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Holtby getting plenty of help

by John Kreiser
Washington goaltender Braden Holtby had to face only 20 shots in the Capitals' 3-2 win in Game 4 on Saturday afternoon. For that, he can thank the other 18 guys in the red sweaters.

While the Rangers managed to get just 20 shots on goal, Holtby's teammates blocked 26 others -- exactly half of New York's total of 52 attempted shots. The Caps did a better job of getting their shots through to the net; Washington attempted just 40 shots, but 26 of them got to Henrik Lundqvist -- and three of them went into the net.

The Rangers blocked just seven shots on Saturday after getting in front of 41 during Game 3. They had blocked 14 in each of the first two games.

Alex Ovechkin
Left Wing - WSH
GOALS: 4 | ASST: 3 | PTS: 7
SOG: 45 | +/-: -2
Big Three reunited -- The combination of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green made the Washington Capitals the NHL's most dangerous offensive team for a couple of seasons. But injuries and tighter defensive play have cut down on the offensive production from Washington's three stars.

However, all three came through with goals in the Caps' 3-2 win on Saturday. How unusual was having all three players turn on the red light? It hadn't happened since Oct. 30, 2010, when they all scored (Ovechkin did it twice) in Washington's 7-2 victory at Calgary.

No carryover -- So much for a big emotional lift after a three-overtime win.

The Rangers and Capitals are headed back to the Big Apple all even in their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series after the Caps' 3-2 victory in Game 4. The game started about 60 hours after the Rangers' 2-1 triple-overtime victory in a game that didn't end until the early hours of Thursday morning.

Of the last four teams to win a triple-overtime game, just one -- the Anaheim Ducks against Detroit in 2009 -- were able to win the next game. Before this spring, the last three teams to win in triple overtime wound up losing the series.

The win gave the Caps a 3-0 record this spring in the game after an overtime loss. Since 2010, they are 7-3 in the game after an overtime game.

Playing tight -- The Capitals continue to play on the edge. Saturday's game was the 10th in 11 playoff contests to be decided by a single goal (the other was a 3-1 loss to the Rangers in Game 1).

Another indication of how close Washington's games have been: The Caps have been tied after the second period eight times in 11 games -- they've led in the other three and haven't trailed after 40 minutes. Washington is 3-5 in those eight games, though they did beat the Rangers on Saturday in a game that was tied 2-2 after two periods.

Who needs faceoffs?
-- Yes, it's a small sample size -- less than a month of playoffs, rather than a full 82-game season. But the ability to win faceoffs hasn't had much to do with success this spring.

With the playoffs now 62 games old, the three weakest teams in the circle -- Los Angeles (47.6 percent), the Rangers (47.0) and New Jersey (46.4) -- are still going strong. The three teams with the best percentages, Florida (54.4 percent), Ottawa (54.4) and Pittsburgh (51.9) didn't make it out of the first round.

The Kings (51.5 percent during the regular season) and Rangers (50.0 percent) may be having temporary slumps. The Devils' problems are something else -- New Jersey was 29th in the faceoff circle during the regular season at 47.1 percent and was the only one of the six teams that won less than 48 percent of its draws to make the playoffs.
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