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Optimistic Capitals disregard past Game 7 failures

by Katie Brown /

ARLINGTON, Va. -- For the third time since drafting captain Alex Ovechkin in 2004, the Washington Capitals are one win away from advancing to the Eastern Conference Final.

And for the third time in four years and the fourth time since 2009, the Capitals will play the New York Rangers in a Game 7. The Rangers have defeated the Capitals in the past two Game 7s they have played, in the 2012 Eastern Conference Semifinals and in the 2013 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Second Round between the Capitals and Rangers is at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

"People go all through their life looking for great moments where you can define yourself or your team or what you did that year," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "This is another moment. We had that moment, a Game 7 in the first series, and here's another moment. These are things you go through."

Once leading 3-1 in the best-of-7 series, the Capitals were unsuccessful on their first two attempts to eliminate the Rangers, losing Games 5 and 6. The Rangers trailed the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 in the second round in 2014 and could be the first team to overcome that lead in consecutive years if they win Wednesday.

"Everybody was saying, it's gonna be a long seven-game series," Trotz said. "So you got what you wanted. It doesn't really matter how we got there. It's two really good teams that are playing in a seven-game series."

Washington has played one Game 7 this postseason, against the New York Islanders.

It will be the fourth time Washington has had to play a Game 7 on the road; the Capitals are 4-9 in Game 7s, 1-2 on the road.

"It's not so important to change people's minds about that kind of stuff," defenseman Karl Alzner said. "What's important is just winning. We don't care about what people think of us or the team or anything like that. We know what we are and what we can do."

If they want to win, the Capitals know everyone has to contribute, especially their best players. So far, three of Washington's highest-paid players have combined for four points during the series.

Ovechkin has three points in six games, but no goals in the past five. Forward Nicklas Backstrom has been held without a goal for nine games and has one point in five games, and defenseman Mike Green has gone 10 games without a point.

All three will play in the ninth Game 7 of their NHL career Wednesday.

Expectations are high for Ovechkin, who hasn't scored a goal in his past five Game 7s and has five Game 7 points. Backstrom has no points in his past six and Green has one point through eight Game 7s.

Ovechkin shrugged off the idea that the outcome of the game depends on him or any one player.

"I think right now it's not about the one person," Ovechkin said. "It's about the group of guys that's gonna be out there. Everybody can make a difference … because we play in different positions, different lines, everybody can pull the line and be better."

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