WASHINGTON -- Rangers coach John Tortorella tinkered with his lines during practice at Verizon Center on Thursday afternoon in the hopes of finding some much-needed offense.
The Rangers were held to one goal and 25 shots in nearly 80 minutes during a 2-1 overtime loss to the Capitals in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series on Wednesday night. Their only goal came from defenseman Matt Gilroy, who had just three during the regular season.
"We need to get more scoring chances," Tortorella said. "We'll figure it out."
One of the new lines at practice was Erik Christensen centering Vinny Prospal and Marian Gaborik, a sign that Tortorella would like to jump-start the beleaguered Gaborik, who hasn't scored in 10 games going back to the regular season.
"Certainly, I'm not putting Erik in there for defensive purposes," Tortorella said. "I think we need to create some more offense. He is a skilled guy and has given us some good minutes at certain times during the year. After Game 1, there needs to be some improvements with our game. Certainly, creating more offense is one of them."
When asked specifically about Gaborik, Tortorella said, "I'm not going to dissect anybody's individual game here."
One of the reasons for the Rangers' lack of scoring chances was the Capitals' ability to block shots, a hallmark of the Rangers all season. They blocked 32 shots, many of them point shots from defensemen.
How can the Rangers combat the Capitals' willingness to sacrifice the body?
"Shoot it by them," Tortorella said. "All teams are going to try to block shots. I'm not sure how it's taught there or what their philosophy is, but they had some sticks on pucks and blocked some shots. We have to think shot more. I think our blue line especially has to think shot more. The quicker you get it off, maybe they're out of line."
It was especially a problem on the Rangers' two unsuccessful power plays, making them 1-for-29 in their past 10 games. Bryan McCabe had six of his seven shot attempts blocked. Gaborik saw some time on the point during Wednesday's practice, but much like the lines, nothing is set in stone for Friday's Game 2.
Despite the lack of success Wednesday, Tortorella liked some of what he saw in Game 1 with the man-advantage.
"I thought on our second power play, the puck movement was good," Tortorella said. "I thought the puck movement was good. I thought we did some things we wanted to do. 'Caber gets one blocked. I think we lose our screen in front of their goalie on one chance. The second one was better than the first. We had some opportunities there, but we didn't capitalize."
"You just want to get shots through and bodies in front," said Brian Boyle, who has just 1 goal in his last 20 games. "We can do a better job of that. We did alright. We just have to get the goal. When we get a power play, we need to score. We did some pretty good things on it."
If the series continues to be a defensive struggle with shots getting blocked and checking remaining tight, it might not be about the quantity of goals but the quality.
The Capitals had just 33 shots, not a big number for a game that nearly went four periods. But they got the timely goals -- Alex Ovechkin's with 6:16 left in regulation to tie it and Alexander Semin's with 1:36 left in overtime.
Tortorella would settle for some of the same clutch goals in Game 2.
"That's a difference from winning and losing, especially in the playoffs, is a big play at a key time," Tortorella said. "I'll go a step further -- it's not just an offensive play. It may not be a goal. It may be a great blocked shot. It may be a great save. It may be a great battle won in the neutral zone that turns into a goal. As these games are so close, big plays at key times are what determine winning and losing.
"They made a big play at the end of the game. They made a couple more big plays than we did."
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