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More effective pest in Caps/Rangers series: Avery or Ovechkin?

Sean Leahy
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Hours after he was removed from watching the New York Rangers morning skate, Alexander Ovechkin did something else that might further tick off John Tortorella and his players.

After the Washington Capitals' 4-0 victory in Game 3 last night, Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom skated to center ice at MSG and did a jumping side-bump -- you know, the celebration you see after any NBA player does anything, from hitting a big shot to sinking a free throw.

Their celebration occurred in front of the remaining disgruntled Rangers fans filing out of Madison Square Garden. As Dan Steinberg wrote in the Bog after the game, there were some expletives thrown the Capitals' way, and even a few of those plastic beer bottles.

When asked about the post-game celebration, Backstrom said it's nothing new:

"We've been doing it all season, doesn't matter where it is," Backstrom said. "I heard the crowd was yelling at us, but it was nothing against them, it was just a thing we have."

Someone check on Don Cherry!

Rangers fans are calling it an insult, and WFAN in New York is buzzing with talk that the moment included mockery of the "stick salute" the Blueshirts have popularized. But as Backstrom indicated, the "bump" has been used before after Capitals road games (video).

With the amount of coverage given to Ovechkin taking in Rangers practice yesterday morning and the fact that the two-time Rocket Richard Trophy winner has yet to record a goal through three games, this continuing drama is not going to die -- especially in New York.

Speaking of ticking off an opponent, the non-lobotomized Sean Avery returned to form, too.

Avery was called for three minor penalties in the second period and then ending his night with a 10-minute misconduct after this no-look punch on Caps goaltender Simeon Varlamov:

Was that a glove punch? Or a stick punch? Should Avery be suspended? I'm just not sure anymore. Does Maggie the Monkey spin the NHL's "Wheel of Discipline" for Colin Campbell these days?

From Ray Ferraro, TSN: "That's not going to impress John Tortorella at all."

What does impress Torts anyway?

Despite a hiccup against Boston a few weeks back, Avery has been a model pest after his return to the NHL, but his efforts in Game 3 hindered the Rangers from getting back into the game. New York's defense was also suspect, which Tortorella spoke about to the media afterwards: "A very important part of trying to compete in this series is having the puck. You're not going to have the puck if you play defense like we played it tonight."

Game 4 is Wednesday night, and it seems that Bruce Boudreau's goaltending change is paying off. Varlamov kept the Capitals in Game 2 and won them Game 3. The swing game of a series is typically the fifth one when tied 2-2. In Washington's case, it could be Wednesday night with the opportunity to tie the series and head home for Game 5.

And as ESPN's Pierre LeBrun said to end his recap of the game, "At least it's a series now."

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