Capitals

DT Chris Canty hoping to face RGIII this weekend

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DT Chris Canty hoping to face RGIII this weekend

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Coming off its best performance of the season, the New York Giants' defense also may get a boost for its showdown against rookie sensation Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins.

Veteran defensive tackle Chris Canty appears ready to return to the lineup Sunday after spending all season on the physically unable perform list while coming back from post-Super Bowl knee surgery.

The timing could not be better with the Giants (4-2) preparing for the dynamic young quarterback who was the No. 2 pick in the draft.

``Hopefully we won't have to do too much chasing,'' Canty said after practice. ``Hopefully we can keep him contained. Obviously you want to limit what they can do as far as the perimeter game, keep him in the pocket, contain him in that regard, then get after him.''

Limiting Griffin has not been easy.

He has transformed the Redskins (3-3) into the NFL's second-best rushing team, averaging 166 yards while leading the league in rushing touchdowns (11). Just last week, he ran for 138 yards and two scores in a 38-26 win over Minnesota. His six rushing touchdowns are second best in the league to Houston's Arian Foster.

However, running isn't all Griffin does. His 70.2 completion percentage leads the league and he ranks third with a 100.5 quarterback rating.

The key though is stopping the run, which Giants did in their 26-3 win over the 49ers on Sunday. That allowed the front four to go after Alex Smith, and it resulted in six sacks.

``You've got to stop the run'' Canty said. ``They're the second rushing team in the National Football League. We just faced the first, so we understand that we can get it done. But we have to understand the unique challenges that this team poses to us. And one of them is that dive play that they have out of various formations. You have to watch as much tape as you can and prepare for what you're going to have to face.''

The 29-year-old Canty isn't sure whether the coaches and doctors will let him play Sunday. Practicing on Wednesday started a three-week cutdown period by which time the Giants will have to decide whether to activate him or put him on injured reserve. The decision can be made any time in that period.

While saying it was great to be practicing again, Canty said he is playing catch-up at this point.

``Obviously there was some rust to be expected,'' Canty said. ``I haven't played football in eight months, since the Super Bowl. It's a highly competitive game. This is football at the highest level. That's to be expected.''

Canty would not come out and say that he plans to play on Sunday but he sounded optimistic. It also was obvious he was tired of watching his teammates play without him.

``It's been tough,'' the eight-year veteran said. ``But I've been trying to keep a positive outlook about it, positive attitude, help my teammates in any way that I can, help the young guys come along. They've been doing a great job. It's exciting. It's fun to be back and be able to play.''

Canty has spent a lot of time with rookie tackle Markus Kuhn, the team's seventh-round draft choice. He made his first NFL start two weeks ago against Cleveland and saw action against San Francisco.

``If I had any questions, I was always able to come to him,'' Kuhn said of Canty. ``When we watch film together, he sits there and says: `Markus, see how you played that' or `Good job there and not so good job there.' Definitely he's helped a lot.''

Kuhn knows having Canty back this week will help.

``What I do is just in addition to - or supplement to - what the rest of the guys on defense do,'' said Canty, who started every game for the Giants the past two seasons. ``We all complement each other with our talents and our abilities. So when we've got everybody in the fold, when we've got everybody ready to participate, it makes for something really, really special.

``I think you saw glimpses of what we can do this past Sunday and I think we're just going to try to continue to improve.''

NOTES: S Antrel Rolle was named the NFC defensive player of the week for two interceptions in the win over the 49ers. ... Backup QB David Carr and WR Jerrel Jernigan are simulating Griffin for the defense. Carr, 33, joked teammates are calling him `RG-minus 5.' Jernigan ran the option in high school. ... LB Jacquian Williams hurt his knee Sunday and probably won't play this week. His speed would have been a plus against Washington. ... RB Da'Rel Scott had his right knee debrided and a meniscus repaired on Tuesday and now seems a candidate for injured reserve. ... RB Ahmad Bradshaw, who has gained 316 yards on 57 carries the past two games, did not practice Wednesday because of a foot injury. ... RB Andre Brown returned to practice for the first time since sustaining a concussion against Cleveland Oct. 7.

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How Nicklas Backstrom saved the Capitals 3 different times in Game 5

How Nicklas Backstrom saved the Capitals 3 different times in Game 5

The Capitals found themselves in deep trouble on Saturday.

Game 5 at Capital One Arena provided Washington a golden opportunity to take a 3-2 lead in their 2018 Stanley Cup Playoff first-round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets. A loss -- another home loss -- would have been a devastating blow.

