- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 21, 2009

NEW YORK | Michael Nylander was a critical component of the New York Rangers the last time he came to Madison Square Garden for a Stanley Cup playoff game.

This time around he was reduced to being a spectator.

Nylander was a healthy scratch for the Washington Capitals in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series. Donald Brashear replaced Nylander in the lineup, while David Steckel slid into his place on the third line between Tomas Fleischmann and Eric Fehr.

That trio didn’t provide much offense for the Caps as they fell behind 2-0 in the best-of-seven series. Nylander played less than 19 minutes in the two games combined and didn’t register a shot on net.

It is another setback in a trying season for the 36-year-old. Nylander had nine goals and 33 points in 72 regular-season games, which is his lowest goal total in a year in which he played more than 33 games. The 33 points matched a career low from 1990-91 - his rookie season with the Hartford Whalers.

Before rejoining the Caps last season as a free agent, Nylander spent two seasons with the Rangers and was the team’s No. 1 center on a line with Jaromir Jagr. In the 2007 playoffs, Nylander had six goals and 13 points in 10 games, including the last postseason hat trick in team history.

“I talk to [goalie Henrik] Lundqvist every now and then, but that’s pretty much it,” Nylander said. “New York is a great place to play. It is an amazing building with great fans. I have nothing but good things to say about my time there.”

Drama for No. 8

This wasn’t the first time Alex Ovechkin decided to wander out to the bench for the opposing team’s morning skate, but it was the first time it caused such a stir.

Ovechkin sat on the visiting bench for a few minutes but was quickly told he was not allowed to be there.

“I think it was more of him not knowing the rules,” Caps coach Bruce Boudreau said. “They asked him to leave, and he left. I don’t think he was with a pen and paper and writing down line combinations or anything, but I can understand. I’ve gone through the same argument when I have wanted privacy at my practice.”

The Russian superstar certainly didn’t sound like a guy who just misunderstood the rules after Washington’s morning skate.

“I just [wanted Rangers coach John Tortorella to get] pissed off, and he was,” Ovechkin said with a smile. When asked why he thought he was excused from the Rangers’ skate, he responded, “Because they’re afraid of me.”

Still no Schultz

Defenseman Jeff Schultz did not participate in the morning skate, and he missed his second straight game with what Boudreau called an upper-body injury. Schultz did travel with the team to New York, and he was riding a stationary bike for much of the team’s morning workout.

Boudreau said he has “no idea” when Schultz might be able to return. Chris Clark was the team’s other healthy scratch.

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