Ovechkin rises to occasion
Captain offers spark with grit
Washington captain Alex Ovechkin had another gritty game for his team yesterday at TD Garden.
He logged 28 minutes and 1 second of ice time, with five hits and three shots on net.
Ovechkin helped set up his team’s first goal, keeping the puck in the zone. Eventually, Troy Brouwer caught Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas between a rock and a hard place and fired in a backhander from just outside the right post at 17:57 of the second period to give the Capitals a 1-0 lead on the way to their 2-1 win in double overtime. Ovechkin said Game 2 was similar to Game 1. Both teams had to battle for offensive chances.
“I would say it’s going to be a long series,’’ said Ovechkin. “For us, it was very important to win this game and get the series tied and go back home and have home-ice advantage to play against the Bruins.’’
Goaltender Braden Holtby had another terrific outing, making 43 saves. Nicklas Backstrom said he is playing like someone much older than his 22 years. “He looks like he has such confidence back there and calm,’’ said Backstrom, who scored the winning goal at 2:56 of the second overtime. “He’s moving the puck really good, too. He’s helping the [defensemen] out a lot.’’
There for you
Ovechkin, Backstrom, Brooks Laich, and Alexander Semin are the only four Capitals who have suited up for all 39 of the team’s playoff contests over the last four years . . . Game 1 was the first 1-0 overtime shutout in franchise history. It was the third 1-0 shutout in Washington’s playoff history, the others coming in regulation. Olie Kolzig beat the Penguins in 2001 and the Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist had one in 2009 . . . Ovechkin’s assist was his 51st point in 39 career postseason contests, seventh in team history. His 25 playoff goals are tied with coach Dale Hunter for second in team history, trailing Peter Bondra’s 30.
Defenseman Roman Hamrlik is one shy of 100 playoff games in his career . . . Since Hunter took over the reins Nov. 28, the Capitals are 26-3-5 when scoring first. They are now 26-0-1 when leading after two periods . . . For the first time in the team’s 37 seasons in the NHL, the Capitals had three defensemen - Karl Alzner, John Carlson, and Dennis Wideman - who played in all of the team’s games in the same season. Alzner and Carlson are the fourth and fifth defensemen in club history to play in every game in a season in consecutive years and the first to do it in 20 years. Calle Johansson was the last to do so (1990-92).
Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at email@example.com.