtby, who played very well in the seven-game showdown that the Rangers survived last spring, "made some big saves for them at times, the breakaway [by Carl Hagelin] and other stuff" in Game 1, Derek Stepan said after yesterday's short practice, "I don't think it matters. You just continue to get pucks and bodies to the front of the net."
Center Derick Brassard, who skated in his first NHL playoff game, expects to feel more at ease. "The intensity was what I expected. It's not going to be any different. The approach isn't changing for me," he said. "I'm going to feel a little more comfortable. You try to get the first shift out of the way, especially on the road. We need to score more goals. That's the bottom line."
Coach John Tortorella is eyeing a better start. The Capitals "were shooting the puck from everywhere," he said. "There wasn't a lot of great scoring chances. Having Zucc [Mats Zuccarello] jump on the ice for the wrong guy 34 seconds in didn't help, so we definitely want more of a territorial-type start, but I thought we did a really good job of getting through that part and finding ourselves in the second half of the period.
"Again, we don't get the second goal; I think it could change the complexion, and we had opportunities to get it. They score on their breakaway and take a lead."
Zuccarello hopes to bounce back. "We didn't come into the series expecting to win four-nothing," he said. "We just have to stay positive. A goal on the power play would be nice, but we created chances five-on-five. I think we played with an edge. We love playing in front of our fans, but we should have the mind-set of coming back to New York 1-1."