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Capitals offense goes quiet, so series with Rangers goes to Game 7

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Sports,NHL,Capitals,Brian McNally

Lundqvist shuts out Caps in Game 6 in MSG

NEW YORK -- It seemed destined to happen again. Four times in the past five years, the Capitals have played the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup playoffs. For the third time, they will go the distance.

Derick Brassard's second-period goal deflected off Capitals defenseman Steve Oleksy and past goalie Braden Holtby. That was all Rangers star goalie Henrik Lundqvist needed in a 1-0 shutout of the Caps at Madison Square Garden on Sunday.

And so New York, which was down 3-2 in this best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal, survived to play another day by tying the series at 3-3. The decisive Game 7 will be played at 8 p.m. on Monday night at Verizon Center in Washington. The winner advances to the second round. The loser's season will come to a bitter end.

"I kind of thought that right from the beginning of the series, that it was going to be a long one," Caps defenseman Karl Alzner said. "The fact that we went up 2-0, I thought that was great, but I knew that wasn't the case. Game 7 against this team is kind of normal now, so we're ready for it."

Washington won a Game 7 between the two clubs at Verizon Center in 2009. The Rangers eliminated the Caps 366 days ago in New York. The final score of both games? 2-1. The only series that didn't go the distance was in 2011, when Washington advanced in five games.

The Rangers broke the scoreless tie at 9:39 of the second period. Brassard's point shot just inside the blueline clicked off Oleksy's glove and deflected past Holtby. A nervous home crowd finally had reason to cheer.

"I saw it the whole way," Holtby said. "It's just one of those things, it happens to go off [Oleksy]. It just happens."

Prior to that, New York's frustrating power play continued to struggle. It was 0-for-5 overall and for the third time in the series had a 5-on-3 power play fail. That came after an elbow penalty committed by Caps forward Eric Fehr. Alzner was already in the penalty box for a delay-of-game.

But the Rangers didn't manage a shot on goal during the 44 seconds it was up two men and eventually Washington killed both penalties to keep the game scoreless. Later, it also killed off a Joel Ward cross-checking penalty in the third period to keep the deficit at 1-0.

But those penalties took their toll and led to some obvious frustration. Defenseman Mike Green felt he was slew-footed by New York forward Derek Dorsett with 6:14 left in the game and retaliated with a cross-check. That one was detected and the Caps wasted valuable energy late in the game killing yet another penalty. Washington did not draw a penalty of their own -- the first time that's happened in a game since March 13, 2012, against the New York Islanders.

"We took penalties. We deserved some, we didn't deserve some," Caps forward Troy Brouwer said. "I can't believe that they didn't get a penalty tonight. Seems a little bit outlandish, but that's how it goes. That's how the series has kind of gone on. We're not helping ourselves, either."

And while the Rangers were 0-for-5 with the man-advantage Sunday and are a woeful 2-for-26 in the series so far, those taxing penalty kills have other negative effects.

"Any time our top guys aren't getting the opportunity five-on-five, it's hurting our team," forward Matt Hendricks said. "I think energy guys are spending their energy on the penalty kill instead of the energy on the forecheck and maybe drawing penalties that way. So I think it definitely takes away from our game a lot."

bmcnally@washingtonexaminer.com

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