In Game 2 of their second-round series with the Washington Capitals, the New York Rangers realized firsthand that mistakes are often the difference in games, whether you outplayed the opponent or not. For long stretches, the Rangers controlled the pace, yet they fell 3-2 because of a few costly mistakes and penalties.
With the series tied at one, the Rangers travel to Washington on Wednesday for Game 3, which will be played at 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN). New York is 2-1 on the road in the playoffs, while the Capitals are 1-2 at home.
Despite a number of good signs in the Game 2 loss, there remains one player who has been invisible in the postseason. Marian Gaborik may have five points, but he has one goal -- and that was in the first game of the playoffs. He was a 41-goal scorer in the regular season, but isn't one to create for himself and is finding the tighter checking style of the playoffs difficult. He has 14 goals in 43 career playoff games. Chris Kreider was moved up to the top line because of his struggles, and it remains to be seen what coach John Tortorella will do Wednesday. Don't be surprised to see a shift or two with the checking unit or fourth line if Tortorella believes that could get his game ignited. He's too good to sit the bench and play on the fourth line for long periods, but the playoffs are about winning and results, and he's not doing much of anything right now. The Blueshirts need their most skilled scorer to find his stride, or else their playoff lives could be short-lived.
Capitals rookie goalie Braden Holtby has stormed onto the scene in the playoffs and basically grabbed the No. 1 job for good, but the Rangers didn't get enough bodies in front in Game 2, making his job easier. There were also a number of rebounds, but new York had nobody in front to bang home the rebound.
The power play showed signs of life, going 1-for-3, and Michael Del Zotto seems to have found his game, as he hit two posts and finished with two assists. It's the most assertive on offense he's been in quite some time, and that bodes well for the power play moving forward.
The Rangers have been so good with paying attention to the details of their game this season, but Stu Bickel's ill-advised pass in the offensive zone and Henrik Lundqvist' uncharacteristically playing the puck behind his net led to two goals and an immediate two-goal deficit.
If the New York cleans out those types of plays, stays out of the penalty box (unlike what it did after tying it in Game2) and carry on the effort put forth in Game 2, then it should be in good shape to take the series lead.
Wednesday, May 2, 2012, 7:30 PM EDT