WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 2: Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers protects the goal during Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Washington Capitals on May 2, 2012 at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/NHLI via Getty Images)

NHL on NBC: Rangers, Caps continue battle after 3OT marathon

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After their 114:41 minute game on Wednesday, the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals were probably grateful for a couple days off. However, on Saturday (12:30 pm ET, NBC) their series will resume with Game 4.

For the Washington Capitals, this game will be about putting the devastating setback behind them and erasing the Rangers’ one-game edge. This will also be the latest in a long series of big tests for Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby, who successfully bounced back from two overtime losses in the first round. In fact, Holtby hasn’t lost back-to-back games so far in the 2012 playoffs.

“What really impresses me most about him in the playoffs is his resiliency,” Former Washington goaltender Olie Kolzig said. “Whether he gives up a bad goal or has a bad game, he’ll come back and make that next big save or he’ll come back and win the next game.”

Of course, Holtby can’t win this series by himself. Other Capitals need to step up too, like Alex Ovechkin did in Game 2. Ovechkin couldn’t find the back of the net on Wednesday, but he did record nine hits in 35:14 minutes of ice time. Capitals coach Dale Hunter has typically used Ovechkin conservatively, but after his work in Games 2 and 3, he might get big minutes on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the Rangers have an opportunity to take a commanding lead in the series by winning another game in Washington. All eyes will be on Marian Gaborik, who snapped an eight-game goal scoring drought on Wednesday with his triple-overtime winner. If he can turn that goal into the start of a hot streak, then it will be very hard to contain the Rangers.

Ryan McDonagh will be another New York player to watch. Even after two days off, how will he respond after logging an incredible 53:17 minutes on Wednesday?

Game 3 was important and dramatic, but the bigger test for both teams will be to put that marathon game behind them and focus solely on Saturday’s contest.

Game 4 Notes:

— Washington and New York are still the top two playoff teams when it comes to blocked shots.
— New York’s Stu Bickel logged just 3:24 minutes in the triple-overtime contest.
— The Rangers and Capitals are both 3-0 when leading after 40 minutes.
— Henrik Lundqvist has been arguably the best goaltender of the playoffs with a 1.55 GAA and .944 save percentage in 10 starts.

Panthers lament slow start versus Sens, as debate over controversial Gallant firing continues

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 20:  Keith Yandle #3 of the Florida Panthers skates against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on November 20, 2016 in New York City. The Panthers defeated the Rangers 3-2 in the shootout.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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It’s been one week since the shocking and controversial firing of Gerard Gallant. The decision made by the Florida Panthers continues to be a hot topic of debate.

Don Cherry weighed in on it Saturday. As you might expect, he wasn’t in favor of the decision. Meanwhile, the Panthers lost 2-0 to the Ottawa Senators in a game that completely swung in favor of the hosts in the span of just 19 seconds.

Erik Karlsson and Derick Brassard scored early in the first period, giving Ottawa a two-goal lead and that was the only scoring of the evening.

On taking over from Gallant, interim coach Tom Rowe said, per the Sun Sentinel: “This isn’t a knock on Gerard, because he did a great job.

“I just thought some guys weren’t bringing it the way they’re capable of bringing it every single night. A little too much inconsistency. They’d come out one period and play great. Another period they just sit back a little bit too tentative.”

That second paragraph is interesting.

Against the Senators, the Panthers had a slow start, illustrated by their 19-second lapse leading to the Ottawa goals. The Panthers found their game in the second period but tested Mike Condon with only 24 shots on goal by the end of the night.

They also couldn’t capitalize on a five-on-three power play in the second period.

“It’s a tough one to swallow,” said Keith Yandle, per the Miami Herald. “They had a good start, and sometimes you have to weather the storm throughout courses of games, and they did a good job in the first 10 or 12 minutes. If you look at the second period we were better.”

There were anxious moments for the Panthers, as defenseman Aaron Ekblad took a puck to the face in the second period. He missed about two minutes of game time, but did require stitches, according to Rowe.

Avs’ D-man Johnson suffers broken fibula, out six to eight weeks

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 11:  Erik Johnson #6 of the Colorado Avalanche in action against the Winnipeg Jets at Pepsi Center on November 11, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
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Another loss for the Colorado Avalanche, but the news following this latest defeat is much worse.

Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson has suffered a broken fibula and is out six to eight weeks, the team announced following Saturday’s 3-0 loss to the Dallas Stars.

Johnson left the game because of the injury and didn’t return.

This development occurred later in the same day the team’s captain Gabriel Landeskog skated briefly with his teammates, leading to the possibility that he may travel with the Avs on their upcoming road trip.

It’s obviously devastating news for Colorado, which recently had its effort ripped by coach Jared Bednar. Issues with consistency and work ethic have been around since Patrick Roy was in charge.

The Avalanche have struggled since the beginning of the season after a late-summer coaching change, but they now occupy last place in the Western Conference with five straight losses.

Johnson has 11 points, which ties him with Tyson Barrie for the team lead among defenseman in that category.

In addition to playing 22 minutes a night, which is a substantial loss because he plays on both the penalty kill and power play, he’s also one of only two blue liners with the Avalanche to have even-strength puck possession numbers greater than 50 per cent.

The difficult times for the Avalanche continue.

Video: Caggiula (finally) scores his first NHL goal

EDMONTON, AB - SEPTEMBER 26:  Drake Caggiula #36 of the Edmonton Oilers skates against the Calgary Flames on September 26, 2016 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
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Drake Caggiula had to wait to make his NHL debut because of a hip injury suffered in pre-season. He had to wait even longer for his first NHL goal.

On Saturday, the wait for the latter ended.

Playing in just his eighth career NHL game, the North Dakota product and NCAA Frozen Four MOP — pursued by at least half a dozen teams as a college free agent — ripped home a wrist shot from the slot on the power play for career goal No. 1 in the big league.

That goal gave Edmonton a 1-0 lead over the visiting Anaheim Ducks.

Trotz wasn’t happy with Capitals top line for penalty trouble versus Lightning

NASHVILLE, TN - JANUARY 29:  Head Coach Barry Trotz of the Washington Capitals speaks during Media Day for the 2016 NHL All-Star Game at Bridgestone Arena on January 29, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Naturally, Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz would prefer his top line, which includes star Alex Ovechkin, score goals instead of glide to the penalty box.

On Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Ovechkin took two minor penalties, while Nicklas Backstrom had another.

Tampa Bay’s power play struck once in three opportunities, as the Lightning prevailed 2-1 in the shootout.

The Capitals did manage to score — a power play goal from Backstrom — to end their recent goal drought. But the issue of penalties — Ovechkin has a team-leading 10 minor penalties — is something Trotz plans to address.

“I wasn’t happy with that. Our top line took three of the penalties today. They needed to score a power play for us,” he told reporters. “They’ve got to stay out of the box. I need them on the ice. So yeah, we’ll talk about it for sure.”

The Capitals have now lost three in a row.

They sit in the first Wild Card spot in the East, alongside the Lightning, while the Philadelphia Flyers are right there, too.

“From my standpoint, we’ll take a good point on the road. Obviously we’re disappointed we didn’t get two. But the effort and the mindset was correct,” said Trotz.

“When you’re not winning, it doesn’t do anything for your confidence.”