The Rangers witnessed something rare in Game 2 -- a Washington Capitals team that did not center around superstar Alex Ovechkin.
Caps coach Dale Hunter limited No. 8 to a mere 13:36 of ice time -- in contrast, defensive-minded Jay Beagle led all forwards with 19:58 -- and in doing so elicited a positive response from his charge.
The 26-year-old tallied the game-winning goal in the third to boost the Caps to a 3-2 win at Madison Square Garden. Did seeing Ovechkin used in such a restricted role change anything for the Rangers?
Defenseman Dan Girardi, who comprises half of the team's shutdown pair with partner Ryan McDonagh, saw his minutes decrease in correlation with Ovechkin's. Girardi played only 20:35, the least he has played in the playoffs by more than four minutes.
“He didn’t play a lot, but I think that’s the matchup we’re trying to get," Girardi said Tuesday. "That’s just how it worked out.”
Regardless of how Hunter and the Capitals choose to employ their most potent offensive threat will have little bearing on how the Rangers approach Game 3, players said.
"No, I don't really care either, honestly," goaltender Henrik Lundqvist told reporters. "I focus on my game and what we have to do. If he plays 20 or 10 or 5 or 30, I don't really care."
Said veteran winger Ruslan Fedotenko: "Whatever they want to do or their coach wanted to do, nothing surprises me in the playoffs. I've seen weirder things ... it's up to them. We know what we need to do, focus on our end of the bargain and that's what we're ready for."