- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 18, 2010

There’s a saying in hockey that any shot late in regulation or in overtime is a good one. A pair of Capitals took the lesson to heart Saturday after passing up good opportunities in Washington’s series-opening loss Thursday.

During Game 1, both John Carlson and Nicklas Backstrom had chances to be heroes, but both passed up shot opportunities and the Capitals eventually lost to Montreal in overtime.

Two days later in Game 2, the two young Caps both took their shots on net late in the third period and overtime, and it paid off handsomely for Washington.

Caps coach Bruce Boudreau said he was happy his players decided to shoot the second time around, saying they were “too cute” with the puck in Game 1.

Carlson had a chance late in regulation Thursday on a 2-on-1 break, but his pass to Boyd Gordon didn’t connect. Saturday, he took a pass from Backstrom and fired a shot with 1:21 left in regulation — resulting in a goal that forced overtime and answered a late Montreal tally.

It wasn’t even Carlson’s biggest goal of 2010, as he scored the gold-medal-winning goal for the United States in overtime at the World Junior Championship in January.

“There’s just something about him — I mean, glory follows him,” Boudreau said. “Some guys get that. I’ve said it before. They come up in the ninth inning with the bases loaded, and they’re the ones that do the damage. I think John Carlson in his career is going to be like that.”

Backstrom had his chance in overtime Thursday, getting a good look at Montreal netminder Jaroslav Halak but holding the puck and not putting a shot on net.

Faced with another good scoring chance in the opening minute of Saturday’s extra session, Backstrom fired and scored, capping his first NHL hat trick.

“[I was] a little bit [surprised it went in], but if you are going to score, you have to shoot, right?” Backstrom said at the podium. “I was trying to get it on the net, and I was lucky it went in.”