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Rangers' woes on power play prove costly

New York Rangers center Derek Stepan (21) reacts

New York Rangers center Derek Stepan (21) reacts after his shot was stopped by Washington Capitals goalie Michal Neuvirth during the third period in Game 5. (April 23, 2011) Photo Credit: AP

WASHINGTON -- From the beginning of the season, the Rangers shuffled personnel in an attempt to create a vibrant power play. Nothing worked.

Michael Del Zotto, the team's quarterback last season, struggled and was sent to the AHL. Marian Gaborik, who had 14 power-play goals last season, had seven this year. Coach John Tortorella tried four forwards and shuffled point men, trying Gaborik, Mats Zuccarello, Derek Stepan and others. Bryan McCabe, acquired at the trade deadline, wasn't the answer, and the problem spilled over into the playoffs, when the Rangers went 1-for-20.

"We didn't win enough battles on the power play, and as far as I'm concerned, that's the difference in the series," Brandon Dubinsky said. "0-for-7, 1-for-7, we've got to find a way to get that moving. Tonight [0-for-2] we changed our look, and I thought it was the best it's been all series."

But the Capitals, who were 3-for-16 in the series, scored a power-play goal at 5:59 to take a 1-0 lead and were never tied.

"When you look at teams who go deep in the playoffs, most of the time their power play gets them a big goal when they need it," Marc Staal said. "It changes the momentum, and we just were unable to get them this series, and it hurt us. They're smart when they jump and pressure the points. They don't really give you all that much time. But you still have a man advantage; you've got to figure out a way to get some goals."

Girardi shows toughness

Defenseman Dan Girardi, part of a melee near the net after the Capitals' first goal, dislocated a finger and played only 2:08 in the first period. He returned to play a total of 16:50. "He was our best defenseman throughout the series," Tortorella said. "He came back . . . I'll tell you, high marks for him." . . . The Rangers did not score in the first period in any of the five games.

New York Sports