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That system Oates instilled that was credited with stabilizing the team’s performance wasn’t able to withstand adjustments the Rangers made. Even if New York wasn’t the better team for seven games, it became the better one as the series wore on.

“We knew what we had to do, and they just did such a good job of covering up their weaknesses, their holes,” defenseman Karl Alzner said. “That’s a tough thing, a tough pill to swallow when you know how to beat a team, but you can’t quite get it.”

The Rangers showed that in Game 7. Even if they didn’t control the play from the drop of the puck, they took advantage of crucial opportunities and put on an impressive show.

Star of the series Henrik Lundqvist made 35 saves and kept the Caps off the board for the second straight game.

“They block shots and when they didn’t block shots, he was there to make saves,” right wing Troy Brouwer said. “He won that series for them, in my eyes.”

Going into Monday night, history favored the Caps. The Rangers had never won a Game 7 on the road in five chances in franchise history and had lost 10 of their previous 11 postseason games at Verizon Center.

In this series, the home team won each of the first six games. The Caps figured Game 7 experience and being at home gave them an edge.

Instead, they played out the final minutes in almost silence.

“We still want to play hard for the fans that were still here, we still wanted to show that we weren’t going to give up and it doesn’t matter what the score was,” Brouwer said. “It’s a shame that it ended up the way that it did.

The Rangers were a different team Monday night than any other game in this series and didn’t have to win another close game. They skated the Caps out of the building, most lopsided playoff loss for this core group and worst in franchise history since 2000.

“Things that happen during series that just seem for whatever reason at the wrong time happen to us, that’s no reflection of the guys in the dressing room or how bad we wanted it,” defenseman Mike Green said. “The heart and the depth of the guys throughout the lineup is not the reflection of how it should end.”