A day after he made the play that everybody was talking about, Johnny Boychuk was ready to forget about it. As a veteran defenseman, he realizes that in the playoffs, you have to leave behind the good as quickly as you do the bad.
Besides, he said the sweeping motion he made from his knees, knocking the puck away from the National Hockey League's most dangerous goal-scorer at the end of the second period Sunday afternoon, was pretty lucky.
Boychuk was asked if he knew where the puck was when he made that play against Alex Ovechkin during the Islanders' 2-1 overtime win over the Capitals. He said: "No, that was just a play. He did have a nice toe drag. I was out of position and just swung my stick around and got it. When you get up and you see the puck is out of the zone, it's a big relief, especially when there's like two seconds left."
As someone who has played 82 postseason games -- the equivalent of a full regular season -- and has his name on the Stanley Cup, Boychuk recognizes that the next game is always the most important one. This one, at Nassau Coliseum Tuesday night, will be the difference between the Islanders going up 3-1 or heading back to Washington tied 2-2.
"We have to put it behind us and definitely have the same effort in Game 4," he said, adding that the good part about having played a noon game was that it gave him the chance to see more hockey.
"I watched two other games yesterday, but I didn't watch the third because it was at 10:30," he said. "The first round is always the most emotional and physical out of all the rounds. You have to be ready for it because everybody is just pumped to be in the playoffs, to get that chance to be physical and get the crowd into it."
The Capitals saw Game 3 as a missed chance. They knew the Islanders would be pumped for their first postseason home game in their last year at the Coliseum and they believe they didn't respond well enough. "Instead of taking its toll, it's got to be embraced and cherished," coach Barry Trotz said Monday. "We're in enemy territory. Whatever this place seats, they are not cheering for us. I'm pretty sure about that. But it was a great atmosphere. This is what you play for."
Boychuk planned to do what he always does between games: "Just take care of your body and eat right and ice your boo-boos," he said.
The 31-year-old veteran has been impressed with the poise of teammates who are going through this for the first time. He said they have been holding their emotions in check and playing normally -- and he didn't even have to remind them to do it.
Said Boychuk, "They haven't asked too many questions, but if they do, I'll answer them."