It marked the first time since Oct. 30, 2010, at Calgary that those three of the four “Young Guns” had scored in the same game, and the combined effort couldn’t have come at a better time. The Capitals needed the win not only to tie the series, but to bounce back collectively after a gut-wrenching triple overtime loss in Game 3 on Wednesday.
“Young guns? Not so young anymore. But we needed to step up,” said Green, whose tally on the power play came 14 minutes 12 seconds into the third period and stood as the game-winner. “It was important that we got a win tonight here in our building and that it be the guys that need to start scoring. Alex is one of them. Myself and Nicky. So it was good.”
From the start it was clear that the Capitals’ star players were ready for the challenge of sending the series back to New York tied. When Jason Chimera drew an interference call on defenseman Anton Stralman less than three minutes into the contest, the Capitals’ power play buzzed and their best players were at the forefront.
Henrik Lundqvist (23 saves) made six stops during Washington’s man advantage, a few of them stunning. Ovechkin had a backdoor redirect attempt that required perhaps the save of the series, and then the Capitals peppered Lundqvist with three attempts — Alexander Semin from point-blank range, Backstrom from the circle and Green from the point — in nine seconds.
While the all-star netminder turned those opportunities aside with relative ease, Washington’s forwards continued to swarm around him. After a lengthy battle in the corner, the puck popped out to New York rookie Chris Kreider, but he subsequently gave it away to Ovechkin.
Washington’s star left wing took one step toward the center of the ice and ripped a booming slap shot from a few feet inside the blue line. The puck bounced over Lundqvist’s glove and in for Ovechkin’s fourth goal of the postseason to give the Capitals a 1-0 lead at 12:43. Washington is 6-1 in this year’s playoffs when scoring first.
Ovechkin, Backstrom, Semin and Green combined for seven of the Capitals’ 14 shots on goal in the first period. Even in those early stages, the play of Washington’s thoroughbreds was noticeable to the rest of the group.
“You see just the way they’re handling the puck, passing the puck,” defenseman Karl Alzner said. “They just show a ton of confidence. They always have confidence, but they take it to that next level.”
New York responded swiftly at the start of the second as Artem Anisimov scored 70 seconds in to make it 1-1.