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Green's OT goal gives Capitals 2-0 lead on Rangers

The SportsXchange

WASHINGTON -- Washington defenseman Mike Green has developed a reputation of being a clutch player, if not around the National Hockey League, then certainly around the Capitals' locker room.

"He's a big-time player," teammate Karl Alzner said after watching Green provide the game-winning goal eight minutes into the first overtime to give the Capitals a 1-0 win over the New York Rangers Saturday afternoon at the Verizon Center.

"He handles the pressure well. He's calm with the puck all the time. When it gets into overtime and guys get the shakes a little bit, he's still calm Mike Green. That's why we call him Casual Mike."

Green's slap shot past the outstretched glove of Henrik Lundqvist gave the third-seeded Capitals a two-games-to-none lead in the best-of-seven series, which moves to New York for Game 3 on Monday night.

NHL teams that have taken the first two games of a series have won 83 percent of the time, but of the nine times Washington has taken a 2-0 series lead it has advanced just four times.

"It's tough to lose in overtime, especially in a game like this," Rangers captain Ryan Callahan said. "But at the same time, we've got two games at home now. We have to take care of business at home."

Green, who led all NHL defensemen with 12 goals in the regular season, took a pass from Mike Ribeiro in the high slot and drilled a waist-high shot into the right side of the net.

"(Ribeiro) does such a good job of drawing guys to him and obviously they are on Ovi (Alex Ovechkin)," Green said. "I just happened to be open and my goal was to get it by the first guy and try to hit the net."

Fifty-one seconds earlier, Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh was called for delay of game when he shot the puck out of the rink. Earlier in the overtime period Capitals defenseman Steve Oleksy also drew a delay of game penalty, but the Rangers failed to record a shot on the man-advantage.

"We were just too stagnant," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "We were almost paralyzed."

Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby stopped all 24 shots he faced for his first career playoff shutout. The Capitals outshot the Rangers 8-0 in the overtime period.

The two teams combined for 54 shots and 102 hits through the first three periods but had nothing to show for it on the scoreboard. Each team was awarded a power-play opportunity in the first period but neither scored on it as Lundqvist and Holtby dueled it out at opposite ends of the rink.

The closest the Rangers came to scoring was just 3:50 into the game when defenseman Anton Stalman rang a shot off the top right-corner post.

Lundqvist made nice stops on a Mathieu Perreault deflection and an Ovechkin rush in the first period, while Holtby turned aside Michael Del Zotto from the high slot and Darroll Powe from the side of the net.

The Capitals' best chance to take a lead came with 5:50 remaining in the second period when Martin Erat blocked a shot and fed Troy Brouwer for a 2-on-1 with Ribeiro. Ribeiro carried the puck into the offensive zone but Del Zotto took away his passing lane and Lundqvist got his blocker on Ribeiro's short side shot from in close.

NOTES: Center Brian Boyle (leg) and right wing Derek Dorsett (broken clavicle) returned to the Rangers' lineup, replacing Kris Newbury and Chris Kreider. Boyle missed the final six games of the regular season, while Dorsett has not played since March 7 for the Columbus Blue Jackets, who traded him to the Rangers on April 3. ... With his power-play goal in Game 1, Capitals captain Ovechkin set a franchise record with 31 career playoff goals, one more than Peter Bondra. Bondra netted 30 goals in 73 playoff games. Ovechkin notched his 31st in his 52nd playoff game. ... Six of Jason Chimera's eight career playoff goals have come against the Rangers. ... The two teams will practice in their respective facilities on Sunday, then meet again in New York for Game 3 on Monday night at Madison Square Garden. ... The Rangers entered the game with a 3-1-0 record in afternoon games this season, outscoring their opponents 12-5. Washington went 3-4-0 in day games and were outscored 22-18. ... Capitals defenseman Oleksy and Rangers forwards Newbury and Derrick Brassard and defenseman John Moore played in their first career playoff games in Game 1.
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