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Washington Capitals vs. New York Rangers

Eastern Conference Semifinals

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Caps drop Game 1 in New York

After knocking off the Boston Bruins in dramatic fashion in the first round of the 2012 NHL Playoffs, the Washington Capitals dropped the first game of its series against the Eastern Conference top-seeded New York Rangers Saturday in the Big Apple.

The blueshirts took Game 1 in a 3-1 snoozer on Broadway. Behind one goal and one assist from under-aged Chris Kreider and a two-goal-in-90-seconds run in the third period, the Rangers seized control of the game, and the series.

Chalk up the poor play to a hangover from the exhausting series against Boston, at least that's what Caps nation is doing. But whatever caused the Capitals to come out flat in the series opener, let's hope its out of their system before Monday night.

While the Capitals left a lot to be desired with their performance, let's remember, they did send three shots screaming off the post. If one of those pucks goes an inch the other way, we're talking about a different game.

But that didn't happen, and now the Caps are left in a 1-0 hole.

Nothing new to them. (see: Boston)

The Capitals will look to even up the series Monday in front of what will sure to be a hostile crowd at Madison Square Garden.

After a dismal performance Saturday, expect Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin to be ready to rock.

Wishful thinking? Perhaps. But the Great Eight just went scoreless in back-to-back playoff games for the first time in his career. And with the questions about his focus and intensity on the ice getting louder, expect Ovechkin to come out fuming in Game 2. That can't bode well for the Rangers and netminder Henrik Lundqvist.

Capitals coach Dale Hunter should be looking to shake up his lines to get his star freed up. Pairing up Ovechkin with center Nicklas Backstrom could do the trick. The two play in-sync with one another and could provide the spark the Capitals offense desperately needs.

Given that Ovechkin, Backstrom, Alexander Semin, Marcus Johansson and Brooks Laich can get the offensive going, Washington will need better goaltending from Braden Holtby than what the 22-year-old gave them in Game 1. (11 saves/.786 save percentage)

After out-classing two-time Vezina Trophy winner Tim Thomas in the Boston series, Holtby followed his coming-out performance by letting up three very saveable shots while facing just 14 from the Rangers offense Saturday. Holtby will have to find his round 1 form if the Capitals have any shot at heading back to D.C. with the series tied at one against the conference's top seed.

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