Capitals vs. Rangers: Washington on verge of commanding series lead

USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Capitals carry a 2-0 series lead into New York on Monday night. Can the Rangers battle their way back into the series?

The Washington Capitals have a chance to establish a commanding 3-0 series lead against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals on Monday night.

Having scored four unanswered goals dating back to the second period of Game 1, Washington managed to outlast New York in a defensive Game 2 thanks to a power-play goal by Mike Green in overtime.

The two teams have managed to split the majority of faceoffs but the Capitals outshot the Rangers in Game 2, 38-24 (the Rangers outshot their opponent, 36-30, in Game 1, which didn't make much of a difference in the outcome). However, the one area that has proven to be a game-changer is the power play.

Washington has converted on two of seven power-play opportunities. Those two conversions resulted in a game-tying goal in Game 1 and the game-winning goal in Game 2. New York has failed to score on seven power-play chances of their own.

1. Will the Rangers' special teams produce in Game 3?

This includes performance offensively and defensively. In a general sense, a single power-play goal allowed against the top-ranked man advantage unit isn't a terrible night for a penalty-killing unit. Especially considering the Rangers finished the regular season with the highest average penalty minutes per game of any other team.

However, the power-play goals from the Capitals have proven costly and specifically determined the outcome of Game 2.

With the series hanging in the balance, the Rangers will attempt to cut the Capitals' lead in half. Will that come as a result of a flawless special teams performance? Potentially with fewer penalties taken? Or will the club fail to control special teams play and have it decide a second consecutive game?

2. Will New York score more than one goal?

They haven't done so thus far. Considering the amount of offensive talent on both teams, it's interesting that this series has taken a defensive swing. Of course, goals were hard to come by for the Rangers during the regular season (2.62 goals per game average, ranked 15th in league) and it appears to have carried over to the playoffs.

3. Will Washington's penalty kill continue to stifle the Rangers?

The Capitals compiled the fourth-worst penalty kill success rate (77.9 percent) of any team in the league during the regular season. Through two games in the postseason, they are tied for the top-ranked unit (100 percent kill rate). Can they continue this through a third game?

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