'Casual Mike' gives Caps 2-0 series lead

'Casual Mike' gives Caps 2-0 series lead
May 4, 2013, 6:00 pm
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With more than 18,000 fans on their feet and screaming for him to shoot the puck, Mike Green listened.

Or maybe he just let his eyes do all the work.

With the Capitals on the power play because of a delay of game penalty to defenseman Ryan McDonagh, Mike Ribeiro faked a shot and fed the puck to Green in the high slot.

Karl Alzner said a game’s outcome could not have been placed in better hands.

“When it gets into overtime and guys get the shakes a little bit, he’s still calm Mike Green,” Alzner said. “That’s why we call him Casual Mike.”

Green said he simply wanted to get the puck in on Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.

“[Ribeiro] does such a great job drawing guys to him and obviously they are on Ovi, so I just happened to be open and my goal was to get it by the first guy and try to hit the net.”

Oh, he hit the net all right, and the VerizonCenter exploded in ecstasy as the Capitals streamed from the bench to congratulate themselves on a 1-0 overtime victory that gives them a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

This is common ground for the Capitals. It is also shaky ground. Nine times in their playoff history they have taken a 2-0 series lead. Five times they have blown that lead and lost the series.

“It means we won our home games, that’s all it means,” said Caps right wing Eric Fehr, who helped kill three Rangers power plays and finished with six hits and one key block in overtime. “We know it will be a lot tougher in their rink.

“They’re a different team in their rink. They like to run around and really hit guys and intimate guys and it’s going to be important for us to not get frustrated and join in the scrums after the whistle.”

Saturday’s game came down to a pair of delay of game penalties. The Caps were guilty of one 1:51 into the extra period when Steve Oleksy inadvertently lifted the puck out of the rink.

The Caps did not allow a shot on that Rangers’ power play, which New York coach John Tortorella described as “too stagnant, we were almost paralyzed.”

The Caps controlled play throughout the remainder of the overtime period, outshooting the Rangers 8-0 and forcing Tortorella to call a timeout just before McDonagh took his delay of game penalty, setting the stage for Green’s game-winner.

“We need him to have the poise back there at a key moment,” Capitals coach Adam Oates said of Green, who now has eight overtime game winners in his career, but just one in the playoffs. “It’s a big power play, the place is going crazy, there’s electricity and you need guys out there who are calm and that’s one of his gifts.”