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Washington Capitals-New York Rangers: Round One, Game Three Preview

NEW YORK - APRIL 20:  Simeon Varlamov #40 and Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals confer during their game against the New York Rangers in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Round of the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on April 20, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Dave NicholsSenior Analyst IApril 22, 2009
The Washington Capitals, fresh off a 4-0 shutout of the New York Rangers in Game Three of the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, look to play a carbon copy in Game Four tonight at 7:00 p.m. from the fabled Madison Square Garden.

THE NEW IRON CURTAIN

Twenty-year old rookie goaltender Simeon Varlamov shut down and shut out the relatively feeble Ranger attack in Game Three, making 33 saves, controlling rebounds and deflecting pucks to the corners, and not allowing troublemaker Sean Avery to disrupt his concentration in front of the Washington goal.
Perhaps knowing very little English is a bonus in that regard.

"You don't have a conversation with your goalie out there too often," defenseman Shaone Morrisonn said.

The Rangers have gone a combined 112 minutes, 16 seconds without a goal in Games Two and Three, started by Varlamov.

GETTING THE BIG GUNS GOING

While not completely silent, the Caps' two biggest names, Alex Ovechkin and Mike Green, have been kept fairly well in check this series so far.

Ovechkin, the league's regular season goals leader, has no goals and four assists in three games, while Green, only the seventh defenseman in NHL history to record a 30-goal season, has just two helpers in the series.

This season, the Caps were 31-5-4 when Ovechkin scored and just 18-17-4 when he failed to get a goal. When Green scored this season the team was 19-4-3.

Ovechkin has 24 shots in the three games, an average of 8.0 per game, up from his season average of 6.68. Green, however, is down, with nine shots total (average of 3.0), compared to his season average of 3.57 shots per game.

Getting these two on track in Game Four would go a long way in evening the series.

AVERY BIG PAIN IN THE CREASE

Is Sean Avery, New York's resident bad boy, helping or hurting his team at this point?

Avery took four minor penalties and a game misconduct in Game Three. One of his penalties negated a Rangers' power play and another led to a Washington power play goal.

What's more, the Caps aren't getting rattled by his nonsense. Avery threw punches at both John Erskine and Simeon Varlamov and neither were met with retaliatory swings. The Caps were perfectly happy with Avery skating off the ice and taking their retaliation by having the extra man for two minutes.

For the series, Avery is pointless with a minus-one rating, 10 shots on goal and 20 minutes in penalties.

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