Mike Green’s struggles during the first three games of the Washington Capitals’ series against the New York Rangers were evident. Mistakes just seemed to happen.
That’s not to say Green was a perfect defensive player back in 2009 and 2010 when he was a Norris Trophy finalist, but his offense more than made up for his blunders. That happened again Saturday when he scored the game-winning goal on the power play to give the Caps a 3-2 win and tie up the Eastern Conference semifinal series at two games apiece.
“He’s been wanting to score really bad and I don’t think he scored as much as he’d like to. [He’s been] shooting the puck in, a lot of great chances,” defenseman Karl Alzner said. “It was awesome. I don’t even know if he was trying to necessarily score on that or shoot for a rebound. But it was great that it went in, great timing.”
Any time would be great for Green, who had just one goal since returning from sports hernia surgery in February. For much of that time, his play was strong even though the production wasn’t there.
This one meant a lot.
“Just that I know I can still score at least. It’s been so long,” Green said, deflecting attention. “But yeah, it’s just good to get the win. Bottom line, whether it was me or someone else.”
That it was Green ignited memories of the good old days, when the defenseman popped those kinds of goals all the time,.
“It’s great for him, it’s great to see him score a goal, it gives him some confidence too,” center Nicklas Backstrom said.
Teammates seemed to take particular joy in Green scoring, given how tough of a year it has been for the 26-year-old. He missed time with an ankle injury, and then a groin problem.
Saturday was a culmination of sorts, as he and fellow “Young Guns” Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin all chipped in with goals.
“It’s great to see those guys have a good game, especially Greenie,” goaltender Braden Holtby said. “He’s been working hard and doing all the little things right. To see it rewarded on the stat sheet is huge.”