Ovechkin, Caps force deciding game
The bright young forwards of the Washington Capitals scored as the club roared back from a 2-0 deficit on Monday night to force a seventh game in their Eastern Conference quarter-final with the Philadelphia Flyers.
NHL leading scorer Alexander Ovechkin netted the winner and insurance goal in the third period, with Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin also scoring in the 4-2 win at Wachovia Center in Philadelphia. Ovechkin's winner was a beauty, a breakaway move that beat Flyers goaltender Martin Biron over his glove.
"I play for my team, I play for my guys, my teammates, and they play for me, too," said Ovechkin. "I'm glad I scored goal, but I'm glad for Backs and Sasha, they scored [big] goals, too.
"It's fun to have these guys on your back."
Semin also had an assist, with Brooks Laich contributing two assists.
Cristobal Huet had a strong game in Washington's net to limit Philadelphia's early lead to just two goals, finishing with 33 saves. Biron finished with 36 stops.
Mike Richards and Daniel Briere scored power-play goals for Philadelphia, which led the series 3-1. The deciding game will be played Tuesday night in Washington.
"There is still another chance," said Briere. "We have to forget what happened and leave it all on the ice over there. We know we can win there; we did it earlier in the series. That is all we have to think about."
It was the second time in the series the Flyers squandered a lead. In the series opener, Philadelphia led 4-2 after two periods before surrendering three goals in the third.
Philadelphia opened the scoring less than four minutes into the game. Kimmo Timonen's shot from the point banked off the boards behind the net and Richards swooped in from the right-wing circle to pick up the puck and deposit it in the net.
Biron did his part in the first with impressive saves against Laich and Ovechkin.
The Flyers again got the jump at the start of the next period. Vinny Prospal drew his sixth assist to set up Briere, who fired a wrist shot over Huet's arm from the left faceoff circle.
Briere leads all NHL players with six goals and 10 points so far in the playoffs.
Huet ensured Washington didn't fall further behind later in the period, keeping good chances from Philadelphia's Jeff Carter and R.J. Umberger out of the net.
Backstrom gave the Capitals life with his third goal of the playoffs midway through the second. The 20-year-old Swedish rookie and Semin, 24, passed the puck back and forth twice before Backstrom hit the back of the net.
With less than two minutes left in the middle frame, Washington tied the score. Biron couldn't fully catch John Erskine's hard slapshot, with Semin grabbing the rebound and putting it in the half-empty net.
Showtime for Ovechkin in 3rd
"We played with confidence and we knew we can come back and we never stopped [believing] in each other and we just kept pushing and it's working," said Ovechkin.
The Capitals started the third strongly and it was showtime for superstar Ovechkin. He instigated a Flyer turnover in his own end, with Viktor Kozlov springing him on a breakaway that began at centre ice.
Philadelphia had a two-man advantage for 49 seconds midway through the third, but Carter was again denied.
The Flyers took a penalty for too many men on the ice midway through the third, and Ovechkin made them pay, blasting a slapshot from the left faceoff circle past Biron's short side.
"The stars, it seems to happen around them, whether it's John Elway and 'The Drive' or great baseball players getting the last at-bat," said Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau. "He was getting frustrated because they did such a good job on him, but he persevered and came through."
Washington is now 7 for 31 on the power play, with the Flyers improving to 6 for 30.
Should Ovechkin and the Capitals advance, they would face Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins in the next round of the playoffs. Philadelphia would meet Montreal in the second round with a victory in Game 7.
"We just got away from our game," said Richards. "Now, tomorrow night's desperation time."