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Another 'world-class goal' for Ovechkin


Another 'world-class goal' for Ovechkin

When Alex Ovechkin was asked Saturday about what many will call one of the most dazzling goals of his career, he replied, “Our line didn’t play well.”

OK. Maybe not.

But just as he has so many other times in his career, Ovechkin turned a game around with a breathtaking end-to-end rush in which he deftly slid the puck behind him, weaved around Devils defenseman John Moore, and beat goaltender Keith Kinkaid under the crossbar for the go-ahead goal in the Caps’ eventual 5-3 win in their season opener.  

“He’s got a unique ability that he can shoot the puck from behind your feet,” said Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik, who scored his first goal as a Capital in the win. “If you overplay it, that’s what he can do to you. It was a tough night for that guy (Moore). I think he blocked two of Ovi’s slappers, too.”

“That’s what fans pay their money to see,” said Caps left wing Jason Chimera, who picked up a goal and an assist in his season debut. “Just a world-class goal by a world-class player. A lot of guys would fall down if they tried that kind of stuff.”

Caps goaltender Braden Holtby, who stopped 21 of 24 shots, including a second-period breakaway by Adam Henrique that kept the score knotted at 2-2, said he was more impressed with Ovechkin’s shot placement – under the crossbar – even though Kinkaid said, “I’ve got to make that save.”  

“The move was good, but I think the shot was the impressive part, where he put it,” Holtby said. “And I thought his assist (to Marcus Johansson to make it 4-2) was equally good.

“The way he can shoot the puck he gets so much respect and that back door was pretty wide open and he found it and Marcus did a great job putting it in.”

In 22 shifts and 21:02 of ice time, Ovechkin had 10 shot attempts (four of them were blocked, two missed the net), one goal, one assist and was a plus-1.

“We’re very fortunate to have a guy like Ovi, who really didn’t do anything early in the game,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “I thought he was a non-factor. But when the game was on the line he became a big factor in the next two goals.

“But I didn’t like our overall game. Too many turnovers. It was not a solid game for us.”

The Capitals have 81 games to correct some of the miscues of Saturday night. But having a game-breaker like Ovechkin made the difference in Game 1.

“I shook my head, tipped my hat to him and said, ‘Eighty-one more games,’ ’’Justin Williams said. “If you can just do that every time we’re tied, that’ll be fine.”

MORE CAPITALS: Ovechkin too much for Devils in opener 

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Kuznetsov to be evaluated Saturday after leaving Islanders game with "upper body" issue

Kuznetsov to be evaluated Saturday after leaving Islanders game with "upper body" issue

The Capitals may have won the game Friday against the New York Islanders, but now they will wait to see if they also suffered a significant loss.

Kuznetsov left the game in the third period after taking a slash from Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey which sent him sliding head-first into the boards. The team labeled the issue as “upper body” when it was announced he would not return to the game.

Head coach Barry Trotz was tight-lipped afterward on Kuznetsov’s status.

“They're going to re-evaluate him tomorrow and we'll have some clarity hopefully tomorrow,” he said.


You can see the play here:

When Kuznetsov is first slashed he immediately reacts. His feet then catch the stick of goalie Jaroslav Halak which sends him tripping and sliding hard into the boards. He sat on the ice for several minutes afterward and was looked at by the trainer before getting to his feet and slowly making his way to the locker room.

When asked after the game what he felt about the slash, Trotz said only, “Hockey play.”

One of the Capitals’ biggest strengths as a team is their depth down the middle. Any injury to a center, considering it is arguably the most important skating position on the ice, would be significant. An injury to the team’s top-line center would be even more costly.

Kuznetsov leads the team with 28 assists and ranks second in both goals (21) and points (69).

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3 stars of the game: Caps win brutal rematch to sweep home-and-home with Islanders

3 stars of the game: Caps win brutal rematch to sweep home-and-home with Islanders

The Caps rocked the green in warmups, the red for the game and left a bit black and blue after a brutal 6-3 win over the New York Islanders.

Based on how things went in Brooklyn on Thursday, odds were that there would be some bad blood when the two teams met Washington on Friday. One night after giving up seven goals, the Islanders gave up another six in Washington and frustrations over a rough season boiled over all game long.

Ross Johnston was ejected for continuing to fight Tom Wilson even after the referees intervened, both teams combined for 56 PIMs and Evgeny Kuznetsov left the game in the second period after a slash from Thomas Hickey as he went headfirst into the boards.

The sting of the rough night was mitigated somewhat, however, by the 6-3 score as the Caps won their fourth straight.

Here are the three stars of the game.

1. Alex Chiasson: Playing in his first game since March 8, Chiasson made the most of his opportunity with a three-point night. Jakub Vrana did the legwork as he drove the net with the puck. Jaroslav Halak stuck out his stick catching Vrana which spun the netminder around and out of the crease. Chiasson came up behind for the easy layup.

He would repay the favor with an assist for Vrana's goal later in the third. Chiasson's first assist on the night came in the second period as his initial shot was saved, but he stayed in the face of Halak long enough to prevent him from making the save on Matt Niskanen's goal.

2. Nicklas Backstrom: When things were getting ugly, Backstrom made the Islanders pay with a power play goal on the two-man advantage.

After Johnston lost his marbles and Cal Clutterbuck was called for interference on Oshie, the Capitals needed to take advantage and put the Islanders away or watch New York build momentum. That was the critical juncture of the game. Backstrom also added an assist on the two-point night.

3. Braden Holtby: The recent struggles of Holtby have been well documented. After yielding the crease to Philipp Grubauer the last four games, Holtby got the start on Friday and played very well in the winning effort. The defense in front of him certainly helped allowing only 13 shots in the first two periods, but the Islanders were buzzing in the third period. New York battled back to make it 5-3 and Mathew Barzal had a breakaway opportunity with a chance to cut the deficit to one. Holtby made the save to deny Barzal and shut the door on the comeback attempt.

In all, Holtby turned aside 22 of the 25 shots he faced.