GREENBURGH, N.Y. (AP) — Putting a brutal, last-second loss to the Washington Capitals in the opening game of the Eastern Conference semifinals behind them isn’t something the New York Rangers are worried about.
Playoff hockey is all about short-term memory. You win, you forget about it. You lose, you forget about it faster.
Players remember the mistakes and the need to correct them.
That’s the approach the Rangers are taking heading into Game 2 of their best-of-seven series with Alexander Ovechkin and Capitals on Saturday afternoon (12:30 p.m. EDT) at Madison Square Garden.
They’ve stopped thinking about Joel Ward’s game-winning goal with 1.3 seconds to play on Thursday night in Washington’s 2-1 win and the questionable hit by Nicklas Backstrom on defenseman Dan Boyle that set up the goal. They’re not talking about the lack of a penalty call on the play.
The focus is evening the series at 1-all, or in Washington’s case, taking a 2-0 lead home for Monday night’s Game 3.
“You wake up the next day and go to work,” Rangers forward Martin St. Louis said Friday after a short 20-minute practice in the team’s Westchester training facility. “You correct the mistakes and get ready for the next one.”
The Capitals, who got a goal and an assist from Ovechkin, did not practice on Friday.
“He’s working hard and doing the right things,” Capitals forward Troy Brouwer said of ‘Ovi’ at the team’s hotel. “It sparked our team. We as players want to play behind him, play with him and win because over the years he’s had a little bit of a reputation of not being able to push his team deep into the playoffs. We want to change that for him this year.”
This marks the first time the Rangers, the NHL’s best team in the regular season, have been behind in the playoffs this season. They beat Pittsburgh in five games in the opening round.
“You don’t want to dig too deep into it,” center Derek Stepan said of the need to win. “It’s a loss Game 1 and we have to come out and get ourselves ready and give us at least a good chance to win Game 2.”
Boyle, who was dazed by Backstrom’s hit, practiced on Friday. He refused to discuss his thoughts on the hit.
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault also refused to say anything about the referees. He said his team needs to learn from the play, and the most important thing is not to stop playing. The Rangers hesitated after Boyle was hit. The Capitals didn’t stop and scored the winning goal.
Capitals coach Barry Trotz watched a videotape of the Backstrom hit and saw nothing wrong with it.
“If you really watch it again, even the people right in front (of the glass), they didn’t flinch,” he said. “Usually if it is a questionable hit, everybody jumps up and puts their hands up and all that. The fans right there, nothing. It really was nothing. It was the right call.”
The NHL reviewed the hit on Friday and did not take any action.
Vigneault wants his team has to play better against the Ovechkin line in Game 2 and to capitalize on scoring chances. New York has scored one goal in regulations in each of its last three playoffs games and that’s not good enough.
Calgary at Anaheim, Anaheim leads series 1-0, Game 2, Sunday 10 p.m. EDT.
FLYING DUCKS: after sweeping Winnipeg, the Ducks rolled to a 6-1 win in Game 1 on Thursday, chasing former teammate Jonas Hiller to the bench in the second period.
It also extended the Flames’ futility at the Honda Center, where Calgary hasn’t won since the 2006 playoffs and has lost 20 consecutive regular-season games since January 2004.
AP freelance writer Denis Gorman contributed to this report.
Tom Canavan can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/APTCan
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