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Apr 27, 2024 5:25 pm

Capitals face long odds in 3-0 deficit vs. Rangers

New York Rangers

Trailing 3-0, the Washington Capitals face long odds to win their Eastern Conference first-round series with the New York Rangers.

Only four NHL teams have won a best-of-seven series when in that deep of a deficit.

Even so, the Capitals are hoping to take step one in a miracle journey when they play host to the Rangers on Sunday.

“We have a game plan that we’re trying to do,” Washington forward Hendrix Lapierre said. “Obviously, right now, we’re not getting the results we want, but we’re trusting the process, trusting that everybody is going to do a job. We’ve got a long way ahead of us, but we’ll start with (Sunday) and work our way back.”

The Capitals will be without defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk after he was on the receiving end of a hellacious check from Matt Rempe in Friday’s 3-1 Rangers victory, for which the New York forward received an interference penalty. Washington has a trio of other blue-liners out due to injury in Rasmus Sandin, Nick Jensen and Vincent Iorio. That said, Sandin and Jensen took part in Saturday’s practice.

“They’ve been out so long now that it’s just if they’re able to go (Sunday), great, and we’ll get them right back in there,” coach Spencer Carbery said.

And while Washington may want to exact revenge on Rempe, they have far more important issues to address. The Capitals have opened the scoring the last two games, and over the series surrendered as many short-handed goals — two — as power-play goals that they have scored. It does not help that captain Alex Ovechkin has no points.

“Guys understand the messaging of the same way it’s been for multiple months is for us finding a way to win one game, and being energized and excited about that,” Carbery said. “We’re not gonna pretend to not understand the situation or scenario without there being a tomorrow, but I also know this group and learned that in these situations.”

The Rangers last won a series via sweep in 2007 when they brushed aside the Atlanta Thrashers, who are now the Winnipeg Jets.

New York’s odds of advancing to the next round are high, even without a four-game sweep, considering how well the Rangers are playing. Pick a part of their game, and the machine is working.

If there can be any quibbling, both forward Artemi Panarin and defenseman Adam Fox have been held to a single point in the first three games. Fortunately, the likes of Vincent Trocheck, who as netted two goals and five points in three games, have stepped forward.

Winning the special teams battle has also been huge. Going back to the regular season, the Rangers have been prolific on the power play and the penalty kill. In fact, they have scored four short-handed goals in the past five outings.

“We like to play aggressively and we’re always on our toes, not sitting back on our heels,” forward Barclay Goodrow said. “It seems as of late we’ve gotten a lot of chances and, obviously, that’s a bonus.”

Plus, the Rangers have had the ultimate difference maker so far in the series in goaltender Igor Shesterkin, who delivered a 28-save performance in Friday’s victory, which included 14 stops in the third period.

“There wasn’t a lot of volume, there weren’t a lot of chances, but there were a couple of big chances and the ones that go across the crease and they happen really quick, he had to be really sharp,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “You could tell that he was on point, he saw everything that was happening. It wasn’t volume but there were a couple of big ones.”

–Field Level Media

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