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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Blueshirts quietly confident at home

Looking to send series back to D.C. for Game 7

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NEW YORK -- Forgive the New York Rangers if they have a quiet confidence heading into a must-win game against the Washington Capitals.

No, they aren't too young to understand nor are they loaded with post-season experience. But what they do have seems to be serving them well, at least so far.

The Rangers will host Game 6 of their first-round series against the Washington Capitals today, and they will need to win to force a deciding contest in the nation's capital on Monday.

Through five games, the home team has come out on top in each -- including New York's two wins at Madison Square Garden in Games 3 and 4 to erase an 0-2 series deficit.

Washington went back ahead 3-2 on Friday by beating the Rangers 2-1 in overtime -- the Capitals' second extra-time win in the series.

"I think the electricity in the building can sometimes get you through moments where maybe you're sluggish," Capitals coach Adam Oates said Saturday of the benefits of home ice. "It's your own confines. You just feel good in your own building.

"They're going to be more desperate, but that can't affect the decisions. We've still got to play the way we play."

The Rangers have a bit of recent history to draw upon, as well, as they came back last year from a 3-2 hole in the first round against the Ottawa Senators -- winning Game 6 on the road and completing the rally at home in Game 7 -- when they were the No. 1 seed in the East.

New York also avoided elimination with a Game 7 win versus Washington in the second round. So although this situation is hardly ideal, it isn't unfamiliar or particularly daunting.

"You try to just enjoy it," said Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who shook off Friday's disappointment in time for a brief team practice Saturday. "I'm definitely not thinking it could be over. That doesn't help your game.

"You go out and focus. I always go and focus on certain things when I play. I try to enjoy the moment. It's a big game for us, everybody knows that, but so far we've been doing pretty good at home."

That goes for both teams.

The Capitals are bolstered by the knowledge that if the series is extended to a Game 7, they have 10 wins over the Rangers in their last 11 playoff home games and five straight.

"Every little play matters. Every play was magnified," defenceman Michael Del Zotto said of last year's Game 6 against Ottawa. "You just feel so into the game, so alive. It was a big confidence boost for our club. Hopefully we'll get confidence out of our next game."

The Capitals practised at their rink on Saturday before heading back to New York.

"You never want to take longer than you need to. It just eliminates the rest that you can get further on," Capitals forward Troy Brouwer said. "You give the other team life, thinking that they're able to come back in the series.

"You've got to have that killer instinct."

This one has been tight throughout as every game -- except for Washington's 3-1 win in the opener -- has been decided by one goal.

"The atmosphere is unbelievable," Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin said Saturday of playing at Madison Square Garden. "We just have to control our emotions and don't take lots of penalties because we give them chances when they play 5-on-4.

"We just have to be disciplined and stay the same way."

A penalty turned the tide in Game 5. New York forward Brian Boyle was called for a retaliation penalty in the second period as the Rangers were protecting a 1-0 lead.

The Capitals' potent power play took advantage to tie it. It stayed even until Mike Ribeiro won it at 9:24 of overtime with his first goal of the series.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 12, 2013 B3

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