WASHINGTON -- The Washington Capitals are proving they are a tough out in these Stanley Cup playoffs.
After knocking off the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins in the opening round, the seventh-seeded Capitals have evened up their second-round series against the top-seeded New York Rangers after four games.
Mike Green's power-play goal with 5:48 remaining in the third period to give the Capitals a dramatic 3-2 win over the Rangers Saturday afternoon in front of a sellout crowd of 18,506 at the Verizon Center.
The win evens the series at two wins apiece heading into Game 5 Monday night at Madison Square Garden.
"It's one of those pivotal games that I think changes the whole look of the series," Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner said. "If they had gone up 3-1 it would have been extremely tough. It was as close to a must-win as you can get."
Green's goal came 27 seconds after Carl Hagelin took a slashing penalty on Capitals defenseman John Carlson. Green had plenty of time to wind up and fire a low shot from the top of the right circle past Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh and through Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who said he was also screened on Nicklas Backtsrom's second-period goal.
"I didn't see the puck so I was pretty much just guessing where it was going," Lundqvist said. "It's unfortunate, but I move on."
Green's goal was his second of the playoffs. He netted just three in the regular season.
"That's going to be the difference, special teams," Green said. "It's good to know I can still score. It's good to get the win, bottom line, whether it was me or someone else."
Capitals rookie goaltender Braden Holtby made the lead stand up and finished with 18 saves on 20 shots. He also benefitted from the Capitals blocking 26 shots. The Rangers blocked seven in front of Lundqvist.
"It's a big win for us," Holtby said. "Obviously, we expected a long series with our group in here. We grinded everything out. We had a goal in mind and we accomplished it."
With two days off after their triple overtime marathon in Game 3, both teams seemed to have plenty of jump in Game4. The Capitals took a pair of one-goal leads in the first two periods, only to see the Rangers come back to tie each time.
Alex Ovechkin and Backstrom scored for the Capitals, while Artem Anisimov and Marian Gaborik scored for the Rangers.
Lundqvist dominated the first 10 minutes of play, robbing Ovechkin of a goal with a nifty glove save. The Capitals' strategy of shooting high on Lundqvist paid off later in the first period when a giveaway by Rangers rookie Chris Kreider gave Ovechkin a clear path to the net.
Ovechkin snapped a shot off Lundqvist's left shoulder and into the top right corner of the net for his second goal of the series and fourth of the playoffs at the 12:43 mark. The goal was Ovechkin's 29th career playoff goal, moving him within one of Peter Bondra for the most in Capitals history.
The Rangers answered 70 seconds into the second period when Anisimov, who was harshly reprimanded on the bench by coach John Tortorella in the first period, scored his second goal of the playoffs to tie the score.
Anisimov was left alone on the doorstep and when Dan Girardi's shot kicked off the skates of Capitals center Brooks Laich, Anusimov was there to lift it over Holtby.
The Capitals again took a one-goal lead at the 11:54 mark when Backstrom shouldered Ansimov to the ice, then ripped a Jason Chimera pass high over Lundqvist's right shoulder for his first goal of the series and second of the playoffs.
The Capitals looked like they might carry that 2-1 lead into the third period, but Anisimov beat Capitals defenseman Dennis Wideman to the puck to wave off an icing, then fed the puck to Gaborik for a goal almost identical to the one he scored in triple overtime of Game 3.
The Rangers were outshot 26-20 and said they need to find ways around the Capitals' shot blockers.
"I think we can always get more shots, more traffic," Rangers defenseman Marc Staal said. "I think we need to get in the goalie's face and create some more goals."
NOTES: Entering Game 4, the Rangers and Capitals combined to have five players among the top six in playoff blocks. Rangers defensemen Dan Girardi (42) and Ryan McDonagh (33) were 1-2, followed by Capitals defensemen John Carlson (27), Karl Alzner (26) and Roman Hamrlik(26). ... Since the 2010 playoffs, the Capitals have gone 7-3 in games following overtime contests. In those 10 games, the Capitals own a 4-1 record following overtime defeats. Washington has gone 3-0 following overtime losses during these playoffs. ... Holtby has now gone 27 straight starts in the NHL -- including 11 in the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs -- without suffering back-to-back setbacks. Holtby has gone 5-0 following a loss during these playoffs.