Ovechkin rescues Capitals with game-winner

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Ovechkin rescues Capitals with game-winner

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- Alex Ovechkin silenced the Madison Square Garden crowd that had been taunting him for two games. If he can fire up the fans back at home, too, the Washington Capitals could be in store for a deep run in the NHL playoffs. Ovechkin scored a power-play goal with 7:27 remaining to end a tie and give the Capitals a 3-2 victory over the New York Rangers that squared the Eastern Conference semifinal series 1-1 on Monday. Just under 6 minutes after Ryan Callahan got the Rangers even with a power-play goal, Ovechkin put the Capitals ahead for good after they squandered a 2-0 lead. Whether Ovechkin heard the derisive chants that greeted him every time there were 8 minutes left -- matching his uniform number -- in each period or not, they certainly didn't knock him off his game. Despite diminished minutes in the playoffs, Ovechkin is still every bit as dangerous during crunch time. "Ovi is a team guy and he is cheering his guys on," Capitals coach Dale Hunter said. "He knows what these guys are going through at the end of the game. They've got to go out and slide and block shots. He appreciates that. "The one thing is that he has been real fresh for the power play." Ovechkin struck off a clean faceoff win by Nicklas Backstrom, firing a shot from inside the blue line past Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist. "First I saw it, then I didn't see it, and then I saw it," Lundqvist said. "It was a hard shot. It was a good shot. Unfortunately, someone got tied up and he got a free lane. It's the wrong guy to get that opportunity." Ovechkin was also surprised to find room to maneuver. "Nicky wins the faceoff, and I kind of turned and felt like I was going to have some pressure," he said, "but when I turned, I saw that nobody came to me."

Blakely: This could be the start of something big for Celtics

Blakely: This could be the start of something big for Celtics

BOSTON -- Prior to this year, the Celtics hadn't been to the Eastern Conference finals since 2012. That trip served as a curtain call of sorts for the last great C's dynasty.
 
But this one, which ended with Cleveland's emphatic 135-102 Game 5 victory Thursday at TD Garden, is very different.
 
Rather than closing another chapter in the Celtics' longstanding legacy of greatness, it could serve as the beginning of a new narrative in the franchise's steady growth.
 
"For us to be in the Eastern Conference finals after the first year of this team really being together, adding additions like Al Horford and Gerald Green . . . I can go down the list of guys that we needed to learn to play with, and for us to talk about where we wanted to be and actually make it, it's a big-time accomplishment," said Avery Bradley.
 
Boston has been among the younger teams in the NBA, with the 31-year-old Green being the oldest player on the roster.
 
But what the Celtics lacked in experience, they made up for with great effort.
 
"The great thing about this is the experience," Bradley said. "We were able to go to the Eastern Conference finals, learned a lot about being in this position, and I feel like it's going to help us for next year."
 
But as we all know, the Celtics will look to strengthen themsevles this offseason, which means there's a very good chance they'll have a different look when they gather again in the fall.
 
How different is anyone's guess.
 
"It's difficult every year whenever you don't have guys back," said coach Brad Stevens. "I think you share a bond (over the course of a season)."
 
Stevens and this group have been together for eight months. Eight months of struggles, successes, frustrating defeats and euphoric victories that brought them to the conference finals, which is where their season came to an end.
 
But as disappointed as the players and coaches are inow, there's definite excitement about this franchise in the very near future.
 
Boston has the No. 1 overall pick in next month's draft, with all indications -- for now -- pointing to Washington's Markelle Fultz as their choice.
 
And their top first-round pick from a year ago, Jaylen Brown, seemed to steadily improve as the season progressed. It was one of the few times in his life where minutes weren't just handed to him, which he admits was a learning experience unlike anything he had ever had, yet he adjusted and played better as the year went along.

"I've had ups, I've had downs, I've had opportunities, I've had mistakes," said Brown. "So I've been learning and growing and improving all year and I'm going to continue growing and improving and prove people wrong, prove doubters wrong."
 
Having the season end the way it did has indeed left a bad taste in the mouths of many Celtics.
 
"I can use it as fuel," Brown said, adding: "I want to get back to the same place I'm at now."
 
Bradley, who was on the 2012 team that lost to the Miami Heat in the conference finals, knows the Celtics are going to do whatever they feel is necessary to give them the best chance at competing for a title.
 
"It's out of our control as players," Bradley said. "We had a great year together. If guys are here, if guys aren't, we all wish the best for each other.

"But I do feel this is a special group. We all gave our heart every single night, played as hard as we could. I respect all my teammates, and I really appreciated playing with all the guys I had a chance to play with this year; a special group."