NEW YORK -- If the Capitals are going to find a way to beat the Rangers for a third time in four years, Braden Holtby is going to need to learn to silence Neew York's offense and their rowdy fans.
Holtby allowed goals to rookie Chris Kreider and veteran Brad Richards 90 seconds apart in the third period, then had to listen to derisive chants from the sellout crowd at Madison Square Garden the rest of the game as the Capitals dropped their series opener 3-1 Saturday afternoon .
The series resumes with Game 2 Monday night in Manhattan.
And if the Caps hope to even their best-of-seven series, they'll need better play from their 22-year-old rookie goaltender, who allowed three goals on 14 shots, especially with Henrik Lundqvist imitating a Venus flytrap at the other end of the ice.
The seventh-seeded Caps seemed to have the top-seeded Rangers right where they wanted them through two periods -- locked in a defensive battle of chip and chase.
But Kreider changed all that 7 minutes into the third period with one wicked blast of a slapshot.
Kreider took a pass from Derek Stepan and got a stride ahead of Mike Green before ripping a shot under the left catching glove of Holtby, who came out to challenge and had a clear view of the shot.
Ninety seconds later Jaso Chimera and Karl Alzner lost battles along the wall and Richards made them pay, beating Holtby between the pads for a 3-1 lead on just 12 shots
Nicklas Backstrom joked on Friday that the series between the Caps and Rangers would amount to two teams out there just blocking shots.
It sure looked that way after 20 minutes on Saturday.
The Capitals withstood an early thrust of offense from the Rangers at the start of the game before finding their skatng legs. Still, the two teams combined for just 10 shots in the opening period despite each team having a pair of power plays.
The Rangers broke the ice 12:38 into the second period when Artem Anisonov outmuscled Mike Green behind the net and scored his first goal of the playoffs on a wraparound. It looked like the Rangers might carry that lead int the third period, but Jason Chimera finished off a nice 3-on-2 rush by tapping a perfect pass from Brooks Laich through the 5-hole of Henrik Lundqvist.
Any life that gave the Capitals evaporated with Kreider's goal 7 minutes into the third period.