By Gene Wang
Washington Post staff writer
Sunday, April 18, 2010; D10
Just three months removed from scoring the game-winning overtime goal against Canada to give Team USA gold in the world junior championships, John Carlson again played the hero.
With the Capitals needing to score or face being down two games to none against Montreal, Nicklas Backstrom passed Carlson the puck in an unsettled situation, and the rookie defenseman sent a wrist shot past goalie Jaroslav Halák to tie the score at 5 with 1 minute 21 seconds to play and force overtime.
"There's just something about him," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "Glory follows him. 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's career is going to be like that."
The play unfolded just after several Canadiens stopped briefly after what they figured was going be penalty drawn by Alex Ovechkin. That moment of hesitation allowed Backstrom to get into the Montreal zone and Carlson to have a clear sight line toward the goal.
"I saw the penalty, and their guys kind of gave up because they thought the whistle was going to blow," Carlson said, "and I just skated up the ice, and Nicky made a nice pass to me, and I just tried to squeak it through. There was a lot of traffic."Ovechkin returns to form
After one of his most forgettable games of the season in Game 1, Ovechkin recorded his first points of the series with an assist on Backstrom's goal late in the second period. He later scored early in the third to draw Washington to 4-3.
Ovechkin had gone without a shot or a point in Thursday's 3-2 loss, and he responded with more energy in Game 2. He had a quality chance early against Halák and was unable to convert, but he ended up with six shots and was much quicker to and with the puck.
"I felt pretty good today," said Ovechkin, who finished with four points. "It feels good to get into the game and make some hits and make some shots. I think I played a lot better."Scuffle sparks Capitals
Moments following the goal from Ovechkin that revived the Verizon Center crowd, Capitals defenseman Tom Poti kept the fan momentum going by engaging center Scott Gomez in a fight that sent both players to the penalty box for five minutes.
The brawl began after a pileup in front of the Capitals crease sent the goal off its moorings just as Montreal forward Brian Gionta had flipped the puck in for an apparent goal. But the red light never flashed, and players began shoving one another.
"I think maybe after the fight a little bit we kind of turned it around," said Poti, who is not known as a pugilist. "Everyone started to kick it into that extra gear, and I guess that's what you have to in the playoffs sometimes, kind of do things you don't normally do during the regular season."