Alex Ovechkin proved that the Washington Capitals still have plenty of playoff life even though he's still searching for his first postseason goal.
Ovechkin did plenty Monday night without finding the back of the net, and the Capitals knocked back the upstart New York Rangers with a solid 4-0 victory. Washington rebounded from a pair of frustrating home losses, got to goalie Henrik Lundqvist, and cut its series deficit to 2-1.
Ovechkin earned assists on Alexander Semin's two goals in the first period and was on the ice when Brooks Laich added a power-play tally in the second.
New York coach John Tortorella cautioned that the Rangers won the first two games despite not having the puck enough. That trend continued in the opening period, and they paid for it.
“They played very well defensively and I thought we stunk defensively,” Tortorella said. “That was the key to the game. They defended very well in front of their net and we were chasing our tail all night long _ spinning and watching the puck.”
Behind 33 saves from 20-year-old Simeon Varlamov, the Capitals moved into position to tie the Eastern Conference matchup Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.
“We had some lucky goals,” said Nicklas Backstrom, Ovechkin's linemate who had three assists. “It's just one game. We have to regroup and come back Wednesday.
Despite playing only six career NHL games, Varlamov made a surprise start in Game 2 after Jose Theodore was ineffective in the opener. He was the hard-luck loser in New York's 1-0 victory and earned the nod again.
Lundqvist made 36 saves and did all he could to keep the Caps at bay, kicking out his legs, sprawling on his stomach and back and diving post to post. His best stop came when he denied Tomas Fleischmann's mini breakaway, making the save as he fell forward with 12:21 left in the second.
“It felt like they had a little more power out there,” Lundqvist said. “We had two great games on the road, but we knew it would be tougher to win this one.”