“We look at it, it could very easily be 3-1, us, if we find a way to get one in overtime, hang onto the lead, at least 2-2. So, yeah, it’s a tough position, but we’ve got to remain focused and believe in what we’re capable of in here and believe in each other, and continue with that mindset going forward. They did it to us a couple of years ago and it’s happening more frequently.”
“Obviously it’s a tough position to be in, but it’s funny how things change. You look at that Chicago-Vancouver series. Not to draw from it, but a little bit. They’re down 3-0 and now all of a sudden it’s 3-2 and they get to go back to Chicago, which is a tough building. So we go down and play a great road game and find a way to steal a win and all of a sudden they’ve got to come into our building and beat us. So, not to look too far ahead, but we’ve just got to do that, and if we do then we’ve put ourselves in a pretty good position.”
On the closeness of the series:
“They’ve poured it on on us in some stretches and we’ve poured it on on them in some stretches. Unfortunately, they get a bounce the other night. We had a great period, they had a great period. I mean, it’s been about as close as you can get. We’ve got to find a way to break through. We’ve got to find a way to make a big play at a big time and that’s what’s going to, I think, make a difference.”
On the third-period leads:
“It’s not frustrating, no. A hockey game’s 60 minutes. We score with a minute left in the game we win. They score and it goes overtime. That’s just the way hockey is. It’s a 60-minute game. So anything can happen. I don’t think we can be frustrated. We’ve just got to look ahead and make sure we play with the confidence we’re capable of playing with for 60 minutes rather than 40, and backing off.”
On 3-1 being more possible today:
“Yeah, there’s certainly a lot of examples as close as last year, as close as last night with a team (Chicago) down 3-0, now making it 3-2. I think it’s changed a bit since I started just because the gap has narrowed between an eighth-place team and a first-place team.”
“It’s been very close. Obviously, there’s been overtime games, every game has gone down to the wire. Dubi’s goal. We feel good about how we’ve played and we should feel good about it. Obviously we’d like to be in the lead in the series, but there’s certainly no reason why we shouldn’t feel good and go in there ready for a good battle.”
“I think we need everybody to play their best to have success and maybe when there’s no room for us to turn the other way … you know, there’s no where else for us to go other than winning right now. Hopefully we’ll challenge ourselves to just play our best.
“That’s what we need. The whole year we’ve been pretty good when we were in tough spots, challenged ourselves or been challenged. We’ve stepped up to the plate. So we still have some confidence here. We believe in each other, we believe we can do it. We’re facing a good team and we’re down 3-1 so it looks pretty tough. But we believe we can do it.”
On Capitals trying to jump on the Rangers in the early going:
“Oh we’re going to try to do the same thing. We want to make sure they know we’re there to compete and I think it’s important that we focus on our game. We know what we have to do. Me personally, I know what I have to do, and just focus on my job and not think too much about ‘What if’ or consequences, or what’s going to happen if we win or lose. We just have to focus on what we have to do and really break it down to the first 10 minutes, then for the next 10 minutes and then after that the next 10 minutes.”
“It’s been tight games, no question, and with some luck it could have been a different story. But it is what it is. We’re down 3-1 and we just habe to accept it and I think we all believe in each other and that we can do it. That’s where it starts.”
On getting over Game 4 with a day off the ice Thursday.
“Not so much get over what happened, but physically it was a tough game. I was exhausted. So yesterday I was still tired. Today was a good practice day. So, yeah, I like the extra day. Tomorrow there won’t be any excuses for not being ready and play our absolute best.”
On the late Capitals surges in games:
“You have to realize in the playoffs you’re playing good teams. They’re a good team, and sometimes during the year, maybe you can make a mistake and still get away with it. But playing a team with so much skill up front, if you make mistakes there’s a big chance they make you pay for it. So that’s a big thing. You have to almost play perfect. And you have to play really hard.”
“Like i said, it is what it is. You’re hoping to get that win (in Game 4) and be tied right now. But there’s no point in looking back. We just have to get ready for tomorrow. I look forward to it.”
Do elimination games feel different?
“It can be. It depends how you, I mean, you can put yourself in a tough spot, but you can also angle it and make sure you just enjoy it and see it as a great challenge. I think the whole playoffs, the key is to just be in a good place mentally. It is a lot more pressure and more expectations, and you’re more excited and more nervous. So the mental part is huge. Playing in an elimination game, I think the mental part weighs even more.”
On 3-1 being different now than it was years ago:
“Yeah. I think you’re going to see even more moving forward. You see what happened last year, and this year, teams … it can change so fast because the difference between teams is so small. Maybe in the past, if you had a 3-1 lead, it usually meant the other team was a lot better. I don’t think that’s the case any more. It’s more about finding ways to win games. This series has been very tight. It could have been a different story here with some luck or whatever. Yeah, nothing is impossible anymore and we definitely see this as a possible, achievable test.”
Did he think “That’s us” when he watched Chicago close the series to 3-2 after going down 3-0 to Vancouver:
“I mean, it just shows that it can change really fast. In the first three games it looked like Vancouver, looked like the best team in the playoffs. Then it turns so fast. A lot of it is mental. It’s how you think, how you approach it, how you focus, how much pressure you put on yourself. Again, especially in the playoffs, it’s a constant battle with your brain, I think. You just try to see everything in a positive way so it benefits you.”
So who’s winning, him or his brain?
(Laughs out loud) “I don’t know yet. We’ll see. We’ll see.”
“It is the toughest part, when you add more pressure and more excitement, because your brain is working a lot more.”
On how much he’s grown in the mental department, from the shootout loss in Game 82 last year, through this season and these playoffs so far:
“Yeah, I feel like … I mean, I don’t want to say … it’s not like you solve anything and figure it out. You try just to grow and to learn from the past and experience. And every year’s different. I said all along, I have pretty much the same feeling now as I had when I was 22 — excited. Maybe better to control your emotions and stay cool, try to stay cool.”
“I try to do the same thing (to prepare) as I’ve done the last couple of months. You’re just maybe a little more excited because it’s do or die here.”
Does a team lose some of the pressure when it loses its third game in a series?
“I don’t know. I think every year, every series is different. It depends on how you get there and how you’re playing. I mean, I can’t really say the pressure’s off. We have to win, or else we’re out. So we still have pressure. But knowing that if we win tomorrow, I know they’re going to have a lot of pressure coming back to New York. So that’s exciting. Like I say, you try to twist everything so it benefits you, it motivates you to, ‘OK, let’s just go in and focus on this game and if we win that one …’”
Is there pressure on the Capitals to prove they can close out a series?
“I don’t know. I’m just going to focus on us. I don’t know how they feel. I don’t really care, either. I don’t know. You’ll have to ask them.”