Caps Game Night – 7:30 p.m. at Rangers (Game 3)

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Loose Pucks,Sports,Brian McNally

EASTERN CONFERENCE QUARTERFINALS

Capitals (2) vs. New York Rangers (0)

Game » 3

When » Monday, May 6

Where » Verizon Center

TV » Comcast SportsNet HD

Radio » WJFK-FM 106.7; WFED-AM 1500

Stanley Cup playoff series are all about momentum. One team usually has it and the other team is desperate to snatch it back. This is assuming the two sides are relatively equal, of course, which so far the Capitals and Rangers have been. Washington may be ahead 2-0 in this Eastern Conference quarterfinal series, but the Rangers aren’t conceding anything yet as the two teams prepare for Game 3 tonight at Madison Square Garden.

“Well, I’m not going to get into dissecting things,” the always terse New York coach John Tortorella said during his brief chat with reporters on Monday morning. “I think we’re close, I’ll put it to you that way. But it means squat if you don’t win.”

Tortorella brought up Rick Nash hitting the post late in Game 2 – and eventual 1-0 Caps overtime victory. Those little things add up over 60 minutes of hockey and during a best-of-seven playoff series.

“And it doesn’t have to be offensive plays,” Tortorella said. “It could be a block, it could be a penalty kill. Absolutely. Just to try to gain momentum back on your side.”

Washington coach Adam Oates didn’t exactly want to be drawn into a debate on the topic. He addressed it anyway.

“Doesn’t matter,” Oates said when asked about Tortorella’s comments. “It’s 2-0 so I don’t know how that’s even. Both games were good games. Maybe he means by that and it could’ve gone either way. The margin of error was very small. I would agree with that.”

No lineup changes expected for the Caps, who used the same forward and defensive combinations at the morning skate at MSG on Monday. There’s no real reason to change at this point. A loose group was put through its paces by the coaching staff for about 25 minutes. There is fine line there, however.

“It’s good to a point. I’m not sure we want it as loose as this morning,” Washington goalie Braden Holtby said. “It’s still playoff time and you never want to get comfortable. When you’re starting to get loose, you can tell guys are starting to get comfortable and whatnot. We’re going to make sure in pre-game meeting that everyone is focusing in, making sure that we’re doing the right things to prepare, as if we’re down 0-2.”

Here are the forward combinations and defensive pairings for tonight:

Johansson-Backstrom-Ovechkin

Erat-Ribeiro-Brouwer

Chimera-Perreault-Fehr

Hendricks-Beagle-Ward

Alzner-Green

Erskine-Carlson

Hillen-Oleksy

Follow me on Twitter @bmcnally14

 

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