Slumping Rangers focused on correcting recent woes

WASHINGTON — The Rangers have stopped outscoring their mistakes.

Following a seven-game heater through which they scored at least four goals in every one of those victories, the Rangers will enter their match Saturday afternoon at the spiraling Capitals having lost three straight (0-2-1) while scoring a total of four goals through the skid.

As a consequence, there is an immediate need to refocus on details that might have slipped during the offensive spree. Losers of two straight by 4-1, the Rangers have dropped three straight in regulation only once this season. That was in the final week of November.

“We’ve been a little too loose,” said Ryan Lindgren, one of the few regulars to participate Friday in an optional practice at the Capitals’ training facility in Arlington, Va. “We watched some D-zone clips and rush clips, and we’re giving up too many easy opportunities.

“We’ve got to get to the right spot and eliminate those. It’s all about skating to get to the right areas.”

New York Rangers winger Alexis Lafrenière (13) battles for the puck against Detroit Red Wings defenseman Ben Chiarot (8) during the first period at Little Caesars Arena on February 23, 2023 in Detroit, Michigan.
Rangers winger Alexis Lafrenière (13) battles for the puck against the Red Wings defenseman Ben Chiarot (8) during the first period on Feb. 23.
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It is also about making correct decisions with the puck. While management is dealing with roster management, the players must recommit to intelligent puck management. There were some faulty decisions Thursday in the 4-1 loss to the Red Wings.

“We can’t keep giving up three and four goals a game and expect to win,” head coach Gerard Gallant said. “You get their attention a little bit, play a bit better defensively and make better decisions.

“There were a couple of bad decisions [Thursday]. On the rush, there were a couple of goals we didn’t like and some D-zone goals. We played a pretty good hockey game, but on all their goals, we made bad mistakes, individual mistakes that cost some goals.

“So we had a little meeting and showed some video trying to correct them.”

Artemi Panarin (10), Mika Zibanejad (93) and Adam Fox (23) of the New York Rangers celebrate Zibanejad's goal against the Edmonton Oilers during the third period at Rogers Place on February 17, 2023 in Edmonton, Canada.
Artemi Panarin (10), Mika Zibanejad (93) and Adam Fox (23) of the Rangers celebrate Zibanejad’s goal against the Oilers during the third period on Feb. 17.
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The Rangers have scored three goals at five-on-five over the past three matches, with Vincent Trocheck getting a pair and Vladimir Tarasenko scoring the other. The Blueshirts have one power-play goal in the mix on eight opportunities, that one belonging to Alexis Lafreniere (the first PPG of his NHL career).

They have had just two man-advantages or fewer in seven of their past 12 games.

The Capitals have lost six straight in regulation, a streak bookended by losses to 29th overall San Jose and 31st overall Anaheim. Washington, which has not won a playoff round since capturing the Stanley Cup in 2018, has slipped to seventh by percentages in the wild-card race and would have to pass five clubs to secure a postseason berth.

The Capitals are only two points out of the second wild-card spot but four of the clubs they would need to pass have either three or four games in hand.

The Rangers face the Kings at the Garden on Sunday evening to conclude a stretch in which they will have played three games in four nights and seven in 12. There is another round of three-in-four coming up this coming Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday before a four-day break.

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