Alex Ovechkin's shot has been compared to an unstoppable force. And on March 11, Kevin Klein's left forearm felt the force of an Ovechkin shot. The result: a broken bone and a month and a half on the sideline.
But things have come full circle. Klein, out for six weeks, finally took the ice again for the Rangers in Game 1 of the second round Thursday night, and it stood to reason that the defenseman would play the Capitals -- and again would face Ovechkin.
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Klein proved that the best way to match up with an unstoppable force is to be something of an inexhaustible force yourself.
Klein missed nary a beat in his first game back and was one of the Rangers' strongest players in the first period, with two shots on goal and two hits in 5:18. He ended up playing 18:47 with three shots and six hits in the Rangers' last-second 2-1 loss.
"You know it's going to be amped up," Klein said before the game. "[You've] got to be ready to go right from the start, get into it physically. I've played enough games that I know what to expect.''
Klein was a crisp, threatening presence throughout. And the Capitals' first goal came on a gasp-inducing rocket off Ovechkin's stick from the left side -- an unstoppable force.
Klein rattled off the first shot of the game -- a wrister stopped by Braden Holtby at 1:13. His slap shot four minutes later was part of a six-shot barrage against a goalie who had seen only 11 shots total in a Game 7 win over the Islanders on Monday.
Midway through the second period, Klein again went in on Holtby. He seared a shot on net that was nearly jostled in by Derick Brassard, who missed the attempt after getting caught up in Holtby's pads, taking out both the goalie and his net.
With 10 minutes to play in the third, Henrik Lundqvist pushed away a wrap-around attempt but, with Tom Wilson crashing the net and threatening on the rebound, Klein cleared the puck out of the crease to preserve the one-goal deficit and lead the way to Jesper Fast's equalizer at 15:21.
"Ovi shoots it hard. Lots of guys shoot it hard," Klein said before the game. "You're paid to block shots. You do what you can to save goals."
With Steve Zipay