WASHINGTON -- Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin expressed confidence that his team will punch its ticket to the Eastern Conference finals, as the superstar forward guaranteed a victory against the New York Rangers in Game 7 of their second-round series.
"We're going to come back and win the series," Ovechkin told reporters after a 4-3 loss in Game 6 on Sunday night. "We're going to play our game, and we're going to come back and we're going to play Montreal or Tampa."
The Capitals led the series 3-1 heading into Game 5 but have dropped two straight against the Rangers. Ovechkin has not scored in the past four games.Game 7 is Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.
New York surmounted a 3-1 series deficit against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the semifinals last spring en route to its run to the Stanley Cup finals.
Ovechkin's comments, which were less emphatic than those of former Rangers captain Mark Messier's guarantee before Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals back in 1994, were made after the team squandered its second opportunity to close out the series against the Presidents' Trophy-winning Rangers.
The Capitals fell behind 4-1 at Verizon Center before scoring twice in the third period. The Capitals have reached the Eastern Conference finals only twice, and never during Ovechkin's tenure.
On Monday, Capitals coach Barry Trotz said "he's OK with" his star's guarantee.
"I saw that, and that's what leaders do," Trotz said. "I think leaders say, this is what we need to do, this is what we're going to do. I think I have a lot more respect for someone who will be bold enough to say, 'I'm the leader of the hockey team, we're going to go there and give our best game, we're going to win the hockey game.'
"I'd rather have that than a leader go, 'Well, we're going there to lose.' I mean, come on. What do you expect a player to say? I love that."