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Capitals beat Rangers in Game 3, take 2-1 series lead

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As the Capitals celebrate Jay Beagle’s goal - the only score of Game 3 - Rick Nash (l.) and the Rangers can only look to Game 4.Patrick Smith/Getty Images

As the Capitals celebrate Jay Beagle’s goal – the only score of Game 3 – Rick Nash (l.) and the Rangers can only look to Game 4.

CAPITALS 1, RANGERS 0

WASHINGTON — They created plenty of chances and matched Washington’s physicality, but the Rangers had no answer for Braden Holtby on Monday night, and now they face their first serious case of adversity this postseason.

After winning both games in Pittsburgh last round, the best road team in the NHL dropped Game 3 of their second-round series, 1-0, to the Capitals Monday night at the Verizon Center and is down 2-1 in the series. It was the first time the Rangers were shutout this postseason and just the eighth time they were shut out all season.

The Rangers were only shut out through three periods twice on the road – Jan. 15 in Boston (3-0) and March 18 in Chicago (1-0 overtime win.)

Holtby stonewalled the Rangers to the tune of 30 saves for the shutout while Henrik Lundqvist made 21 save. Jay Beagle scored the game’s only goal in the second period.

The Rangers were sharp for most of the first period despite taking two penalties. They outshot Washington 11-7 and held the Caps to just three even-strength shots.

Capitals goalie Braden Holtby (c.) earns the shutout in Game 3.Alex Brandon/AP

Capitals goalie Braden Holtby (c.) earns the shutout in Game 3.

With Derick Brassard in the penalty box for holding at 13:00 of the first, Lundqvist came up with a huge double save 53 seconds into Washington’s second power play. Alex Ovechkin rifled a shot from the point that Lundqvist tipped into the air with his glove. Joel Ward whacked at the falling puck and hit it directly into Lundqvist’s chest and the puck then trickled wide of the right post.

Lundqvist had earlier robbed Ovechkin on Washington’s first power play when Marcus Johansson got his own attempted pass back after a Dan Girardi block and passed across to the left for Ovechkin. Lundqvist was able to get across net quickly enough to gobble up the shot.

The Rangers got a power play 13 seconds into the second when Karl Alzner was penalized for delay of game. They managed just one shot on goal by Rick Nash, who was the Rangers’ most active offensive player throughout the game, creating opportunities for himself and firing off seven shots as he’s come under scrutiny for his lack of goal-scoring in the playoffs; he has just one goal in eight games. He totaled 10 shot attempts through two periods, two of which were block and three of which missed the target.

“I think you can always do more,” Nash said after the team’s Monday morning skate. “There’s always more I can do to try to score.”

Nash also kept up his solid defensive work, laying out early in the second period with a fully extended stick to tip away a puck which was bound for a wide-open Mike Green in the slot.

Washington went more than seven minutes without a shot to begin the second period, but Jay Beagle put the Caps up 1-0 at 7:31 off a two-shot sequence. A Girardi defensive-zone turnover led to Beagle’s first shot, which Lundqvist saved. The puck deflected to behind the next where Beagle picked it up, came around the net toward the right post and threw the puck toward the post where it took two quick deflections off of Keith Yandle’s skate then Lundqvist’s skate and in. The goal was Beagle’s first of the playoffs.

One of the Rangers’ best chances came at 13:23 of the second after Martin St. Louis blocked a John Carlson point shot. The puck went out into the neutral zone and St. Louis raced after it to create a breakaway, but his slot shot was swallowed up by Holtby’s gut.

Twenty-five seconds later, St. Louis’ backhand was saved by Holtby and with the puck loose amid a several bodies, Nash stuck his stick into the crease and forced Holtby to make another save.

Nash made his presence felt in another dimension 59 seconds into the third, crunching Brooks Orpik into the boards behind Holtby’s net, momentarily shaking up the big defenseman.

Washington’s Tom Wilson was called for boarding James Sheppard at 1:21, giving the Rangers their second power play, but they couldn’t score after two shots on goal. The Rangers are 4-for-28 on the power play this postseason.

With Lundqvist on the bench, Brassard’s point shot was tipped into the air by Holtby with 46.6 seconds left but snagged out of the air. The Rangers had at least nine shots in each period.

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