After Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau gave The Big No to yesterday morning's questions about the type of reception he might receive after his comments about Madison Square Garden, the teams addressed The Big Mo.

"I think we've grabbed the momentum," Rangers coach John Tortorella said before Wednesday's game, based on his team's 3-2 victory on Sunday. "For us to keep momentum on our side, we're going to have to be much better in all areas . . . In all series, as each game goes by, it's ramped up. This is the stage where you have to keep on getting better and if you don't, you're done."

Home-ice advantange that allows matchups with the last change, he said, "wasn't that hard . . . Strategically, I think there is a lot of different things that come into play. It's seizing the moment and how you handle the momentum swings."

Caps star Alex Ovechkin saw it differently: "I don't know who has momentum, we or them. It's a new game, and an important game for both teams. We have to win and they have to win . . . We're going to see [on Thursday] if we have momentum."

The Capitals either sped through or controlled the neutral zone for most of Game 1 in the series, and forced the Rangers to make adjustments.

Rather than backing up, the Blueshirts' blueliners -- from Marc Staal and Dan Girardi to rookies Ryan McDonagh and Michael Sauer -- inched up and attempted to disrupt plays in center ice.

"I don't think in our first game we did enough," McDonagh said. "Once they start weaving, it's tough to stop them. In [Game 3] we tried to come up a little more to prevent them from being able to weave."

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Playoff bites

The Caps' Mike Knuble, who had 24 goals this season and scored in Game 3, was scratched. The right wing took a Mike Green shot off his hand in Game 3 and has not skated in three days . . . Rangers D Steve Eminger was a healthy scratch for the third consecutive game.