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Getting off to a great start

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Sports,Capitals,Brian McNally

Green scores in OT as Caps take 2-0 lead

They had been stoned time and again by New York Rangers star goalie Henrik Lundqvist. For a long while, it just did not seem like the Capitals' day in Saturday's first-round Stanley Cup playoff game at Verizon Center.

But when the power play stepped onto the ice with the game on the line, confidence radiated off the bench and through the sellout crowd. The NHL's best unit was ready to go to work. It took all of 51 seconds for center Mike Ribeiro to fake two Rangers to the ice and find defenseman Mike Green with a pass. His blast found the back of the net for the overtime game-winning goal, which lifted Washington to a thrilling 1-0 victory.

The Caps have now taken the first two games of this best-of-seven series and head to New York on Monday night for Game 3 with a 2-0 series lead. It is the fourth time in five years the two teams have met in the postseason.

"I was giddy like a kid," Green said. "Any time, especially in overtime, it's a good chance to score."

Washington finally solved Lundqvist, who finished with 37 saves in goal for New York. But it took the work of the penalty killers early in overtime to allow for Green's heroics. The Rangers went up a man when defenseman Steve Oleksy sent a puck over the glass for a delay-of-game penalty. But they couldn't muster a shot on Caps goalie Braden Holtby, who finished with 24 saves in his first postseason shutout.

Washington forward Eric Fehr actually had the best scoring chance of that New York power play before defenseman Michael Del Zotto slid to knock the puck away at the last second. Fehr also had a critical block late in the power play. He lay on the ice with the puck under him and several Rangers spearing at him to free it. But the whistle blew and the Caps were soon back at full strength.

"Our penalty kill did such a good job and we gave ourselves an opportunity to have a good two-minute power play in overtime," Fehr said. "And with those skill guys, they watch enough video they can pick things apart."

That's exactly what happened after Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh took his own delay-of-game penalty. Ribeiro faked a slap shot from the top of the right circle. New York forward Ryan Callahan slid to the ice and teammate John Moore dropped to a knee.

But Ribeiro didn't shoot. Instead, he slid the puck to Green in the high slot and -- with plenty of time and space -- his hard, low shot deflected off the stick of New York forward Derek Stepan and past Lundqvist exactly eight minutes into overtime.

"It's a reason I don't want Mike to try too hard to be a scorer during the game, because we need him to have the poise back there at a key moment," Caps coach Adam Oates said. "It's a big power play, the place is going crazy. You need guys out there that are calm and that's one of his gifts."

bmcnally@washingtonexaminer.com

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