-- Erik Christensen said he spoke with John Tortorella last week about how the struggling center could improve. "He wants me to be around the front of the net a little more, try not to play so conservative, so defensive and not be worrying about getting scored on when I'm out there," Christensen said.

He was definitely around the net more tonight, with a redirection of Michael Sauer's alert pass in the first and a gimme on the power play in the second. He also had primary assists on Vinny Prospal's and Brian Boyle's third-period goals to seal the rout.

Christensen was starting to look like the odd man out when the Rangers forwards were fully healthy. That may never happen, but at least he's putting his considerable skill to use now and perhaps make it a real debate for Tortorella if and when the forwards are all available.

-- Speaking of injured forwards, Ruslan Fedotenko may have re-injured his separated shoulder on John Erskine's second-period hit. "It may just be scar tissue, we'll have to see," Tortorella said. Don't count on Fedotenko for Sunday against the Lightning, so Kris Newbury may have a quick turnaround after being waived today. He comes off waivers at noon on Sunday, so he can be recalled right away if need be.

-- Tortorella wasn't thrilled with Michael Sauer's decision to drop the gloves with Jason Chimera 2:25 in, but it worked out fine, since Steve Eminger brought an edge back to his second game in 11 and Matt Gilroy handled himself well. "Michael Sauer hasn't turned down anybody this season (for a fight)," Tortorella said. "With Marc (Staal) out, you're not sure right then."

But he was sure about Sauer's incredibly good night. The rookie was, as almost always, steady, confident and physical. His pinch along the boards and perfect pass to set up Christensen gives Sauer three assists in five games. He's been an incredible find.

-- Oh, and Henrik Lundqvist leads the NHL with eight shutouts. If it hadn't been such a disinterested Caps squad save for Alex Ovechkin, Lundqvist might have stood out more. He was excellent tonight.

-- Caps coach Bruce Boudreau called it one of the worst home losses in his 10 years as a coach. They were atrocious, and now they're without Mike Green again, whom Boudreau said would miss tonight's game against the Islanders as a precaution. A concussion seems pretty certain.

-- Rangers practice tomorrow, so we'll see if Staal can get on the ice.

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