NEW YORK -- Sean Avery's antics, especially at the end of Game 3 when he took punched Washington goalie Simeon Varlamov, will not affect the Capitals in Game 4 (7 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN).
At least, that's what Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green and John Erskine were saying Wednesday morning, hours before the puck drops at Madison Square Garden.
"He's a great player, but everybody knows him like the kind of guy who disrespects the team's goalie," Ovechkin said. "I can remember what he did last year to Martin Brodeur. He was just dancing over there. It's too bad there was no music.
"It's his job and I think he can play well, but sometimes he can play like this."
"Like this" clearly means frustrated and out of control, which many believe Avery was in Game 3. He was called for five penalties totaling 18 minutes, including a two-minute roughing minor for punching Erskine in the face early in the second period and a 10-minute misconduct after punching Varlamov at the end of the game.
That's the kind of stuff Green called "just nonsense," but more importantly the Capitals didn't react after either punch, which is why Avery was the only player who was called for a penalty. Ovechkin said that's going to be key in this series.
"That's why our team did best right now, we didn't do anything stupid or answer back," Ovechkin said. "You can see when John Erskine gets hit in the face it's a really tough decision to don't go kill him, and when he touched our goalie at the end of the game … what can I say, it's his job."
Erskine said his history with Avery has given him enough insight as to what not to do when No. 16 tries to bait him. Erskine played against Avery in the Ontario Hockey League, the American Hockey League and the National Hockey League since 1997.
"I've played against Avery forever and I knew he was going to give me a shot in the face, so I'm ready for it," Erskine said. "It doesn't affect me a whole lot. I just kind of brush it off and skate the other way.
"You know he's that type of player. If he skates by the goalie you don't expect him to just skate away. He's going to try to give a goalie a shot or kick his feet out. Hopefully the ref catches it and calls it. The refs (in Game 3) were calling a lot on him."
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