Not quite eight minutes into Game Two of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals matchup with the Montreal Canadiens, Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals found themselves two goals down in their own barn.

After dropping Game One 3-2, it was not how the Caps wanted to get out of the gate.

Throughout the game, they found themselves down 3-1, 4-2 and 5-4 to an opportunistic Canadiens attack.
It mattered not.

Nicklas Backstrom scored 31 seconds into overtime for a 6-5 Caps win, sending the series to Montreal tied at two.

The overtime winner completed a hat trick for the 22-year old Swede, his first of this season and his first career playoff hat trick.

It was a fairly non-descript wrist shot that just seemed to fool Montreal goalie Jaroslav Halak.

"[I was] a little bit [surprised it went in], but if you are going to score, you have to shoot, right? I was trying to get it on the net and I was lucky it went in."

Backstrom also assisted on the goal that sent the game into overtime, a John Carlson blast that sailed just under the glove of Halak (31 saves on 37 shots).

The play started in the defensive end, as Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (one goal, three assists) started a breakout, but was slashed by Montreal forward Michael Cammilleri, triggering a broken stick and delayed penalty call.

The puck ended up on Backstrom's stick, and he carried through the neutral zone.  Carlson joined the rush and Backstrom dropped the puck near the blueline for the streaking defenseman.  Carlson collected and utilized the Montreal defenseman and Backstrom as confusion and screen for the shot, which tied the game with 1:21 remaining in regulation.

"There's just something about him.  I mean, glory follows him" Coach Bruce Boudreau said about his 20-year old defenseman.  "Some guys get that.  I've said it before, they come up in the ninth inning with the bases loaded and they're the ones that do the damage.  I think John Carlson in his career is going to be like that."

This game did not start out happy for the Caps, though, and the ramifications could linger throughout their playoff run.

Starting goalie Jose Theodore allowed goals on his first two shots faced.  And though they were both tough attempts, Coach Bruce Boudreau needed to change the momentum and went to backup Semyon Varlamov.

The first was a long shot from Brian Gionta that Boudreau called a "knuckleball", and on the second Mike Green and Jeff Schultz kept retreating, which allowed Andrei Kostitsyn to walk into the slot and beat Theodore glove-side.

Not quite eight minutes in, the Caps were down 2-0 and pulling a goalie that had not lost in regulation in three months.  Things looked bleak.

Eric Fehr halfed the lead a but later, as he took a long breakout pass from Tomas Fleischmann and beat Halak with a quick wrist shot on a breakaway.  The first period ended at 2-1 Habs, and all things considered, things didn't look too bad.

But Montreal scored the next two goals (both by Kostitsyn, completing his own hat trick) to take a 4-1 lead with just 2:16 to go in the second period. Again, bleak.

But that's when the Caps' stars, Backstrom and Ovechkin, went to work.

Less than a minute later, Backstrom collected a rebound from a Joe Corvo shot and unleashed a slap shot from a tight angle that somehow managed to get through a Mike Knuble screen and past Halak.

Ovechkin drew the team to within one less than three minutes into the third period.  Carlson kept a clearing attempt in the zone and fired toward the Montreal goal.  The puck deflected off Matt Bradley and onto Halak, but the goalie could not handle the puck cleanly. 

Ovechkin jammed his stick between Halak's pads and rammed the puck home for The Great 8's first goal of these playoffs.

The first tying goal came at the 9:47 mark, with Backstrom knocking in a cross-crease pass from Ovechkin from the corner.

But the celebration would be short-lived, as Tomas Plekanec would surface again.  Mike Green tried to clear the puck from his own end, but put the puck right on Plekanec's stick.  He fed Michael Cammelleri, who either shot or passed back to Plekanec, who tipped it behind Varlamov to regain the lead, 5-4 with just over five minutes remaining.

CAPS NOTES:  The Capitals are now 16-22 all time in playoff overtime games, and won their first playoff overtime game at home since a 3-2 OT win against Buffalo on May 25, 1998, ending a five-game losing streak in home overtimes.

Alex Ovechkin added three assists and now has 34 points (16 goals, 18 assists) in 25 career playoff games. With four points in the contest, Ovechkin established a playoff career high.

Ovechkin finished the game with eight hits, two shy of his regular-season single-game high.

Semyon Varlamov, who started 13 of 14 games in last year's postseason, made 22 saves on 25 shots to pick up his eighth career postseason victory in 14 games. Varlamov has three wins in three games played against Montreal in the regular season and postseason combined.

3 comments

  1. GO // April 18, 2010 at 11:28 AM  

    On a team with a history of having some of the greatest defensemen ever to play the game (see Langway, Stevens and Murphy), Mike Green is a disgrace to the position. He was responsible for at least two Montreal goals last night and frankly, is a liability.

    Further, a team cannot play no-account, run and gun hockey -with subpar goaltending to boot-and expect to get through the NHL playoffs on top.

  2. Dave Nichols // April 18, 2010 at 12:13 PM  

    Mike Green, and his pairing Jeff Schultz, both played poorly last night I thought Green was decent in game one though. I'm not ready to write them off, but both need to do a better job standing up the Montreal forwards instead of skating backwards into thir own net.

  3. GO // April 18, 2010 at 1:24 PM  

    It shouldnt be too difficult standing up to the Habs forwards, their average height is under 6 feet.