2011 NHL Playoffs: Rangers Take Game 3 at Home, Capitals Lead 2-1

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2011 NHL Playoffs: Rangers Take Game 3 at Home, Capitals Lead 2-1
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

What a rollercoster of an afternoon for the New York Rangers and their fans. A lot of positives and some negatives to take from the Rangers' 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals in game three.

The Rangers finally showed the heart they've displayed all season long. This is a never-say-die group of blue-collar hockey players, and they stuck to their game today. Washington answered back when the Rangers scored their first two goals, but it didn't break the spirit of the Blueshirts. It says a lot about their character.

Erik Christensen's shot from the bottom of the circle on the power play in the second period was a thing of beauty. Not many NHLers can hit that area of the net even in practice, let alone with a goaltender trying to save it. I'm still not big on Christensen, but the Rangers needed that goal and it was nice to see him get it.

Aside from Henrik Lundqvist, has there been a more important player in the second half of the season than Vinny Prospal? On this young team, Prospal has really emerged as a leader, especially with Chris Drury's game basically retiring. He always seems to find himself in the right place at the right time. He saved the season two weeks ago against the Boston Bruins. Prospal has been money.

Brandon Dubinsky and his mustache played a really strong game. Him driving to the net on the game-winning goal is something this team has to do. They scored two goals on the afternoon right outside the crease. This team isn't built to blow you away with skill, but can beat you with grit. They have to stick to this style.

The line of Sean Avery, Brian Boyle and Brandon Prust was the best line on both sides. Sure, they didn't score, but they played great, especially Avery. They were hungry, physical and really got the crowd and team into the game. Avery's stick-breaking was classic, and just made us love him more. I really wish he was inserted into game one. Don't expect him to watch any more games from the press box this season.

Now to the negatives. Bryan McCabe was brought in to run this power play, and for the most part, he failed. He has stopped shooting and when he does, it often gets blocked. I still like having his veteran leadership, and he hasn't been a defensive liability, but he's got to shoot more.

Sticking with the power play, it was God awful. One-for-seven cannot cut it. This game was essentially handed to them by the referees, and they didn't do anything with it (aside from Christensen's goal). You have to cash in on those chances more often. 

Marian Gaborik needs to score. Simple as that.

Finally, the goal at the end of the second that was waived off could have been the stake in the heart for this group, but they came out and just played their game, found some offense and found a way to win.

The ball is still in Washington's court, but this was a huge confidence builder for the Rangers. If they can play their style on Wednesday, expect the series to be tied.

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