Caps blitz Rangers to take 2-0 series lead

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Washington goalie Michal Neuvirth made 22 saves for his first playoff shutout to help the Capitals beat the New York Rangers 2-0 on Friday to strengthen their NHL series lead.

The Capitals have a 2-0 lead in the best of seven Eastern Conference series which now shifts to New York for game three on Sunday.

The Capitals scored twice inside two minutes early in the second period with Neuvirth and the Washington defense holding the Rangers at bay for the remainder of the game.

"I feel pretty good about my game right now," Neuvirth told reporters. "We didn't give up any big scoring chances -- I think it was a solid team effort tonight."

After a slow start in the first period the Capitals seized momentum two minutes into the second period when Jason Chimera opened the scoring with a wrist shot from the slot.

Less than a minute later, New York's Ryan McDonagh was called for roughing and Jason Arnott scored on the powerplay to double the advantage.

"Special teams are going to win you games all the time," said Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau. We got a lucky break (on Arnott's goal). It was a great shot and we deserved to score."

The miserly Capitals defense gave up just nine shots in the final two periods as they eased to victory.

"It's a valuable lesson. We had some turnovers. It caused the momentum change right away in the second period," said Rangers coach John Tortorella.

"For about five or six minutes there, they surged on us. They scored a goal, we take a penalty, get an unfortunate bounce and that's a big part of the game."

In other NHL playoff games, the Tampa Bay Lightning evened their series at one game each with a 5-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Meanwhile, the Vancouver Canucks seized a 2-0 series advantage over Chicago with a 4-3 victory and the Anaheim Ducks squared their series with Nashville by winning 5-3.

(Reporting by Mike Mouat in Windsor, Ontario. Editing by Alastair Himmer)