- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 21, 2009

NEW YORK | The buzzword after the Washington Capitals got back into their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series Monday with a thorough 4-0 win against the New York Rangers was discipline, and it carried multiple meanings.

In building their lead, the Caps showed restraint when it came to the antics of Rangers wing Sean Avery.

“I know the way he plays, and he’s a little agitator out there,” defenseman John Erskine said. “But if you stay disciplined, he’ll take penalties, and that’s what happened tonight.”

With their advantage at 3-0 entering the third period, the Caps exhibited defensive effort that never allowed the Rangers back into the game.

“That’s the way you have to do it,” defenseman Shaone Morrisonn said. “They did it the other night [in Game 2].”

Combined, it showed some of the Caps’ younger players what needs to be done to succeed in the playoffs.

“As a group, we’re beginning to understand the sacrifices you need to make,” veteran defenseman Brian Pothier said. “If you get punched in the chin, what you want to do more than anything is retaliate, but you absolutely cannot do it. Tonight we did all the little things like that, and it helped us on the power play.”

Erskine and goalie Simeon Varlamov didn’t react when slugged by Avery, who was penalized both times. Avery played 16 minutes and earned 18 penalty minutes.

By the time of Avery’s second roughing penalty (with 2:48 remaining), the game was well in hand thanks to a Caps defense that allowed 12 third-period shots but few scoring chances even though the Rangers were pushing their blueliners into the play and buzzing around Varlamov.

The Caps even dumped the puck into the neutral zone when they had the chance for odd-man rushes - another sign of discipline.

“We knew they were going to come hard at us, and their defense would be jumping up into the play,” Erskine said. “We had to not so much back off but play disciplined and take care of things in our own end.”

Said Pothier: “Mike Green was fabulous tonight at doing that - he kept his shifts short and didn’t jump when he didn’t need to. We had the goals we needed, and he did a great job. The rest of the guys understood what we had to do to hold that lead.”

Added Morrisonn: “You have to make the simple play. You try to put everything hard out of the zone, and everybody committed defensively and kept the third man high. We did a good job at that because they were coming hard, and our goalie played great.”

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