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'Turning point': Capitals needed players-only meeting, Rangers used trades to head to playoffs

  • 13df97ad9e65a00e300f6a706700c2ff.jpg

    Washington Capitals Alex Ovechkin of Russia, second from left, and his teammates listen to coach Adam Oates during NHL hockey team practice at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, Va. Wednesday, May 1, 2013. The Capitals host the New York Rangers in Game 1 of a first-round NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoff series on Thursday. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)The Associated Press

  • 64228edd9e6fa10e300f6a7067003fe3.jpg

    Washington Capitals Karl Alzner works out during NHL hockey team practice at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, Va. Wednesday, May 1, 2013. The Capitals host the New York Rangers in Game 1 of a first-round NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoff series on Thursday. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)The Associated Press

  • 31e61d0a9e65a00e300f6a7067007f71.jpg

    Washington Capitals' Alex Ovechkin, of Russia, skates with the puck during NHL hockey team practice at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, Va. Wednesday, May 1, 2013. The Capitals host the New York Rangers in Game 1 of a first-round NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoff series on Thursday. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)The Associated Press

  • 276735779e65a00e300f6a706700521f.jpg

    Washington Capitals' Alex Ovechkin, left, of Russia, talks with coach Adam Oates, right, during NHL hockey team practice at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, Va. Wednesday, May 1, 2013. The Capitals host the New York Rangers in Game 1 of a first-round NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoff series on Thursday. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)The Associated Press

Some members of the Washington Capitals say a players-only meeting in early February played an important role in saving their season.

Without it, the Capitals might not be preparing to host the New York Rangers in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference playoff series Thursday night.

Washington won only two of its first 11 games and was last in the entire NHL after a 5-2 loss at Pittsburgh. The next morning, players met at their practice facility and talked about what was going wrong.

Right after that, Washington went on a three-game winning streak and wound up winning the Southeast Division.

Center Nicklas Backstrom says of the meeting: "That's what I think was the turning point."

The Rangers also had a pivotal moment — deals made at the trade deadline.