Nicklas Backstrom saved the season for the Washington Capitals after the President's Cup winner fell behind 1-0 in the first round series against the Montreal Canadiens and then 4-1 in the 3rd period of game two. Backstrom's hat trick, with the final goal scored just 30 seconds into overtime, delivered game two of the series 6-5 to the Capitals on their home ice, sending a partisan crowd into a delirious frenzy.
The Canadiens jumped out to a 2-0 lead on their first two shots of the game, leading Caps coach Bruce Boudreau to discard his pledge that goalie Jose Theodore would not be on a short leash. Reserve Semyon Varlamov, a hero of last year's playoffs when he replaced Theodore in goal after just one game, once again stepped into goal to save the day. Varlamov was nothing special, though, giving up 3 goals. It was Washington's offense, that couldn't find the back of the net often enough on Thursday night, that came to the rescue, as it so often did during the triumphant regular season.
Reigning MVP Alex Ovechkin finally awoke from his slumber to score a goal and three assists, as well as delivering several sharp his on his Montreal counterparts. Ovie was aggressive from the start, coming out hitting and shooting without delay. The Caps fell behind quickly, though, and were playing from behind for almost the entire game until rookie defenseman John Carlson tied the game at 5 with less than 90 seconds left in regulation. It was only Carlson's second goal in the NHL.
Game 3 at the Bell Center in Montreal will be played Monday night.
PHOTO: Nick Wass/AP Photo