Continued from page 1

“We know the third win is probably the most important win,” Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin said. “For them, it’s going to be a very important game. For us, the same. Every game with us is important, you (can’t) relax.”

The Rangers returned home from Washington in the early hours Saturday after a train ride from the nation’s capital. They were on the ice for about 30 minutes in the afternoon and claimed to be ready to hit the Garden ice with a chance to get back in the series in front of their fans.

“They’re going to come out with a very strong effort, use the momentum, the energy of the crowd,” Capitals forward Mike Knuble said. “It will be absolutely crazy in there the first five, 10 minutes. It will be up to us to be as equally stingy and maybe try and take some of the momentum back by making them play in their own end.

“Ultimately you haven’t accomplished anything. You’ve gotten a lead in this series, but nothing is settled, it’s still up for grabs. They still have three home games possibly.”

With a young roster that features many first-time participants in the Stanley Cup playoffs, Rangers captain Chris Drury took it upon himself to remind his teammates that nothing is lost yet. There is no time or place for doubt or frustration.

“We already talked about that this morning,” Drury said, “one game and momentum shifts in a playoff series. They’re the number one seed, they have a ton of talent up front, on the back end, in net. They did their job at home, now it’s up to us to respond in the proper way and take care of things in our building.

“In Game 2 we played a better game, we played harder. We know we’re going to have to continue to grind it out. It would certainly be nice to get one early for our fans.”

Rangers coach John Tortorella hinted he might shake up the lines and shift players on the power play that has failed on 30 of 31 chances, dating to the final nine games of the regular season.

New York has had only four power-play opportunities _ two in each game _ and will need special teams to provide a surge that has been missing. Even if the unit doesn’t score, it has to at least give the club a lift.

“Let’s face it, it’s not working, and we’re going to try some different things,” Tortorella said. “Your power play is always a little microcosm of what your offense is. We’re struggling there. It can create momentum for you or hurt you.”