Back a few seasons ago, when Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Mike Green were helping the Washington Capitals finally start to emerge from years of rebuilding with a go-go, attacking style, the team promoted its high-scoring core group with the slogan "Young Guns."
These days, the Capitals are succeeding in the playoffs with a more conservative, defensive-minded style - and it still never hurts when the best of the best put the puck in the net.
Defenseman Green's slap shot on a power play with 5 minutes, 48 seconds left in regulation was the go-ahead goal, and Ovechkin and Backstrom scored Saturday, too, lifting the host Capitals to a 3-2 victory over the top-seeded New York Rangers that tied their Eastern Conference semifinal series at two games apiece.
"People have been talking about [how] we need to step up," said Backstrom, who missed 40 games in the regular season with a concussion and hadn't scored since Game 2 of the opening round against Boston. "If you work hard, good things happen to you, somebody told me."
Ovechkin made it 1-0 about 121/2 minutes into the game with a 40-foot slap shot after Rangers rookie Chris Kreider accidentally sent the puck to the two-time NHL MVP's stick. In the second period, Ovechkin's skates left the ice as he delivered a high hit to defenseman Dan Girardi, a play that resulted in a charging penalty against the Russian winger and could draw attention from the league office.
"My head's kind of there," Girardi said, "and he hits it."
Capitals coach Dale Hunter offered this analysis: "It was incidental contact, where both of them were looking down and they hit each other."
- Associated Press