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Behind masterful performance from Holtby, Caps take Game 3 1-0

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Behind masterful performance from Holtby, Caps take Game 3 1-0

Instant analysis of the Capitals’ 1-0 win over the New York Rangers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Monday night at Verizon Center:

How it happened: Capitals center Jay Beagle scored a fluky goal 7:31 into the second period and Braden Holtby was the Great Wall of Chinatown, stopping all 30 Rangers shots for his second career playoff shutout and his first in exactly two years.

What it means: The Capitals grabbed a 2-1 series lead and will try to put a stranglehold on the series with a win in Game 4 Wednesday night at Verizon Center.

Holt-beast: Braden Holtby improved his career playoff record to 9-2 following losses. He has allowed two or fewer goals in each of those nine wins. Holtby’s last shutout came on May 4, 2013 when he blanked the Rangers 1-0 on an overtime goal by Mike Green. The win gave the Caps a 2-0 series lead but the Rangers rallied to win the series in seven games.

How they scored: After failing on a pair of first-period power plays, the Caps scored on a fortuitous bounce off the back of Henrik Lundqvist’s skate 7:31 into the second period. Troy Brouwer knocked Marty St. Louis off the puck on the forecheck, allowing Beagle to come off the bench and fire a shot wide left of the net. Beagle pursued his errant shot, swung around the net and banked a shot off the back of Lundqvist’s left skate for his first goal and fourth point of the playoffs. Andre Burakovsky earned the primary assist for his first career playoff point.  

MORE CAPITALS: LEONSIS TALKS ABOUT WIZARDS AND CAPITALS PLAYOFF SUCCESS 

Capitals’ save of the game: With 6:35 remaining in the second period and the Caps clinging to their one-goal lead, St. Louis blocked a shot by John Carlson and sprinted in alone on Braden Holtby. OK, maybe not sprinted. Because he blocked the shot, St. Louis hobbled though his first two strides but still had enough steam to close in on Holtby, only to shoot into his chest.

Rangers’ save of the game: Henrik Lundqvist made some good ones, but none better than the shoulder stop he made on Alex Ovechkin on the Caps’ first of two power plays midway through the opening period. Nicklas Backstrom made a beautiful centering pass to Ovechkin, who rarely misses with that much time and space.

Bruised, not beaten: Midway through the third period caps defenseman Brooks Orpik took a heavy hit into the glass from Rangers left wing Rick Nash and was slow to get to his feet, but he finished the game.     

Gleason in, Schmidt out: Defensemen Tim Gleason and Nate Schmidt took part in pregame warmups but when Gleason declared himself good to go after sitting out the start of Sunday’s practice with an undisclosed injury. With the AHL Hershey Bears starting Round 2 of the Calder Cup playoffs on Wednesday against the Hartford Wolk Pack, look for Schmidt to return to Hershey on Tuesday.  

What’s next: The Caps have scheduled a practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex on Tuesday. Game 4 is set for 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, with Game 5 slated for Friday at 7 p.m. in New York. 

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Capitals Extra Podcast: Trade deadline story time with Alan May

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NBC Sports Washington

Capitals Extra Podcast: Trade deadline story time with Alan May

Alan May knows a thing or two about the trade deadline.

Over the course of his NHL career, May was traded five total times, four at the trade deadline. He sits down with Rob Carlin on a special edition of the Capitals Extra Podcast to tell stories from his playing days about what it was like getting traded.

This one's a can't miss for hockey fans. You can listen to the episode here on the Capitals Extra page or with the player below.

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NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?

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USA TODAY Sports

NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?

The Hart Trophy is given to the player judged to be the most valuable to their team. With the Caps currently struggling in almost every aspect of the game, consider this: Just where would they be without Alex Ovechkin?

Washington ranks 10th in the NHL in goals per game with 3.05. Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals with 36. He has scored an incredible 19-percent of his team's goals. No one on the Caps is within 20 goals of the Caps' captain.

That's not a typo. Evgeny Kuznetsov ranks second on the team with 16 goals. No other team in the league has a larger separation between its top two scorers. In fact, only three teams have a difference that's in the double digits: Vancouver (11), San Jose (10) and New Jersey (10).

Ovechkin is almost singlehandedly propping up Washington as a top-ten offense. If you think about just where this offense would be without him, there's a pretty strong case to be made that Ovechkin is as valuable to his team this season as any other player in the league.

SEE THIS WEEK'S 2018 NHL AWARDS TRACKER HERE

Here are the Caps' hopefuls for awards this season:

John Carlson

In contention for: Norris

Carlson is fifth among all defensemen with 45 points, but his case goes beyond the numbers. With a blue line that has featured two rookies the majority of the season, an aging veteran in Brooks Orpik and that had to deal with an injury to Matt Niskanen, the Caps have asked a lot of Carlson this season and he has always been up to the task.

Alex Ovechkin

In contention for: Hart

Few players, if any, are as important to their team's offensive production and therefore its success than Ovechkin has been this season.

Check out who the top candidates are for the league's major individual awards in this week's 2018 NHL Awards Tracker!