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Ovechkin keeps Capitals alive; Washington star helps force a Game Seven

WASHINGTON -- Lose one game, win the next.

No matter how seemingly devastating a defeat, in overtime or otherwise, the Washington Capitals -- from two-time NHL MVP Alex Ovechkin to playoff rookie goalie Braden Holtby -- simply do not allow setbacks to bother them.

They regroup, get back out there and follow a loss with a victory, each time by the slimmest of margins.

Ovechkin rebounded from a rare zero-shot performance by scoring after 88 seconds Wednesday night, Holtby made 30 saves, and the Capitals recovered the way they always seem to, beating the top-seeded New York Rangers 2-1 to force a Game Seven in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

"We're resilient," Washington defenseman Karl Alzner said. "We have that thick skin. We know when to battle back when we need to and have to."

Never moreso than after Game Five on Monday night, when No. 7-seeded Washington managed to blow a lead in the last 10 seconds of regulation. New York scored a power-play goal with 7.6 seconds left in the third period to tie it, and another 1 1/2 minutes into overtime to win it.

The Capitals could have folded. Instead, they staved off elimination, and the teams will meet in New York on Saturday night to determine who will face the New Jersey Devils in the conference finals.

"It's where we want to be," Holtby said. "We didn't expect a short series."

He improved to 6-0 in games immediately after losses this postseason.

That's why the Capitals are 4-0 in games that follow overtime losses in the playoffs. One other bit of proof that they know how to bounce back: They haven't lost consecutive games since March 22-23.

"Everyone, I think, counted us out," said Jason Chimera, who scored in the second period to make it 2-0, Washington's second two-goal lead of the series. "This is the way we are. We don't really crack."

Ovechkin's reduced role became a major talking point throughout these playoffs: Usually a 20-minute-a-game guy, he played as few as 13 1/2 minutes in Game Two against New York. He also came up quiet in Game Five on Monday night, with no shots on goal, only the second time in 49 career playoff games that had happened to the man they call Alex the Great.

Before Wednesday's game, Ovechkin told reporters: "We just can't go home right now."

He helped make sure they didn't.

About 1 1/2 minutes after the opening faceoff, Ovechkin dropped to a knee as he powered a slap shot just inside the right post from about 30 feet in front of goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

It was Ovechkin's 30th career playoff goal, tying the franchise record held by Peter Bondra, and came 15 seconds after Rangers defenseman Anton Stralman was sent to the penalty box for tripping Chimera.

That early edge proved to be a good omen for the Capitals, who are 7-1 this postseason when scoring first -- and 0-5 when their opponent scores first. In this series, all six games were won by whichever team led 1-0.

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