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Between Capitals and Penguins, a lot of friendly fire

Between Capitals and Penguins, a lot of friendly fire

As a member of the Capitals for nine of his first 10 NHL seasons, Eric Fehr knows all too well the accomplishments and disappointments  of the Alex Ovechkin era. He shares many of those memories with the players he now must face as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“It’s all business, especially at this time of year,” Fehr said with a smile. “There’s a lot on the line right now and we definitely want to win.”

That means no texting between Fehr and good friend Jay Beagle, who affectionately refers to Fehr as “Frank The Tank” from his children’s book, The Bulliest Dozer.

“It’s always fun going against your friends,” Beagle said.  “But no texting during the playoffs. We can talk after.”

Fehr played a key role for the Caps last season, recording 19 goals and 33 points while centering a third line. He was injured just four games into the Capitals’ playoff run and did not return, leaving the Capitals without one of their top penalty killers and defensive specialists.

“He played a huge role on our team during the whole season,” Beagle said. “You lose guys in playoffs and when you lose impact players it affected us for sure.”

This season, Fehr recorded eight goals and six assists in 55 games for the Penguins and has added one goal in the playoffs. He’s expected to begin this series on a second line with Evgeni Malkin and Chris Kunitz.

“I expect this to be a very crazy atmosphere tonight,” he said inside a cramped visiting locker room. “Obviously, a lot of history between the two teams and the fans are going to be excited.”

Fehr is not the only player with close ties to members of the opposition.

Penguins defenseman Ben Lovejoy says former Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik was one of his best friends when they played together in Pittsburgh. Penguins center Matt Cullen, the oldest player in the series at 39, won a Stanley Cup with Justin Williams when they were both in Carolina.  

“He’s one of my favorite humans,” Lovejoy said of Orpik. “He was a veteran defenseman when I showed up (in Pittsburgh) and we had a great relationship. He was one of my best friends and I wish him nothing but the best, except for the next couple weeks.”

Cullen and Williams won a Cup together in 2006 and have been friends ever since. Williams played in his 1,000th game in the Caps’ season finale. Cullen has played in 1,294 games.

“Justin’s a good friend and it’s fun to see the success he’s had,” Cullen said. “We went on a really fun run in Carolina and we played a few years there. He’s a competitor. He’s a good guy, a good friend and I’m happy to see he’s had some success.”

Cullen, who put up 16 goals this season, said he was happy to see Williams sign with the Capitals, just as he’s happy to have landed in Pittsburgh.

“If you have a choice you want to find a team that can go deep into the playoffs and that what you can bring to the team can help them take that next step,” he said. “I know he thinks that way and I think a lot of guys think that way, especially as you get late in your career.”

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3 reasons the Caps beat the Stars


3 reasons the Caps beat the Stars

The Washington Capitals had not beaten the Dallas Stars at home since 2006, Alex Ovechkin's second season in the NHL. That streak ended on Tuesday in a 4-3 Caps win.

Here's how the Caps were finally able to down Dallas in Washington.

Oshie still hot

After going 19 straight games without a goal, T.J. Oshie has been red-hot of late with four goals in his last four games. He scored Washington’s first goal in what would become a three-goal period for the Caps as they battled back from a 1-0 deficit into a 3-3 tie through 40 minutes. Oshie also added an assist as he won a power play faceoff that John Carlson fed to Alex Ovechkin for the goal.


Ovechkin victimizing his favorite target

You knew Ovechkin would score given he was playing against one of his favorite targets. With his second period goal, Ovechkin now has 22 goals against Kari Lehtonen in his career, tied with Henrik Lundqvist for the most goals he has scored on any netminder. Lehtonen has not been in the Eastern Conference since the 2008-09 season. When he goes to sleep at night, Ovechkin is who he sees in his nightmares.

The Carlson-Klingberg duel

Carlson and John Klingberg entered Tuesday’s game each with 59 points, tied for the league lead in points among defensemen. Carlson downplayed the matchup both before and after the game, but it was clear that both players were playing at another level all game long. While both players tallied two points on the night, you have to give the win to Carlson as he had the most significant point, a game-winning goal in the third period.


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Tarik's 3 Stars: Ovechkin further cements his place in history


Tarik's 3 Stars: Ovechkin further cements his place in history

Alex Ovechkin further cemented his place in NHL history, John Carlson stayed hot and Braden Holtby was good when called upon as the Caps down the Stars, 4-3, at Capital One Arena on Tuesday night.

The victory was Washington’s fifth in the past six games. It also marked the Caps’ first win over Dallas in D.C. since 2006.

Tarik’s three stars of the game:

1-Alex Ovechkin, Capitals

Ovi scored his 44th goal of the season and the 602nd of his career in the second period to give the Caps a short-lived 3-2 edge in the second period. The goal put Ovi back atop the league as he seeks a seventh Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy. It also pushed him past Jari Karri and into sole possession of 19th place on the NHL’s all-time list. Ovechkin has now victimized Kari Lehtonen 22 times, which is tied for the most goals he’s scored against a single netminder. (Henrik Lundqvist has also given up 22 goals to No. 8). Ovi also had a couple of secondary helpers.

2-John Carlson, Capitals

Carlson scored the game-winner 4:59 with left to play, blasting a one-timer past Lehtonen to put the Caps ahead 4-3. Carlson also notched an assist, which allowed him to stay even with Dallas’ John Klingberg. Klingberg also had a goal and an assist. Both players ended the game with 61 points—tied for the most among all NHL defensemen.    

3-Alexander Radulov, Stars

From his first shift, it was apparent that Radulov was determined to leave his mark on the game. And he did just that, recording a goal, an assist and boarding minor that bloodied Caps defenseman Michal Kempny. Radulov’s goal—a redirection of a John Klingberg shot—was his 26th and it evened the score, 2-2, in the second period.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think in the comments.