Capitals rally to beat Canadiens, even series at one game

After opening the playoffs with a loss to Montreal, the Caps look to rebound in Game 2 at Verizon Center.
By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 18, 2010

By the late stages of the second period Saturday night, jeers had started to rain down from the red-clad capacity crowd at Verizon Center. After 31 seconds had expired in overtime, the only things coming from the stands were hats.

Nicklas Backstrom scored three goals, including the winner 1 minutes 52 seconds after rookie John Carlson forced the game to extra time, and the Washington Capitals escaped with a 6-5 victory over the Canadiens that sends the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series back to Montreal tied at one game.

Backstrom's performance, coupled with a goal and three assists from Alex Ovechkin helped the Capitals overcome a hat trick from Andrei Kostitsyn and José Theodore yielding two goals on the first two shots he faced to open the game.

"Nicky is a great player and great players come to fore when you need them," Coach Bruce Boudreau said.

After praising Backstrom, Boudreau was asked about his team's defensive performance and whether he "liked 'em that wild" as in needing to score five of the game's final six goals.

"No," he said with a shrug. "But, I mean, that's the only way we were going to win tonight was if we decided to go all offense. By no stretch did we deserve to win. We got lucky and we did. We know we're not out of the woods."

The tough questions, though, might have just begun for Boudreau, who will have to decide what to do about a starting goaltender for Monday's Game 3 at Bell Centre.

Does he go back to Theodore, and give the veteran the start in his home town, against his former team, in front of fans who have not been kind to him in the past? Or does he turn to Semyon Varlamov, who yielded three goals on 22 shots?

"I don't know, in the real world, if Theo had much chance on either one of them," Boudreau said. "But I do know that we had expended an awful lot of energy in the first eight minutes of the game and we were down 2-0. So I thought that might [result in] a lift from the crowd and a lift on the bench."

Theodore said: "In the playoffs you have to make those saves. Then I was ready to get [more] shots and they didn't come. Then that second shot was a pretty good shot. . . . Bruce decided to change me and it was obviously a good choice because we won the game."

But the story Saturday wasn't goaltending woes, it was the Capitals' stars finally showing up -- even if fashionably late.

Following Thursday's 3-2 overtime defeat in Game 1, Boudreau challenged Ovechkin and his supporting cast of stars, saying, "Our best players weren't our best players tonight."

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2010 The Washington Post Company