WASHINGTON – Alex Ovechkin rebounded from a rare zero-shot performance by scoring after 1:28 Wednesday night, Braden Holtby made 30 saves and the Washington Capitals recovered from a potentially devastating loss by beating the top-seeded New York Rangers 2-1 to force a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Two nights after blowing a lead in the last 10 seconds of regulation and losing in overtime, the No. 7-seeded Capitals showed immediately they were over it. Ovechkin’s early power-play goal and Jason Chimera’s second-period score were just enough for the unflappable playoff rookie Holtby.

The teams meet in New York on Saturday night to determine who will face the New Jersey Devils in the conference finals.

With his mom covering her eyes in the stands, Holtby made only one error, and it came with 50.5 seconds left — a goal that was credited to Marian Gaborik, and deflected off a skate and someone in a scrum in the crease.

Ovechkin’s reduced role became a major talking point throughout these playoffs: Usually a 20-minute-a-game guy, he played as few as 131/2 minutes in Game 2 against New York. He also came up quiet in Game 5 on Monday night, with no shots on goal, only the second time in 49 career playoff games that had happened.

That 3-2 victory for the Rangers was the sort of setback that can be tough to set aside. New York scored one power-play goal to tie it with 7.6 seconds left in the third period, and another to win it about 11/2 minutes into overtime.

The Capitals staved off elimination and are proving to be quite adept at bouncing back. They’re 4-0 in games immediately after overtime losses in these playoffs; they haven’t lost consecutive games since March 22-23; and Holtby is 6-0 after any defeat this postseason, his first in the NHL.


Center Saku Koivu re-signed with the Anaheim Ducks, agreeing to a one-year deal worth $3 million to return for his 17th NHL season. Koivu, 37, scored 38 points in 74 games for the Ducks last season, his third in Anaheim. The former captain of the Montreal Canadiens is a valuable two-way player for the Ducks while centering a line with Teemu Selanne, his friend and longtime teammate with the Finnish national team. Koivu spent his first 13 NHL seasons in Montreal before joining the Ducks as a free agent. He played in his 1,000th career NHL game March 12, becoming just the fifth Finnish player to reach the milestone. Selanne hasn’t announced whether he’ll return next season. … The NHL board of governors approved the sale of the St. Louis Blues to a group headed by St. Louis beer distributor Tom Stillman. The sale price wasn’t disclosed but is believed to be about $130 million.