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The 12 best Capitals moments at Verizon Center


The 12 best Capitals moments at Verizon Center

The Verizon Center is no more. The building is still there, but the name is not. On Wednesday the Verizon Center officially became Capital One Arena ending an 11-year era for the Washington Capitals.
The building first opened its doors in 1997, but as the MCI Center. It did not become the Verizon Center until 2006. While the MCI Center hosted two Stanley Cup Final games and saw the team raise a conference championship banner, the Verizon Center will still leave fans with plenty of happy memories. Here are the best:
April 3, 2008: Ovechkin breaks Luc Robitaille’s record

Luc Robitaille is one of hockey’s all-time greats and it took Alex Ovechkin just three seasons to beat his single-season record for most goals by a left wing. Locked in a tight race for the playoffs in which the team could not afford anything but a win, Ovechkin came through scoring his 64th and 65th goals of the season in a 4-1 win over Tampa Bay to break Robitaille’s record of 63.

April 5, 2008: Caps win Southeast Division in the last game of the season

After years of regular season success, the luster of a division championship has faded, but that wasn’t true in 2008. Washington had not reached the playoffs since 2003 and had not won its division since 2001. The Caps looked like the worst team in the NHL at the start of the season, but Bruce Boudreau breathed new life into Washington after a mid season coaching change. After a late surge in the standings, it all came down to the last game of the season. Washington needed a win to edge out Carolina for the division and reach the playoffs and they got one, downing Florida 3-1.

RELATED: Samsonov willing to play in AHL, does not believe Caps are 'cursed'

April 11, 2008: Ovechkin scores late game winner in his first playoff game

The first playoff game of the Ovechkin era did not start out all that well with Philadelphia taking a 4-2 lead into the third period. Mike Green scored twice to tie the game, however, and then Ovechkin pulled off this beauty, stealing the puck twice and scoring the late go-ahead goal.

December 28, 2008: Mike Gartner’s number retired

Mike Gartner spent 10 seasons of his Hall-of-Fame career with the Capitals, scoring 789 of his 1335 career points. The team honored him in a game against Toronto by retiring his No. 11 jersey and hanging it in the rafters alongside Rod Langway’s 5, Yvon Labre’s 7 and Dale Hunter’s 32.

February 18, 2009: Ovechkin’s insane goal against Montreal

Everyone knows about the magical goal against the Coyotes, but as incredible as it was, there was an element of luck to it. This goal against Carey Price, however, was pure skill and, for my money, is the best goal of his career.

April 24, 2009: John Tortorella goes crazy

John Tortorella has always been a fiery figure in the hockey world and that came to a head in the playoffs in 2009. As head coach of the New York Rangers, Tortorella lost his temper in Game 5 in a 4-0 loss. He squirted water at a fan and then threw the water bottle into the crowd. When things got really heated he grabbed a stick before cooler heads finally prevailed. Tortorella received a one-game suspension and the Caps managed to battle back from a 3-1 series deficit thanks to….
April 28, 2009: Sergei Fedorov clinches series win over Rangers

Perhaps one of the biggest goals in the history of the franchise, Sergei Fedorov sealed the first playoff series win of the Ovechkin era with a late third period goal. Locked in a 1-1 tie in Game 7, Fedorov streaked down the ice, put on the breaks and aimed his shot top shelf to beat Henrik Lundqvist.

May 4, 2009: Dueling hat tricks

In their first playoff series against one another, the Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby rivalry was as good as advertised. In Game 2, the game was not between two teams, but really between two players as Ovechkin and Crosby each netted a hat trick. Washington would go on to narrowly defeat the Penguins 4-3 in that game.

February 7, 2010: Caps win 14th straight

After winning 13-straight games, the Caps hosted the rival Penguins looking to extend their winning streak. The city was covered in snow after a blizzard, but the fans still came out in force. Pittsburgh jumped out to a 4-1 lead and looked ready to finish the Caps' streak, but Washington forced overtime thanks to an Ovechkin hat trick and Mike Knuble was able to net the game winner.
January 10, 2016: Ovechkin scores his 500th goal

Ovechkin scored twice the day before in Madison Square Garden to pull within one goal of the 500 mark. Thankfully, the Caps came home for their next contest allowing the fans to witness the Great 8 join the exclusive 500-goal club with a power play tally against Ottawa’s Andrew Hammond. Ovechkin wasn’t done either as he would score his 501st goal later in the game.

