The Washington Capitals Thursday tried a two-pronged approach to recovering from a pair of losses to the Rangers in their first-round playoff series that continues with Friday night's Game 5 at the Verizon Center.
First, patience: Coach Adam Oates gave frustrated star Alex Ovechkin (one goal, one assist in four games in the 2-2 series) a pat on the back with a private chat before the team's workout in Arlington, Va.
"I think he's been playing great hockey for a few months and that's well-documented," Oates told reporters. "And I talked to him today just about you know what, he's played good. Continue to play good. They're a good team over there, too. It's playoff hockey. Sometimes that happens -- you don't get a point for a game or two and then all of a sudden you go on a four-game streak. To me, his job is just to continue to play good. That's it."
Second, urgency: Washington called up 19-year-old prospect Tom Wilson from AHL Hershey and put him on their fourth line in practice. The 6-4, 210-pound Wilson, a first-round pick (16th overall) in 2012, could make his NHL debut Friday night as the Caps look for ways to unleash their powerful offense against the Rangers' shot-blocking and tight-playing defense.
"Our line has to create chances," said Ovechkin, the NHL's leading goal-scorer in the regular season with 32 who Thursday was named one of the three finalists for the Ted Lindsay award (given annually to the most outstanding player as voted by members of the NHLPA) along with Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby and Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis.
"Last game I don't think we created lots of opportunities for our line," Ovechkin said. "Backy, me and JoJo have to play better. We have the most minutes on the ice and we have to at least have like 10 shots on net. Everybody. Of course they have a good 'D', but if we have full speed it's pretty hard to stop me or JoJo or Backy, especially one-on-one."
Oates wouldn't put all of the blame on Ovechkin and his pals for the Capitals' defeats at the Garden.
"Everybody can do things better, make better decisions," he said. "And they're not different. You've got to give [the Rangers] credit. They beat us in their barn. We're back home. We've been focusing on one game and that hasn't changed. We've got a big game in our barn."
It could be the first game for Wilson, especially with Martin Erat out for Game 5 with a wrist or arm injury suffered in Game 4.
Wilson had nine goals and eight assists in 12 OHL playoff games and then had a goal in three postseason contests with Hershey before the Bears were eliminated on Wednesday by London. He had 23 goals and 35 assists in the regular season with Plymouth.