After battling back from a 2-0 series deficit, to lose in Washington would mean facing elimination in Columbus. Game 5 was the game the Caps needed and it would have slipped away from them if not for Nicklas Backstrom.

The Caps’ most underrated superstar -- the one who is constantly overshadowed by the likes of Alex Ovechkin and Braden Holtby -- took center stage on Saturday as he tipped a Dmitry Orlov shot past Sergei Bobrovsky at 11:53 of overtime to seal the victory for Washington.

“It was just a good shot from [Orlov],” Backstrom said after the game. “I thought before he had a chance to block it, and I got a tip on it, and it’s usually what happens in the playoffs. Tip goals or rebound goals. That’s the way it is. It was nice.”

Backstrom’s overtime goal capped off a three-point night for the veteran center, who also scored in the first period and assisted on a goal from T.J. Oshie.

The team ended up needing every one of his points.

From the start, Columbus outplayed Washington. With the series tied 2-2, a best-of-three mentality took over and the Blue Jackets pushed hard for the pivotal Game 5 win.

It is in those very moments that team needs its superstar players to step up. In Game 3, it was Holtby who stole the show to help Washington steal a win in Columbus.

On Saturday, it was Backstrom.

Columbus converted a shorthanded goal to seize a 1-0 lead in what was shaping up to be a dominant first period. A fluke goal from Backstrom, however, made sure the score was knotted up, 1-1, after the opening frame.

With the puck behind the goal line, Backstrom tried to slip a pass through the crease. Bobrovsky got a piece of the puck with his stick, but the amount of spin on the pass forced the puck to carom off the stick, off the back of Bobrovsky himself, and into the net.

“I was trying to make a pass,” Backstrom said. “Honestly, got lucky. I don’t know who came back-door there but I was trying for him. I’ll take it.”

After a back and forth game, the Blue Jackets came out swinging to start the third. Down 3-2, Columbus tied the game just 2:30 in and made a real push to win the game in regulation. Washington was outshot 16-1 in the third and looked like they had no push at all.

But the Caps looked like a different team when they took the ice for the extra frame. What happened in between periods?

“As I was leaving the room after the period, I could hear guys, the right guys, all saying the right things,” head coach Barry Trotz said.

When later asked if one of those guys was Backstrom, Trotz said, “Absolutely. He's one of the leaders on our team. They were all talking about let's make sure we're doing the right things. There's a lot of pride, lot of good leadership in that room.”

Whatever Backstrom and the other leaders said did the trick. Washington made a strong push in overtime leading to Backstrom’s game-winning goal.

This isn’t the first time Backstrom has delivered. Saturday’s overtime tally is the fourth of his career. That’s the most in franchise history and tied for fifth in NHL history.

Through his efforts on the ice, the Caps were able to erase a bad first period and steal the win in overtime. But it also took a big effort off the ice to get the job done.

“If you just look at the scoresheet, that doesn't say enough of about Nick Backstrom, his contribution from in the dressing room to on the ice to key moments to key faceoffs,” Trotz said.

“I've been on his soapbox about how complete a player he is and I never really worry about Nick Backstrom. He's got enough games under his belt, he's got enough stats to back it up and he's played huge minutes and he's one of our leaders. He's a tremendous hockey player.”

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John Tortorella guarantees series will return to Washington for Game 7

John Tortorella guarantees series will return to Washington for Game 7

After losing Game 1 and Game 2 at home, Alex Ovechkin declared "It’s going to be fun when we bounce back and going to tie the series and come back here and play Game 5 at home.”

Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella seems to be taking a similar tactic.

The Capitals won Game 5 in overtime on Saturday in a game that could prove to be emotionally draining for the Blue Jackets in a number of ways.

  • It was Washington's third straight win
  • Columbus was the better team for the majority of the game, but still took the loss
  • The Blue Jackets now face elimination despite holding a 2-0 series lead to start and losing only once in regulation

Tortorella has become famous for his fiery postgame press conferences in the past, including abruptly walking out after Game 4's presser when he declared "We sucked" to the media.

Saturday's was another fun one.

In a presser that lasted less than two minutes, Tortorella twice said, "We'll be back here for Game 7."

After such a draining game, Tortorella was asked how he would get them ready for what is sure to be an emotionally charged Game 6.

"I won't have to say a damn word to them," Tortorella said. "No. We'll be back here for Game 7."

The Blue Jackets will have to win Game 6 in Columbus to make that happen.

Barry Trotz was asked for his reaction after Tortorella's comments.

"What else are you going to say? That's good. He wants to get it out there, he believes in his team just as I believe in my team. It's our job for that not to happen."

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