What it means: With Wednesday night's 4-3 win over the Washington Capitals, the New York Rangers have taken two straight at home to even the series 2-2. After letting a two-goal lead go to waste earlier in the game, the Rangers were able to hold off a threatening Capitals team in the third period. Karl Alzner's deflected shot pulled Washington within a goal in the final frame, but the Rangers held on to rattle off their second straight victory at Madison Square Garden.
Breakout series for Brassard: With a goal and five points in the past two games, center Derick Brassard has elevated his game. The 25-year-old pivot, acquired in a trade with Columbus at the deadline, made a brilliant cross-ice feed to set up Carl Hagelin in the second period and a deft backhanded pass to find defenseman Dan Girardi for his slap shot from the left point 59 seconds into the third.
Tie game: The Rangers saw a 2-0 lead dissolve in the second period, when the Capitals tallied a pair to knot the score heading into intermission. Mathieu Perreault silenced the crowd by banging home Joel Ward's rebound at the right post to cut the Rangers' lead in half at 13:08. The Caps seemed to gain some life after that, with some long shifts of sustained pressure in the offensive zone. Troy Brouwer scored his first goal of the playoffs, backhanding the puck past Henrik Lundqvist to knot the score with less than 18 seconds remaining in the frame.
Wild play: For as much as Braden Holtby’s puck handling is discussed, it led to the first goal of the game Wednesday. Holtby had his clearing attempt batted out of the air by New York’s Taylor Pyatt late in the opening period; the 23-year-old goaltender scrambled back toward the net, but slid out of position, forcing Caps defenseman John Carlson to block the Rangers’ first attempt on an open net. Brad Richards then put back the rebound for a 1-0 lead with 3:35 to play in the period.
Staal out: Marc Staal returned in Game 3 on Monday after missing two months with an eye injury, but did not play Wednesday. It was not immediately clear whether the 26-year-old defenseman suffered a setback, though Staal did allude to some issues with his eye that had cropped up in the week prior to his return. Steve Eminger replaced him in the lineup.
Erat out: Caps winger Martin Erat was forced from the game with an injury to his left arm//wrist in the first period. Erat landed hard in the Capitals net after a short-handed rush by Derek Stepan ended in a collision between the two players and Alex Ovechkin. Erat did not return to the game.
Back in action: Ryane Clowe returned to the Rangers' lineup after missing four games with what is believed to have been a concussion.
Up Next: Rangers at Capitals, Friday at 7:30 p.m.