January 5, 2017: Caps halt Columbus’ record run

Columbus came to Verizon Center the winner of 16-straight games, just one win shy of the NHL record set by Pittsburgh in the 1992-93 season. That streak came to a screeching halt as the Capitals dominated the Blue Jackets 5-0. Five different players scored for Washington while Braden Holtby turned aside all 29 shots he faced on the night.
January 11, 2017: Ovechkin scores 1000th point

With 999 career points, Ovechkin scored just 35 seconds into the game against the rival Penguins for point No. 1000. Ovechkin took a pass from Nicklas Backstrom then cut to the inside to wrist a shot past Marc-Andre Fleury. The Great 8 would add yet another point in the second period with his second goal of the game.

MORE CAPITALS: Alex Ovechkin gets no love from NHL Network

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Caps work on team building by fighting each other in FBI training

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Caps work on team building by fighting each other in FBI training

How much better would your work environment be if you had a chance to pin a coworker or get them in a chokehold? Probably a lot. That's what the Caps are banking on.

The team visited the FBI Academy on Wednesday in a team building exercise that included raming doors and, of course, hand to hand combat.

Let's break down some of these wrestling matchups.

Braden Holtby appears to be thanking John Carlson for playing 27:33 on Tuesday.

It seems dangerous to pit a goalie against a defenseman. Carlson spends all of his time on the ice trying to protect Holtby. Just how hard was Carlson really trying to take down Holtby?

It's no surprise seeing Tom Wilson enjoying himself with the hand to hand combat. Whoever went up against him (it looks like Jay Beagle) certainly drew the short straw.

And then there's this.

Nicklas Backstrom is having way, way too much fun. Maybe Andre Burakovsky was getting a bit chesty in the locker room after his first NHL fight. Well, it seems Backstrom certainly put him in his place.

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There are no moral victories, but Caps see a defensive effort they can build on in Tuesday's loss


There are no moral victories, but Caps see a defensive effort they can build on in Tuesday's loss

The Capitals probably deserved a better result on Tuesday than a 2-0 loss at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Coming into that game, the Leafs were averaging 5.20 goals per game and had scored no fewer than three in any of their five games to start the season. Yet, a Capitals team fresh off an 8-2 loss against the Philadelphia Flyers managed to hold Toronto’s offense to only one goal, the second coming only after Braden Holtby had been pulled for the extra attacker.

“There's a lot of improvements from our game in Philadelphia, that's for sure,” Barry Trotz said following the game.

Aside from a flurry of chances from Toronto early in the first, the game was largely even between the two sides until Connor Brown put the Leafs up 1-0 in the third period.


Despite their effort, however, do not take this game as proof that Washington has solved all of its blue line issues. Tuesday was just merely a step in the right direction.

“We did some things better [Tuesday],” Braden Holtby said. “The outcome could have been a little worse if luck wasn't on our side today on a few plays. We've got to keep a realistic mindset on that too.  But we did a lot of good things [Tuesday]. Our defense did a really good job at handling their speed and their size.”

Surprisingly, it was not the defense that cost Washington the game, but the offense. When the Caps needed a goal, they simply could not generate one against goalie Frederik Andersen.

Yes, the team needs to find more of a balance and get a full 60-minute effort on both ends of the ice, but there was also hope in the locker room on Tuesday that if they continue to improve in their own zone, it will ultimately lead to more offense in the other end.

“Everything is developed from the defensive zone,” Holtby said. “That's the way we've always had success scoring goals. If you're taking risks offensively, that's not a consistent way to play. You might win some games, but you're not going to win games consistently. That's what our foundation of our team is built around, our breakout, especially on our goal line and that what creates a lot of our offense.”


What the first seven games of the season has shown is that the Capitals’ fate rests on its blue line. Yes, they need more depth scoring from their third and fourth line, but this team’s weakness is its defense. How they respond to their early struggles will determine the fate of the season.

“We'd be kidding ourselves if we're not going to have some growing pains along the way,” Holtby said of the team. “It's just how we handle them and what we do with them. How do we fight through them and get better?”

Tuesday’s game may have ended in a loss, but it was an effort the defense can build around. That is the silver lining. If they do build on this game, the Capitals still have a playoff caliber roster. If they do not, well, there is no telling how far Washington can sink.