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Ovechkin feels the need for speed

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Ovechkin feels the need for speed

NEW YORK Alex Ovechkin knows that if the Capitals are going to come back to beat the New York Rangers in their best-of-seven playoff series hell need to start finding the back of the net.

Ovechkin attempted five shots in Saturdays series-opening 3-1 loss to the Rangers but only one found its way to Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who turned aside 17 of the 18 shots he faced.

I have to find a way, first of all, to have the puck, Ovechkin said, and to find a lane to shoot it.

The Rangers pride themselves in blocking shots and they got in the way of 15 of them in Game 1, padding their league-leading playoff total to 170.

Despite having speedster Jason Chimera on the other wing in Game 1 Ovechkin said he was unable to generate any speed through the neutral zone. And without speed, Ovechkin becomes just another player.

If I want to have scoring opportunities they have to give me the puck at full speed in the neutral zone because in the offensive zone its harder because they have Dan Girardi and another guy Ryan McDonagh on me.

On Sunday Capitals coach Dale Hunter replaced Chimera with Troy Brouwer, who played with Ovechkin and Brooks Laich for most of the first-round series against the Bruins. Brouwer said the Rangers top shut-down pairing of Girardi and McDonagh is not as "towering or as physical" as Bostons Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, but can be just as frustrating to play against.

They play a tough game and log a lot of minutes, Brouwer said. Theyve been playing top players all year long.

Ovechkin says the Capitals also need to make some tweaks on their power play, which looked stagnant while going 0-for-4 on Saturday, including a 33-second stretch of 5-on-3 in the second period.

They love to block shots, Ovechkin said. Maybe if we fake it and they go down on one knee or their whole body we can get the puck to an open guy. On the 5-on-3 I had two opportunities to shoot the puck. The one opportunity there was an open corner and I just missed it.

Boyle nears return: The Rangers appear to be close to getting 6-foot-7, 244-pound center Brian Boyle back in the lineup. Boyle practiced with the team on Sunday after missing the past three games with a concussion.

Boyle had three goals in five playoff games against the Ottawa Senators before leaving the lineup. He said he is progressing nicely but would not give a timetable on his return.

Meanwhile, center Brandon Dubinsky was seen on crutches Sunday, making his return to the lineup doubtful.

Taunting Ovi: Say this about the fans in New York: they find clever ways to taunt opponents. Against the Senators, Rangers fans waited until 11 minutes remained in each period before counting down to chants of AlfieAlfie. Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson wears No. 11.

Against the Capitals on Saturday fans waited until 8 minutes remained on the clock before counting down to chants of Ovi Sucks. Some other fans chanted Ovi-Rated.

I didnt know when, Ovechkin said with a smile, but I hear Ovi Suck. Thats good

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John Tortorella has no answers, walks out of postgame press conference

John Tortorella has no answers, walks out of postgame press conference

In each of the first three games of the series, the Columbus Blue Jackets always had an answer for the Washington Capitals.

The Caps built a two-goal lead in each game and Columbus was able to battle back and tie it each time.

In Game 4 on Thursday, however. the Blue Jackets had no answer in a 4-1 loss to Washington and that includes head coach John Tortorella.

"We weren't good," Tortorella said to the media after the game. "There's no sense asking me things about the game. I'm telling you, we laid an egg. I'm not going to break it down for you. We sucked. We sucked."

Tortorella is known for having some fiery interactions with the media. By his standard, Thursday's postgame presser was fairly tame.

The Capitals may have won Game 3, but Columbus certainly looked like the better team for most of the night. That was not the case in Game 4 as Washington dominated from start to finish. That led to the contentious postgame presser.

"We laid an egg," Tortorella said. "That's all I have to say, guys. I'm sorry, I'm not going to break it down for you. Nothing went well for us. It's on us, we have to figure it out and we will."

Reporters continued to press the head coach until he finally walked out.

Before you laugh too hard at this, it is important to consider that this may be a calculated move by Tortorella.

Sure, there have been times in which he has lost his temper in the past, but these outbursts may be more premeditated than we think.

Consider this. After their worst game of the series, a game in which the Blue Jackets only scored once and saw a 2-0 series lead evaporate in two games at home, we're talking about the head coach. We're not talking about the loss or the performance of the players. Instead, we are talking about Tortorella walking out on reporters.

Even if Tortorella was not willing to give any answers on Thursday, he will need to find some soon. The series now shifts back to Washington for Game 5 on Saturday with all the momentum on the Caps' side.

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4 reasons the Caps beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

4 reasons the Caps beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

The Caps put together their best performance of the series Thursday in a 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 4 of their 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs first-round series.

The win pulled Washington even with Columbus in the series 2-2.

Here's how the Caps got the big win.

4 Reasons why the Capitals beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

1. Tom Wilson factors in the offense

Wilson’s hands are good for more than just punching.

He proved that again on Thursday as he scored the first goal for the second consecutive game. Chandler Stephenson and John Carlson provided the pressure on Sergei Bobrovsky. With Bobrovsky scrambling in the crease, Evgeny Kuznetsov passed the puck back to Wilson who fired the one-timer past the Columbus netminder.

In the first two games of the series, Wilson had no points and no shots. In the last two games, he has two goals and 13 shots on goal.

2. A great keep-in by John Carlson

We saw how dangerous it was when penalty killers fail to clear the puck in Game 1 when the Caps failed to clear in the third period leading to the game-tying power play goal.

In Game 4, the roles were reversed. Trying to kill off an Artemi Panarin penalty, Cam Atkinson attempted to clear the puck with the backhand. Carlson skillfully corralled the puck out of the air at the blue line to keep it in the zone.

The power play was able to reset and T.J. Oshie scored the rebound goal soon after.

3. Braden Holtby closes the door to finish the second period

After the Caps took the 2-0 lead, the Blue Jackets made a late push to try to pull one back.

In the last 10 minutes of the second period, Columbus had 13 shot attempts, five of which were not net. Several of those shots were high-quality opportunities, but Holtby came up with the big saves that the team was not getting earlier in the series.

His play ensured the Caps took the 2-0 lead to the locker room.

4. Alex Ovechkin extends the lead to three

Washington entered the third period up 2-0. In each of the first three games, the Caps held a two-goal lead and allowed the Blue Jackets to battle back and tie the score. Even with a two-goal lead, it still felt at the start of the third that the next goal would decide the game. If Columbus pulled within one and got the crowd back on their side, we have seen what that momentum can do for them.

This time, however, Ovechkin struck first. After a board battle behind the net, the puck trickled out to the faceoff circle. Ovechkin grabbed it and quickly snapped the puck past Bobrovsky before anyone could react.

The goal gave Washington their first three-goal lead of the series and shut the Blue Jackets’ comeback down before it could begin.

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