At a glance: Down 1-0 after a Capitals win on home ice Thursday, the Rangers look to even the series before returning home to Madison Square Garden for Games 3 and 4. Alex Ovechkin and Co. took control of the game early Thursday night and put steady pressure on Henrik Lundqvist en route to a 3-1 win at a raucous Verizon Center. The Blueshirts must win the territorial battle with a strong start Saturday if they want to neutralize the crowd and make 23-year-old Caps netminder Braden Holtby sweat. They say a series doesn’t start until a team wins a game on the road; the Rangers aim to make that happen Saturday.
On the mend: Rangers forward Ryane Clowe skated Friday for the first time since being sidelined with an undisclosed injury (believed to be a concussion) last week and said he may be available for Game 2. “I’m not ruling myself out for [Saturday],” Clowe said, adding that conditioning would not be a determining factor in his return. To that end, coach John Tortorella confirmed that the team won’t hesitate in getting healthy players back into the lineup. “If I think a player will help us, he will play,” he said. Forwards Brian Boyle, Derek Dorsett and defenseman Marc Staal all practiced on Friday as well and could return to the lineup during this series.
Out of the box: A major point of emphasis heading into Game 2 for the Rangers will be staying disciplined against the Capitals and their top-ranked power-play. Despite a strong penalty-killing effort to start Game 1, the Rangers eventually got burned after giving the Capitals their fourth man-up opportunity of the game. The Rangers took six penalties in total on Thursday, including a bench minor for too many men on the ice just 34 seconds into play.
Watch out for this guy: Capitals veteran forward Jason Chimera seems to have an uncanny knack for scoring come playoff time, and he’s been a nightmare for the Rangers over the past few years. Chimera notched his eighth career playoff goal; six of those have come against the Rangers.
Not a bad debut: Capitals defenseman Steve Oleksy had a terrific NHL playoffs debut. The 27-year-old blue-liner, called up from the minors in March, executed a perfect tape-to-tape pass for Marcus Johansson’s seamless go-ahead goal Thursday. Oleksy also took a puck to the face later in the game, but returned to the ice after some quick repairs.