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Capitals claw way into series with big road win

THE Washington Capitals and Calgary Flames put their Stanley Cup ambitions back on track with big wins on Monday while the Boston Bruins pushed the Montreal Canadiens to the brink of elimination.

Alex Ovechkin went a third game without a goal, but earned two assists for the Capitals, who posted a 4-0 victory over the New York Rangers and got back into the Eastern Conference first-round playoff series.

Behind 33 saves from 20-year-old Simeon Varlamov, the Capitals cut the series deficit to 2-1 - after a pair of home losses - and moved into position to level the best-of-seven matchup tonight at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Despite playing only six career NHL games, Varlamov made a surprise start in Game 2, after Jose Theodore was ineffective in the opener.

Ovechkin cut down on his shooting after recording 19 shots in the first two games and having another 17 attempts blocked, and showed off his passing skills. He earned assists on Alexander Semin's two goals in the first period and was on the ice when Brooks Laich added a power-play tally in the second.

Former Rangers defenseman Tom Poti also scored a power-play goal with 1:25 left.

The Rangers, who had the league's best penalty-killing record during the regular season, surrendered two power-play goals, as the Capitals bombarded New York netminder Henrik Lundqvist with 40 shots.

"I'm not going to whine about penalties, we stunk," Rangers coach John Tortorella said.

In Montreal, Michael Ryder scored late in the second period and Tim Thomas made 23 saves to lead the Bruins to a win over the Canadiens and a commanding lead in their first-round playoff series.

Phil Kessel, Shawn Thornton and Chuck Kobasew also scored for Boston, which increased its lead in the Eastern Conference quarterfinal to 3-0 despite the absence of left wing Milan Lucic, who sat out a one-game league suspension.

Ryder, a healthy scratch for all but four of Montreal's 12 playoffs games last season, put Boston ahead 17:21 into the second period.

In Calgary, David Moss scored twice, and Rene Bourque and Eric Nystrom also scored for the Flames, who trail 2-1 in the best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinal series.

Game 4 is tonight in Calgary.

Curtis Glencross had a pair of assists for Calgary, which won for the first time in seven meetings with Chicago.


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