ARLINGTON, Va. – Alex Ovechkin shrugged his shoulders while offering his take on the suspension that will keep center Nicklas Backstrom out of Washington’s lineup tonight for Game 4 of its NHL playoff series against Boston.

“Sometimes you think it’s (the) right decision. Sometimes it’s not. Sometimes you want to laugh,” the two-time league MVP and Capitals captain said. “So right now I think it’s kind of (a) bad decision. But there is nothing you can do.”

Well, trailing the defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins 2-1 heading into a game the Capitals “have to win,” to use Ovechkin’s phrase, seventh-seeded Washington did set about trying to win the off-ice word games Wednesday.

There was the front office’s statement that it doesn’t understand the league’s punishment of Backstrom. There were forward Jason Chimera’s declarations that Washington’s players aren’t wimps, that Boston embellishes fouls, and that Bruins goalie Tim Thomas should have been banned for a game for using his blocker to hit Backstrom in the face in Game 2. And there were Coach Dale Hunter’s criticism of the officiating and a reference to his earlier charge that the Bruins targeted the head of Backstrom, who returned to the lineup March 31 after missing 40 games because of a concussion.

Then again, the strongest statements of all came from Boston Coach Claude Julien, who was asked to respond to Hunter’s comments.

“That doesn’t make sense. I don’t know any coach that would tell his team to go after somebody’s head,” Julien said. “It’s ludicrous; it’s ridiculous. OK?”

Julien then referred to Backstrom’s stick-in-the-face match penalty as the third cross-check by the Capitals during the series, and added: “But we’re not whining about the referees and what’s going on here. We need to win a game and we need to win a series and that’s where our focus is on. That’s what it should be.”


PENGUINS 10, FLYERS 3: Pushed to the brink of a sweep, Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal pushed back with a vengeance, helping the Penguins score nine goals in the first two periods in Philadelphia.

Staal had a hat trick, Malkin scored his first two goals of the series and Crosby added one to help the Penguins cut the series deficit to 3-1. Game 5 is Friday in Pittsburgh.

Marc-Andre Fleury settled down after a shaky first period and had his best game of the series, easily outplaying counterpart Ilya Bryzgalov.

The Flyers led 3-2 when the Penguins reeled off seven straight goals to win the most lopsided game of the series.

SENATORS 3, RANGERS 2: Kyle Turris scored at 2:42 of overtime to give Ottawa a win at home, tying the Eastern Conference series at two games apiece.

Milan Michalek and Sergei Gonchar scored in the second period for the Senators to erase a 2-0 deficit, and Craig Anderson stopped 31 shots.

Anton Stralman and Ryan Callahan had power-plays goals early in the first period for the Rangers. Henrik Lundqvist made 28 saves.

Both teams had great opportunities to take the lead in the third period. Ottawa created a flurry of chances in the final minute but was unable to beat Lundqvist. New York’s best opportunity came with just over five minutes remaining when Nick Foligno was called for tripping, but the Senators killed the penalty.


Coyotes forward Raffi Torres was suspended indefinitely for a hit that knocked Chicago’s Marian Hossa out of Game 3 in the teams’ opening-round playoff series. Torres faces a Friday hearing with NHL officials in New York. The hearing was planned for Wednesday but was deferred at the request of the player and NHL Players’ Association. Hossa was carried off the ice on a stretcher in the first period Tuesday night after Torres hit him with his shoulder and drove him to the ice. He was briefly hospitalized. The team has not said if Hossa, who led the Blackhawks with 77 points this season, will return this season. Phoenix leads the series 2-1 with Game 4 in Chicago tonight.