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Rangers expect Caps to come out smoking

New York Rangers' Michael Del Zotto clears the

New York Rangers' Michael Del Zotto clears the puck as Washington Capitals' Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Knuble chase during the first period of Game 1. (April 28, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- In every playoff series, days off are a time for video reviews, a skate to loosen the legs and perhaps a little self-analysis.

With the Rangers leading 1-0 in their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Washington Capitals, with Game 2 Monday night at Madison Square Garden, there also was time to reflect.

In the first round against the Senators, the Rangers captured Game 1 at the Garden, 4-2, but lost, 3-2, in overtime in Game 2.

"I didn't think we totally deserved to lose that game," Brandon Prust said Sunday. "They scored in the last four minutes [Nick Foligno tied the score at 15:23]. We don't want that to happen again."

For the Capitals, the opposite occurred.

Down 1-0 after the first game against the Bruins, they won Game 2 in Boston on Nicklas Backstrom's goal at 2:56 of the second overtime. Braden Holtby made 43 saves, and the Caps went on to topple the defending champs in seven games.

Rangers coach John Tortorella, who could be named a finalist for the Jack Adams Award as the NHL's top coach Monday, expects more close games.

"That's the way the playoffs have been going," he said. "Other than Pitt-Philly, it's been tight checking all through, [and] we're not a team that blows out a lot of hockey clubs."

The Rangers scored three goals on only 14 shots on Holtby on Saturday, and the Caps were held to one goal on only 18 shots. "I expect them to be better," Mike Rupp said, "and I expect their bigger-name players to shoulder a lot of that load."

Indeed, the Capitals, who practiced at the Garden, said they want to change their demeanor.

"I don't know what to pinpoint exactly, but I think our desperation level wasn't as strong as it used to be," Joel Ward said.

"I think we were a little bit nonchalant," Brooks Laich added.

History indicates that the Capitals need to head home with the series tied 1-1. According to whowins.com, a site that tracks sports results, a team with a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven NHL quarterfinals wins the series 83.8 percent of the time.

The Rangers could have center Brian Boyle, who suffered a concussion in Game 5 in the first round, back soon, but not Brandon Dubinsky, who missed Game 1 with a lower-body injury that he suffered in Game 7. The team is not providing updates on injuries, but Dubinsky was using crutches on his way to the trainer's room Sunday. He was not available for interviews.

Boyle, who had three goals against Ottawa, skated for the third straight day and said he's "progressing" and feeling better.

"You can't really predict what's going to happen," said Boyle, who was felled by a high hit from Chris Neil. "I'm being honest with myself. I want to get back out there, but what's smart and the right thing to do, and what you want to do, don't always match up. I'm optimistic. Hopefully I can be back in there soon."

If needed, defenseman Steve Eminger, who hadn't played forward before the 4:27 of ice time in Game 1, will be back on the fourth line. Said Tortorella, "I wouldn't put him out there if I didn't think he could."

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