Photos of Varlamov and Avery (c) C. Nichols 2009. Photo of Ovechkin courtesy of AP.

The Washington Capitals, fresh off a 4-0 shutout of the New York Rangers in Game Three of the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, look to play a carbon copy in Game Four tonight at 7:00 p.m. from fabled Madison Square Garden.


Twenty-year old rookie goaltender Simeon Varlamov shut down and shut out the relatively feeble Ranger attack in Game Three, making 33 saves, controlling rebounds and deflecting pucks to the corners, and not allowing troublemaker Sean Avery to disrupt his concentration in front of the Washington goal.

Perhaps knowing very little English is a bonus in that regard.

"You don't have a conversation with your goalie out there too often," defenseman Shaone Morrisonn said.

The Rangers have gone a combined 112 minutes, 16 seconds without a goal in Games Two and Three, started by Varlamov.


While not completely silent, the Caps' two biggest names, Alex Ovechkin and Mike Green, have been kept fairly well in check this series so far.

Ovechkin, the league's regular season goals leader, has no goals and four assists in three games, while Green, only the seventh defenseman in NHL history to record a 30-goal season, has just two helpers in the series.

This season, the Caps were 31-5-4 when Ovechkin scored and just 18-17-4 when he failed to get a goal. When Green scored this season the team was 19-4-3.

Ovechkin has 24 shots in the three games, an average of 8.0 per game, up from his season average of 6.68. Green, however, is down, with nine shots total (average of 3.0), compared to his season average of 3.57 shots per game.

Getting these two on track in Game Four would go a long way in evening the series.


Is Sean Avery, New York's resident bad boy, helping or hurting his team at this point?

Avery took four minor penalties and a game misconduct in Game Three. One of his penalties negated a Rangers' power play and another led to a Washington power play goal.

What's more, the Caps aren't getting rattled by his nonsense. Avery threw punches at both John Erskine and Simeon Varlamov and neither were met with retaliatory swings. The Caps were perfectly happy with Avery skating off the ice and taking their retaliation by having the extra man for two minutes.

For the series, Avery is pointless with a minus-1 rating, 10 shots on goal and 20 minutes in penalties.