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Ovechkin: 'We just can't go home right now'

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Ovechkin: 'We just can't go home right now'

Alex Ovechkin says the Capitals have come too far this season to have it end.

You dont want your season to be ended tonight, Ovechkin said Wednesday in a quietly confident locker room at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. I think its going to be do or die. Everybody knows. Everybody understands. We just cant go home right now.

The Capitals and New York Rangers are two of just five teams remaining in the chase for the Stanley Cup. The Kings, Coyotes and Devils already have clinched berths in the conference finals.

The Capitals have not lost consecutive games since March 22 and 23 against the Flyers and Jets and are 5-0 in the playoffs following losses, including a 2-1 overtime victory in Game 7 against the Bruins in Boston.

Theyre warriors, Capitals coach Dale Hunter said. They know what it takes to win and theyll work hard out there and battle.

I dont think we deserve to end the season right now, Ovechkin said. Everybody knows were a good hockey club. We beat the Stanley Cup champions in a seventh game in Boston. We have that kind of confidence. Right now I dont think anybody thinks, Geez its going to be over.

The Capitals are 6-1 in the playoffs when scoring first. The Rangers are 6-2 when they score first. Tonight likely will be two teams going all out in the first 10 minutes to produce that first goal.

We need to come out hungry, said Matt Hendricks, who scored the opening goal in Game 7 in Boston. We need to come out and try to strike first and thats our goal.

Unlike Monday morning in New York, when players were joking on the ice and in the dressing room following their morning skate, the mood at Kettler on Wednesday was more businesslike.

It's more serious today, Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner said. We realize how important this is and we're making sure everybodys on. It's a do-or-die game for us, so we're all pretty intense. Obviously, we want to do and not die, so we're ready for it.

Ovechkin who was held without a shot in Game 5 for just the second time in his playoff career, was asked if hell need to lead the charge tonight with his team facing elimination. He immediately ran off teammates names as if they were reindeer on his sleigh.

Me, Backy, Sasha, Greener, Laich, Chimmer, Ovechkin said. Everybody has to be 100 percent ready and everybody has to give 100 percent or were done.

To be sure, Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Semin, Mike Green, Brooks Laich and Jason Chimera will need to play their best hockey tonight. But the Capitals will need their highest-paid player to rebound from his Game 5 performance.

I just didnt get an opportunity to take a shot, Ovechkin said. Or if I got the opportunity they blocked it. For me the most important thing is I just need one chance to get the puck and put it in the net.

Hunter, who has played in 186 career playoff games, said hell need Ovechkin and the rest of his players to embrace the pressures of playing with their season on the line.

Youll see him work out there, Hunter said. Hell finish hits and go to the net hard. We know whats at stake. Theres nothing better than being under pressure Thats the best part of it.

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3 reasons the Caps beat the Sabres

3 reasons the Caps beat the Sabres

The Caps could not shake Buffalo for two periods, but a dominant finish on Saturday helped them pull away for a 5-1 win. Here's how they finally put away the Sabres.

A quick start

Strong starts go a long way towards helping a team in the middle of a slump. It's a confidence boost for a group in desperate need of one and the Caps got that boost on Saturday from Evgeny Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov used his wheels to zip in behind the defense and score just 50 seconds into the game. Washington led 1-0 at the end of the first, just the second time in 19 games they have held a lead after the opening 20 minutes.

RELATED: SEE THE 3 STARS FROM CAPS-SABRES HERE

Andre Burakovsky snapping a second period slump

It looked in the second period like the Caps were caught trying to protect the lead again, but Andre Burakovsky woke the team back up with his incredible highlight end-to-end goal. It really looked like Buffalo was going to tie the game at one, but instead, Burakovsky extended the lead to two. Going end to end the way he did shows a player who is starting to play with some confidence, something Burakovsky has lacked for much of the season.

Ovechkin's two-goal third period

Buffalo would not go away. Sam Reinhart got the Sabres on the board just 14 seconds into the third period and suddenly the Caps found themselves in a one-goal game again. But Ovechkin ended any hopes for the comeback as he struck in the top corner of the net on the power play from the office. He would later add a deflection goal to extend the lead to 5-1, giving a scuffling Washington team the dominant win they so sorely needed.

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3 stars of the game: Caps erupt in 3rd for dominant win over Sabres

3 stars of the game: Caps erupt in 3rd for dominant win over Sabres

The Capitals needed a win in the worst way and they got one, dispatching the Buffalo Sabres in dominating fashion with a 5-1 win.

Washington was locked in a tight game leading 2-0 heading into the third period when Sam Reinhart scored just 14 seconds into the period to pull Buffalo to within one. The Caps then slammed the door shut, scoring three unanswered goals to put away the Sabres.

Here are the three stars of the game.

1. Alex Ovechkin: This was career game No. 983 for Ovechkin, tying him for the franchise record for most games played with Calle Johansson. Ovechkin very fittingly celebrated the occasion with two goals. The first came on a power play goal from the office, but there was no need for a one-timer on this one. The Sabres gave him all the time he needed to aim up the shot and wrist it into the top corner.

He added a second goal late off a deflection from a John Carlson shot.

2. Evgeny Kuznetsov: To say the Caps have struggled at the start of games would be an understatement. In the last 18 games, Washington has held the lead after the first period only once. Kuznetsov made sure this game started off on the right foot as he scored just 50 seconds into the game. He turned on the jets in the neutral zone to turn the edge on Jason Pominville then easily skated around a weak, ill-advised challenge from Robin Lehner before flinging the puck into the yawning net.

It was the fastest goal to start a game by the Caps this season. It was just the start of what would be a four-point night for the Caps' center as he added three assists.

3. Andre Burakovsky: Burakovsky had the highlight of the game with his end-to-end goal in the second period to put Washington up 2-0. He looked like he was shot out of a cannon as he launched himself from the defensive zone, streaked down the center of the ice and in on net to slide the puck through the Lehner's five-hole.

Look how Burakovsky was able to slice through the Sabres' defense. Buffalo had him surrounded, but his speed caught the Sabres off-guard and they were not able to recover in time to actually slow him down.