Brian Boyle skates against the Washington Capitals during Game Two...

Brian Boyle skates against the Washington Capitals during Game Two of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. (April 30, 2012) Credit: Jim McIsaac

WASHINGTON -- Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi blamed themselves on Steve Oleksy's home run pass to Marcus Johansson at the Rangers' blue line for a breakaway that gave the Capitals a 2-1 lead in their 3-1 victory in Game 1 Thursday night.

"I think it's more myself not being in the middle," said Girardi, who played 29 minutes. "That pass happens a lot. It's not the best pass I've ever seen, but it was a good one."

Said McDonagh: "It's a high-level pass . . . but our first look should be to the middle. We need to be better."

Boyle nears returnBrian Boyle was sidelined for Game 1, but he appeared closer to returning than some of his injured teammates.

Boyle skated Thursday in an optional practice for the first time since he injured his right leg April 18. He appeared to move without pain. "It feels good," Boyle said. "It's the playoffs. I want to be out there as quick as I can, so . . . I'm trying to feel as good as I can as fast as I can. We have a whole staff of medical guys; I'm not the doctor."

"He looks good. He was flying around out there," said defenseman Marc Staal, whose status is less clear.

"I felt pretty good," said Staal, who has missed 27 games since being struck in the right eye by a puck March 5 against the Flyers. "I'll go at it again tomorrow."

Staal, who has been skating for about a month, still has blurred vision and is adjusting. "When I can jump into a playoff-type game and not be hesitating or second-guessing myself out there," he said. "If it's Game 10 or something, I might jump out there for a few shifts and see how it goes. Right now, the stakes are too high. The guys are doing a great job. I don't want to compromise that by going out there and not being able to compete at a high level."

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