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Capitals calling out their stars

Saturday, 05.09.2009 / 2:15 PM / Conference Semifinals: Washington vs. Pittsburgh

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Alex Ovechkin said the leaders need to be leaders tonight, but more importantly the Washington Capitals need their best players to be their best players if they want to take back the lead in this series.

Ovechkin, Mike Green and Alexander Semin are all on alert. For that matter, so is 21-year-old rookie goalie Simeon Varlamov, but it's way too early to call him a star.

Ovechkin was limited to only seven shots in two games at Pittsburgh. Semin is without a goal in this series after scoring five in seven games against the Rangers. Green made one nice offensive play Friday night to set up Chris Clark's second-period goal, but his gaffs also made him at least partially responsible for the Penguins' second, fourth and fifth goals.

"We always look to those guys, but we can't sit back and wait for those guys to do it," Capitals left wing Brooks Laich said as he tried to deflect the pressure off the stars. "There is so much attention being paid to those guys, so guys like myself and other guys have to contribute. I don't think you can look to the guy next to you to do it; you just have to take it upon yourself to go out there and be the man that makes a difference."

Varlamov, 21, could be the difference, but the hockey world is watching to see how he rebounds from his first bit of adversity.

Varlamov allowed five goals on 28 shots Friday, but Boudreau called the performance "a hiccup" because he believes the youngster has the capability to rebound after a sub-par game because he saw him do it during the regular season.

After giving up five goals on 30 shots against Buffalo at Verizon Center on April 3, Varlamov came back two games later and stopped 29 of 31 shots in Atlanta.

"I assume you've seen enough of him that you must believe like I do that he's a very competitive individual and I think he'll rise to the fore and be very good," Boudreau said.

Contact Dan Rosen at drosen@nhl.com
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