Stanley Cup Journal: Capitals’ goal: Just score first

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New York: Sit on the lead. Washington: Add to the lead.

“The games they’ve been ahead, they contract and don’t have to worry about scoring chances,” defenseman Brian Pothier said.

Added Backstrom: “We push more, and that makes it hard for them to create something.”

Where the Caps have hurt themselves is altering their style of play when behind. Apprehension sets in, guys try to play a one-man game and, next thing they know, it’s the third period and the score is still 2-0 Rangers.

“You can squeeze the sticks a little bit, but guys might stray away from the system,” wing Eric Fehr said. “We have a game plan, and as soon as we get down, it seems we change; throw that out the window, and we’re doing our own thing. That’s definitely not what we should do.”

Added Pothier: “When you’re down 1-0, you know you have a deficit and have to dig yourself out of the hole. And a lot of times, you’re pressing and shooting when you normally wouldn’t or passing when you would normally shoot. You almost push too hard to try and create instead of letting the game happen.”

The Caps, though, stayed on point in Games 3 and 5.

“That’s important for us,” Fehr said. “The way we played to get the 2-0 lead, that’s when we’re at our best - playing tight defense that gives us offensive chances.”

The first period of Game 6 will be critical. The Garden is sure to be buzzing, and if the Caps can survive with a tie or go ahead 1-0, the mood in the arena will change dramatically.

If the Rangers strike first, the Caps’ response will determine whether their season is over or will continue Tuesday with a winner-take-all seventh game.

“It’s always good to get momentum because both teams are playing pretty good defense,” Backstrom said. “That’s something we have to work on if they score the first goal [Sunday].”

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