(John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

It hasn’t been the easiest of years for Capitals defenseman Mike Green. Hindered for the second straight year by injuries, he missed 50 games in the 2011-12 regular season and wasn’t back in the lineup full time until late February.

Since returning from sports hernia surgery, it has taken Green time to assimilate to his role in Coach Dale Hunter’s system. His overall play improved steadily and he had a strong first round against Boston, but the first three games of this Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Rangers saw mistakes abound.

So when Green sent a blistering slap shot through Henrik Lundqvist’s legs on the power play for a goal that stood as the game-winner in a 3-2 Game 4 victory, it was a tally that meant a lot to the defenseman.

Check out a video of the goal below:

“Well, I knew that I had some time to wind up and shoot,” said Green, who finished with 22 minutes, 8 seconds of ice time, three shots and three blocks. “Their forwards collapsed to the other side, Dennis [Wideman] made a great play over. I just had to wait out that d-man on block. He came across and I just held on to it and was lucky enough to get it through.”

It was the type of tally that used to be routine for Green, before the injuries began piling up over the past two seasons. His teammates know that cashing in on a shot like that should provide a boost for the defenseman.

“It’s great for him,” Green’s close friend, Nicklas Backstrom, said. “It’s great to see him score a goal, it gives him some confidence too.”

The goal was Green’s second of the postseason; the other tally came in Game 6 against the Bruins.

“He’s been wanting to score really bad and I don’t think he scored as much as he’d like to,” Karl Alzner said. “[He’s been] shooting the puck in, a lot of great chances. It was awesome. I don’t even know if he was trying to necessarily score on that or shoot for a rebound. But it was great that it went in, great timing.”

More on the Capitals:

Ovechkin says he didn’t hit Girardi’s head

Game story: Capitals top Rangers, 3-2

Graphic: Capitals 2012 playoff shot tracker