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Beagle rewarded for his efforts


Beagle rewarded for his efforts

For Jay Beagle, its never been about the money. Its about the opportunity to be an integral part of an NHL team.

So when the Capitals offered the 26-year-old center a two-year contract following the 2011-12 season, Beagle asked for three.

I told my agent Id love to play here and theres no other place Id rather be, Beagle said. I wanted to sign a longer deal and establish myself.

On Thursday Beagle agreed to a three-year, 2.7 million contract believed to be worth 700,000 next season and 1 million in each of the following two years.

The contract is the first one-way contract of Beagles career, meaning he will be paid the full 2.7 million whether he plays in the NHL or AHL. But its also significant because of what Beagle had to go through to get it.

On Oct. 13 Beagle was knocked out in a fight with former Penguins tough guy Arron Asham and missed the next three months with concussion symptoms. It wasnt until the end of February that then-head coach Dale Hunter began using Beagle as a penalty killer and shut-down center.

It was the worst time of my life, I think, Beagle said of his three months on the sidelines. It was a time where mentally I really had to battle a lot of things.

Beagle said he was in the best shape of his career before last season but lost most of his muscle mass during his time on the injured list because he was unable to work out.

It was a terrible time and I wouldnt wish it upon my enemies, he said. Looking back, I think it has made me stronger, to realize what it takes to come back from an injury thats pretty severe.

Beagles season was ended in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals when he blocked a shot in the second period of the Caps crushing overtime loss to the Rangers. He tried suiting up for Game 6 but could not squeeze his foot into a skate.

It was getting a lot worse, he said.

Two days later, on May 11, he underwent surgery to have stabilizing pins placed in his foot. He was on crutches for one week and is now able to place full weight on it. Beagle said hes hoping to start lower body workouts soon and begin skating again in a week or two.

I didnt know how long it would take, but it is on schedule, he said.

Beagle said he wants new coach Adam Oates to count on him as a penalty killer and third-line checker who can shut down opponents top lines. In his first phone conversation with Oates, Beagle said his new coach had already broken down film and offered him a few ways he can improve his game.

He seems like a great guy and an easy guy to talk to, very personable, Beagle said. He seems like he knows the game very well. He cares about your development and wants to make me the best I can be.

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3 reasons why the Caps lost to the Lightning

3 reasons why the Caps lost to the Lightning

After a rough start, the Caps battled back to make a game of it against Tampa Bay, but ultimately fell 4-2 to the Lightning. Here's why.

The first period

To put it simply, this game was lost in the opening period. Washington was the better team for the second and third but they could not overcome the 3-0 lead they spotted the Lightning in the first. Beyond the goals, the Caps just did not play well. Even the simplest of plays looked difficult as Washington struggled to get the puck out of their own zone, gave up numerous turnovers and scoring chances and just looked overmatched. Braden Holtby also looked shaky allowing three goals on just eight shots. Usually he is able to cover up some of the mistakes the defense makes it front of him, but he was not there to bail the team out on Tuesday in what was a really rocky start.


Taking a penalty 34 seconds into the game

Entering Tuesday’s game, Tampa Bay boasted the second best power play unit in the league. Playing a disciplined game is part of every game plan, but that is especially true against such a dominant unit. Giving up a penalty just 34 seconds into the game was not an ideal start. The call itself was debatable. Brett Connolly was called for interference when he knocked over Dan Girardi in the offensive zone. The puck was just behind Girardi as he had lost control of it in his skates. The sticking point here is that Girardi no longer had possession and Connolly could have played the puck instead of the player. Most referees would probably let that go with the puck so close, but Connolly was not so lucky. Whether it was a good call or not, the Caps found themselves down a man and down a goal soon after as Brayden Point scored the power play tally.

A missed opportunity from Kuznetsov on one end, a goal for Nikita Kucherov on the other

Even after spotting the Lightning a 3-0 lead, the Caps made a game of it. Lars Eller struck on the power play in the second period and Alex Ovechkin pulled Washington to within one with about nine minutes left to play. Just over a minute later, Evgeny Kuznetsov stole the puck away from Nikita Kucherov, the frontrunner for league MVP this season, at the Tampa blue line giving the Caps a short 2-on-1. Defenseman Andrej Sustr was textbook on the play forcing Kuznetsov as far wide as he could go while still covering the passing lane and Kuznetsov elected to shoot from the faceoff dot rather than attempt the pass to T.J. Oshie.Andrei Vasilevskiy made a routine blocker save to deny what looked like a great opportunity to tie the game. As always happens in hockey, a failed opportunity on one end led to an opportunity in the other direction. Less than a minute later, Kucherov made up for his mistake by scoring a breakaway goal to put the game out of reach at 4-2.


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3 stars of the game: Lightning strike 3 times in the first to burn Caps

3 stars of the game: Lightning strike 3 times in the first to burn Caps

The first 20 minutes of Tuesday's game did not go well for Washington. The Tampa Bay Lightning scored three times in the opening frame and rode that lead all the way to the 4-2 win.

With the game heading towards a repeat of their blowout loss to Chicago, the Capitals rebounded in the second period to make a game of it as Lars Eller scored on a power play. Alex Ovechkin pulled Washington within one in the third period, but Nikita Kucherov slammed the door shut with a breakaway goal to extend the lead back to 2.

Here are the three stars of the game:

1. Brayden Point: Tampa Bay won this game in the first period when they took a 3-0 lead. Point scored two of those three goals. His first came only 2:30 into the game. He retreated to the blue line on the power play believing Jay Beagle would clear the puck. When Beagle turned the puck over, he recognized it and immediately crashed the net, taking a Ryan Callahan pass in the slot and shooting it through the five-hole of Braden Holtby.

On his second goal, Anton Stralman saw an opportunity on the Caps’ line change and passed the puck up to Point at the blue line. Point turned on the jets to get behind the defense and went five-hole again on Holtby to make the score 3-0.

2. Alex Ovechkin: After the first period, Washington slowly took this game over for much of the remaining 40 minutes. Ovechkin was a big part of that as he totaled an incredible 19 shot attempts for the game. Nine of those shots were on goal and he found the back of the net in the third period for career goal No. 594.

3. Tom Wilson: Through the first period, the Caps looked well on their way to a repeat of the 7-1 debacle they suffered Saturday in Chicago. They had nothing going in this game until Wilson drew a trip from Vladislav Namestnikov in the second period. Eller would score on the resulting power play giving Washington some much-needed life.

The Namestnikov penalty was the 29th drawn penalty of the season for Wilson, which moves him into a tie with Matthew Tkachuk for the most drawn penalties in the NHL.