- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Capitals insist there’s no reason for concern. They aren’t panicking about one loss to the New York Rangers or losing momentum in the first-round series.

“We did take [eight] minors,” coach Bruce Boudreau said of Game 3. “They’re close games. We’re trying to look at minuscule things that are the reasons for winning and losing.”

Washington’s players and Boudreau sound supremely confident that they haven’t lost any momentum going into Wednesday night’s Game 4 and therefore don’t need to make wholesale changes. But on offense, there’s something lacking that could ultimately be a much bigger problem moving forward than one game with a series of bad penalties.

The Caps have scored the fewest goals per game (2.00) of any team currently leading its best-of-seven series. But just like with everything else, they’re not expressing concern about that - in public, anyway.

“No, I’m not worried at all. We haven’t scored and anything, but it’s been tight games and you don’t get many goals,” center Marcus Johansson said Tuesday. “They haven’t scored many goals, either.”

With good goaltending from Michal Neuvirth and the same commitment to defense that has been prevalent the second half of the season, the Caps have contained New York’s offense so far. But it’s unlikely that players such as Derek Stepan and Marian Gaborik will be held without a goal for as long as this series goes on.

So it’s up to the Caps to turn up the pressure on goalie Henrik Lundqvist and a tough Rangers defense.

“It’s hard to get to him, it’s hard to get shots on net,” center Jason Arnott said. “I think we just got to get more shots when we can - try not to make that pretty play when it’s there and crash the net as much as we can.”

The Caps have averaged over 27 shots a game, but many in Game 3 were easy for Lundqvist, who’s known for his ability to stop pretty much everything he sees.

“You can’t just shoot it and there’s no one there. You got to get people [in front of Lundqvist], too,” Johansson said. “Sometimes we’re doing it really good, and we have to do it all the time.”

Getting a consistent attack going is something forward Marco Sturm pointed out as well - the need to forecheck and throw pucks at the net for 60 minutes.

But a bigger deal may be production from the Caps’ stars. Alex Ovechkin has two goals and two assists, though Mike Knuble (who missed practice Tuesday for a “maintenance day”) and Nicklas Backstrom have combined for just two points.

Ovechkin said with the way the Rangers are playing defensively it’s hard to break out offensively, but everyone around the Caps knows they’ll have trouble if their big guns don’t step up.

“They’re doing a pretty good job of checking them, but … I don’t think you ever win anything without your best players being your best players,” Boudreau said. “Your star players are your star players. They got to be the ones that get it done.”

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