Capitals edge Rangers to even up the series

Brooks Laich of the Capitals puts Carl Hagelin of the Rangers into the net during a collision in the second period of Saturday's NHL playoffs game in Washington, D.C. Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, left, looks on. The Capitals won 3-2 to even the best-of-seven series at 2-2.

Washington - Peel away the questions of whether penalties should or should not have been called and whether the Capitals' Alex Ovechkin delivered a hit to Dan Girardi's head or his shoulder and what's left is a different series with the same scenario.

And the Rangers are not happy.

"It's an opportunity lost," left wing Mike Rupp said. "You've got to let it marinate and let it burn and use it to our advantage on Monday."

Mike Green scored the power-play winner at 14:12 of the third period as the seventh-seeded Capitals beat the top-seeded Rangers, 3-2, Saturday afternoon at the Verizon Center to tie their Eastern Conference semifinal at two games apiece. The teams were coming off the Rangers' epic 3-2, triple-overtime win in Wednesday's Game 3.

Game 5 is Monday night at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers were in the same spot in the first round, losing Game 5 to the eighth-seeded Senators before rallying to advance in seven games.

"Right now, it's tough to be positive but it's 2-2," said Henrik Lundqvist, who made 23 saves. "I'm probably going to think about this game for a couple of hours, then move on and look forward to playing at home."

The Capitals beat the defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins in the first round, winning Game 4 at home to tie the series before advancing in seven games.

"Yeah, we're very disappointed," center Brad Richards said. "But that's going to have to leave our mind. We just did it, same position, best of three with home ice."

"We don't feel frustrated," Rupp added. "We made a few mistakes and they wound up in our net. It was not a horrible game but it was not what we needed to do to win the series. We had an opportunity to do something today and we didn't put ourselves in the best position to do that."

Green's winner came after left wing Carl Hagelin was called for slashing John Carlson at 13:45 as the Capitals defenseman's stick was broken. Minutes earlier, Rangers center Brian Boyle had his stick broken without a call.

And on Green's goal, Rangers captain Ryan Callahan went to the ice along the boards after a collision. Richards, Girardi, defenseman Marc Staal and coach John Tortorella all declined to discuss the officiating.

"You have to," Callahan said about the Rangers trying to temper their frustration. "It's the playoffs. You've got to control your emotions and keep moving forward to try to get that equalizer. But we didn't."

Ovechkin was called for charging Girardi at 12:17 of the second period. The puck was at Ovechkin's feet in the Rangers' zone but he wound up leaving his skates for a shoulder check on Girardi.

Girardi, who said after the game he escaped injury, said he was hit in the head. Ovechkin said he hit Girardi in the shoulder and he was just trying to protect himself.

The Capitals outshot the Rangers, 14-3, in the first period thanks to a six-shot power play after Anton Stralman's interference call at 2:25. Ovechkin made it 1-0 at 12:43 with a slap shot from the slot that went in and out of Lundqvist's glove after rookie Chris Kreider turned the puck over with a blind, backhanded attempt at a clear.

"I think the power play put us on our heels a little bit," Staal said. "I thought we responded well with a great second."

Artem Anisimov, berated by Tortorella for a first-period lapse, tied the game at 1 at 1:10 of the second period, then set up Marian Gaborik's goal to tie the game at 2 at 16:43 of the second period, beating Capitals defensemen Jeff Schultz and Dennis Wideman down the ice to negate a potential icing.

Nicklas Backstrom had given the Capitals a 2-1 lead at 11:54 of the second period.

Braden Holtby made 18 saves for the Capitals.


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