ALEX OVECHKIN silenced the Madison Square Garden crowd that has been taunting him for two games. If he can fire up the fans back at home, too, the Washington Capitals could be in store for a deep playoff run.
Ovechkin scored a power-play goal with 7:27 remaining to snap a tie and gave the Capitals a 3-2 victory over the New York Rangers that squared the Eastern Conference semifinal series, 1-1, on Monday night.
Just under 6 minutes after Ryan Callahan got the Rangers even with a power-play goal, Ovechkin put the Capitals ahead for good after they squandered a 2-0 lead.
Whether Ovechkin heard the derisive chants that greeted him every time there were 8 minutes left - matching his uniform number - in each period or not, they certainly didn't knock him off his game. Despite diminished minutes in the playoffs, Ovechkin is still every bit as dangerous during crunch time.
"Ovi is a team guy and he is cheering his guys on," Caps coach Dale Hunter said. "He knows what these guys are going through at the end of the game. They've got to go out and slide and block shots. He appreciates that.
"The one thing is that he has been real fresh for the power play."
Mike Knuble and Jason Chimera scored first-period goals for the Capitals, who will host the next two games of the series. Washington is trying to repeat its first-round feat when it lost the series opener but rallied to beat Boston in seven games. The Capitals have earned four of their five wins in this postseason on the road, but are only 1-2 at home.
"We probably weren't very fond of our home games against Boston. That's one thing that we want to improve on," goalie Braden Holtby said. "I'm very confident in our group here, and I'm confident that I will be there to back them up."
Brad Richards had a goal and assist, and defenseman Michael Del Zotto had two assists for the top-seeded Rangers, who got forward Brian Boyle back from a three-game injury absence but couldn't turn it into a commanding lead in the series.
New York rebounded from a 14-shot performance in its series-opening win and fired 28 shots on Holtby. But the increase in numbers produced fewer results.
Henrik Lundqvist, who allowed two goals or fewer in six of the previous eight games and four straight, made 22 saves for the Rangers.
Agitated Rangers coach John Tortorella first lamented the numerous mistakes by his club that led to goals and then the costly late power play that decided the game. "You fight back to tie the game as hard as we did, you can't take 4 minutes in penalties," Tortorella said.
At St. Louis, Anze Kopitar scored twice in a four-goal, first-period blitz as the Los Angeles Kings embarrassed the Blues from the opening faceoff for a 5-2 victory, their fifth straight road win this postseason.
Mike Richards and Jeff Carter had a goal apiece and Dustin Penner and Dustin Brown each had a pair of assists in the first period.