Spacek key in shutting down Caps' stars

April, 16, 2010

WASHINGTON -- We chatted with Montreal defenseman Jaroslav Spacek before the game, and he was talking about the challenge of trying to shut down Alex Ovechkin. Well, mission accomplished in Game 1. Ovechkin had zero shots on goal.

"He tried a lot," Spacek said after the game. "If you play a tight game and a tight gap with him, the guys coming back, you've got support so you can stand up on him and not give him many chances. So that was probably the reason he didn't have that many shots."

Spacek was also involved in a crucial play in overtime when he sprawled to deny Nicklas Backstrom a shot or a pass on a 3-on-1.

"I knew that Backstrom is probably one of the best passers they have," the defenseman said. "Just tried to give him the shot and tried to cover the other guys. He tried to maybe wait a little bit too long."

No luck in OT

This comes from ESPN's stats genius, Vincent J. Masi. The Capitals have lost six straight overtime playoff games at home. Their last win in the extra session came in the 1998 Eastern Conference finals, when Todd Krygier scored against the Sabres. The Caps have come back to win five of nine playoff series in which they dropped the first game.

'Rock the Red'

Thursday's Game 1 marked the 57th consecutive sellout at the Verizon Center. We recall being here in the first post-lockout season to see Sidney Crosby and Ovechkin go at it; there were maybe 14,000 people in the building, and at least 4,000 were Pens fans.

Capitals public relations maestro Nate Ewell tells us there was more media attention for Game 1 of this series than for Game 7 of the now-classic Pittsburgh-Washington second-round series last spring. There were so many reporters that the team had to move some to an auxiliary seating area, something that almost never happens before the Stanley Cup finals.

Scott Burnside

ESPN Senior Writer




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