NEW YORK, NY - MAY 8: Derek Stepan #21 of the New York Rangers celebrates his third period goal against the Washington Capitals in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on May 8, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images)

Ovechkin: Capitals’ top line has to play better


The Washington Capitals have squandered a 2-0 series lead and the New York Rangers seem to have gained some momentum. After being limited to just one goal in their first two games, New York has beaten goaltender Braden Holtby eight times to even the series.

Still, neither team has won on the road yet, and unless the Rangers can do that, Washington will take this series.

“We’ll go home and play against them with our fans, in our building,” Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin told the media, “so it’s going to be much, I hope, much better for us.”

It’s worth noting that both of these teams were strong at home during the regular season, but mediocre on the road.

Ovechkin was also asked what the Rangers have been doing to limit him to just a goal and an assist in four games.

“I think our line have to play better,” Ovechkin answered.

Going into this series, Ovechkin was on a tear with 22 goals in 21 games.

You can watch Ovechkin’s full postgame press conference below:

After healthy scratch, Severson vows to play ‘next 80 games’

Jimmy Hayes, Damon Severson
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Damon Severson was a healthy scratch on Saturday.

It’s the last game he wants to miss this season.

“I had a good chat with a few people and just pretty much said, ‘I want to be in the next 80 games,’” Severson said, per The Record. “I sat out my game and that’s all I want to be out for for the year.”

Severson is one of the Devils’ most important young players. But this is also the 21-year-old defenseman’s sophomore season, and that’s when slumps can occur.

Hence, the early message he was sent by the coaching staff.

Severson is expected to be back in the lineup tonight when New Jersey hosts Nashville.

“He doesn’t have to be perfect,” coach John Hynes told reporters. “We’d just like to see him have a high compete level. We know he’s ready to go. We had a couple of good meetings with him. He’s in a good spot mentally. I know he’s ready to roll.”

Virtanen to make NHL debut tonight versus Kings

Jake Virtanen
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Jake Virtanen, the sixth overall pick in the 2014 draft, will make his NHL debut tonight when his Canucks meet the Kings in Los Angeles.

The 19-year-old winger was a healthy scratch for Vancouver’s first three games of the regular season. He had two goals and two assists in six preseason games.

“I can’t wait,” he told reporters. “My energy is high. I want to get a couple of hits on my first shift.”

Big and physical with goal-scoring ability, the consensus is that Virtanen will remain in the NHL and not be returned to junior after he’s played nine games. That consensus could always change based on his play, of course.

The Canucks — who won last night in Anaheim — did not have a full skate this morning, so it’s unclear who will come out of the lineup. The best guess is rookie Jared McCann, who’s been playing third-line center.

If McCann does come out, the Canucks could move Brandon Sutter to third-line center and Virtanen could take Sutter’s spot on the first line with the Sedin twins. Or, there could be more extensive line juggling.