Green feels Caps are more comfortable in one-goal games

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The first three games of the New York Rangers and Capitals’ second round series have been determined by one goal and Washington has won two of those contests. Since the playoffs began, Washington is 5-2 in one-goal games, putting them ahead of every team but the Chicago Blackhawks (5-0) in that regard.

The ability to win close contests can be vital in the playoffs and Washington’s success in this area is in contrast to its playoff runs from 2008-13 when it posted a combined 18-22 record in one-goal games.

“The pressure definitely gains during the games when it’s only one goal. Every mistake or mishap can go in the back of your net. And you obviously don’t want to think that way, but the pressure’s there,” Capitals defenseman Mike Green noted, per the Associated Press.

“But I think we’ve done a good job of handling it, really. You don’t really feel that panic out on the ice or on the bench that maybe in recent years you felt.”

Green thinks there could be a lot of different reasons for that, including maturity and experience, but it could also be the influence of new Capitals coach Barry Trotz. Rangers forward Martin St. Louis has noticed a change in them.

“They play a heavier game, probably, now. They probably get pucks in deep a little more. They’re allowed to sustain offensive zone time. It’s a team that’s good off the rush and heavy down low,” St. Louis said.

Even still, Washington’s edge over the Rangers has been thin thus far. New York has an opportunity to even the series tonight (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

Here’s your Stanley Cup playoff TV schedule for tonight

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A quick look at what games will be on what channels in tonight’s Stanley Cup playoff action …

Canadiens at Lightning, 7:00 p.m. ET on USA

Montreal is down 2-0 in its second round series after also losing all five of its regular season games against Tampa Bay. The Canadiens just can’t seem to figure the Lightning out and time isn’t on their side. It certainly doesn’t help Montreal that Steven Stamkos ended his postseason goal scoring drought in Game 2. Given what Tampa Bay accomplished while he was struggling, the squad should be very dangerous if he gets hot.

The silver lining for the Canadiens is that they will likely get David Desharnais back tonight. The 28-year-old forward had the flu and was hospitalized at one point to get re-hydrated. However, after initially staying behind when his teammates traveled to Tampa Bay, he was able to rejoin them on Tuesday. He’s been averaging 16:40 minutes per game in the playoffs, so Montreal had a significant hole to fill when he was absent for Game 2.

Rangers at Capitals, 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN

The first three games of this second round series have been decided by just one goal, so it’s fair to say that these squads have been evenly matched. In Game 3, the difference was a somewhat fluky marker by Washington’s Jay Beagle. That being said, Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby had the best game out of anyone with 30 saves to post the shutout. He now has a 1.54 GAA and .949 save percentage in the playoffs and is one of the main reasons Washington has its 2-1 series edge over the Rangers.

Netminder Henrik Lundqvist has been great too, but he hasn’t gotten much help from the Rangers’ top forwards. Rick Nash has just one goal in eight playoff contests while Martin St. Louis hasn’t found the back of the net in the 2015 postseason. If Nash and St. Louis don’t bounce back then the Rangers will have a lot of difficulty getting past Washington.

Columbus has picked its new captain, says Davidson

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Columbus has been without a captain since Rick Nash departed three years ago but, according to team president John Davidson, a Blue Jacket will have a “C” on his jersey this fall.

“We know who it’s going to be,” Davidson said, per Columbus Business First. “We’ll name a captain by the start of next season and that’s a step forward.

“He’s popped, he’s a person that’s carried himself with outstanding leadership.”

Per “informed speculation” from the Columbus Dispatch, Nick Foligno is the odds-on favorite to become captain (if there were odds on such a thing.) The 27-year-old is coming off a tremendous season in which he scored a career-best 73 points and was named a captain for the 2015 NHL All-Star Game — an event that Columbus hosted, and during which Foligno emerged as one of the faces of the franchise.

What’s more, Foligno will be with the Jackets for the long haul, having signed a six-year, $33 million extension in December.

Others in the mix, according to the Dispatch, include Boone Jenner, Scott Hartnell, Brandon Dubinsky and Jack Johnson — Ryan Johansen, interestingly enough, wasn’t among the “favorites” despite being arguably the team’s best player and biggest star. It’s possible his contentious holdout this past fall remains an issue; he’s also only 22 years old and has less than 300 games of NHL experience.

Rick Nash: ‘A bounce would be nice’

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By setting a new career-high with 42 goals in the regular season, it felt like New York Rangers winger Rick Nash redeemed himself after a tough 2014 postseason. That seemed true, at least, until the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs began.

Now it’s the same old story with Nash, as he’s been limited to one measly goal in eight playoff games so far.

The frustration seemed to hit a new level in Game 3 on Sunday, as he failed to find the net despite firing seven shots on goal. Remarkably, his 2015 postseason shooting percentage of 3.1 is now even lower than his startlingly bad career playoff percentage of 3.5.

Even those who scream about a perceived preponderance of peripheral shots have to admit that this is a bit ridiculous.

The 30-year-old admitted that he could use a little luck while discussing his frustrations with the New York Daily News.

“A bounce would be nice,” Nash said. “The ones that were going in early in the season aren’t there. Especially when your goalie gives you a chance to win, I definitely look at myself, and it’s frustrating.”

Nash is too familiar with the nature of the beast: fair or not, a star player’s struggles get magnified when his team isn’t scoring in the playoffs. It’s not just Nash who isn’t scoring for the Rangers, after all; New York is only generating 1.88 goals per game in the postseason after averaging more than three during the regular season. (Nash’s 42 goals accounted for about .5 goals per game, which is pretty remarkable.)

It’s not as if the Rangers have been awful, especially since their wins and losses have all been close. Much like Nash, the team’s puck luck hasn’t always been there.

It all seems quite frustrating for Nash and his team, yet he can look at Steven Stamkos in Tampa Bay and other examples of snipers breaking through. Then again, Nash’s struggles now extend to 49 career playoff games, so it’s also plausible that these frustrations won’t cease.

Holtby outduels Lundqvist as Caps take series lead

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For the third straight game, the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers were separated by just one goal. Thanks to a Jay Beagle’s marker, it was the Capitals that came out ahead 1-0 on Monday to take a 2-1 series lead.

This was truly a goaltending duel as even Beagle’s goal was the result of a shot that bounced off Rangers defenseman Keith Yandle’s skate right next to the line. It would have consequently been very difficult for Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist to stop it. In fact, Lundqvist has been great so far in the 2015 playoffs and the fact that the Rangers now find themselves trailing shouldn’t be put on his shoulders.

Rather than put too much blame on the Rangers in general, it seems appropriate to credit Capitals netminder Braden Holtby. The 25-year-old saved 30 shots to earn his first shutout of the playoffs. The Rangers had some good chances in this one, including this literally last minute attempt by Rick Nash:

Nash fired a team-high seven shots on goal, but is still stuck at just one goal in seven playoff games this year. Postseason woes are nothing new for him as he has six goals in 49 career playoff contests compared to 378 markers in 862 regular season games. His drought is particularly glaring considering that he found the back of the net a career-high 42 times in 2014-15.

The Rangers need to hope that he finds a way to solve Holtby in Game 4 because while their situation isn’t desperate yet, it wouldn’t take much for it to reach that level.