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'Boy strength' ends up being what lifts Caps in Game 4


'Boy strength' ends up being what lifts Caps in Game 4

Maybe it was Barry Trotz’s way of motivating his 20-year-old rookie. More likely, he was just answering a question as honestly as he could.

On Tuesday, when asked about Andre Burakovsky, Trotz gave this assessment:

“He doesn’t have that man strength yet. He’s still got that boy strength.”

Tell that to fellow Swede Henrik Lundqvist, who may still have whiplash after seeing – or not seeing – Burakovsky’s wicked wrist shot whiz by his blocker with 3:31 remaining in the second period of Wednesday night’s 2-1 win over the Rangers.

Or go tell that to Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh, who chased Burakovsky about 150 feet down the ice, only to see his boy strength beat Lundqvist with an authoritative backhand move.

“He’s bigger than he looks,” said Capitals right wing Tom Wilson, who lives with Burakovsky in a three-man bachelor pad shared by Michael Latta. “He’s got some weight to him and he’s a strong kid. He likes to chirp at me and run away but when we wrestle, he’s a strong kid.”

A healthy scratch at the start of the playoffs, Burakovsky said he wanted to prove to Trotz that he belonged on the ice and not in the stands and he did that Wednesday night.


On his first goal, Burakovsky found open space in the slot and instead of passing to a wide-open Troy Brouwer on his left, he fired a bullet past Lundqvist.

“I opened up for the one-timer, so maybe I was a good decoy,” Brouwer said. “He scored, which is all that matters. I did tell him, though, that if he didn’t pass he better score.”

Burakovsky said he never considered passing.

“I was right in the middle, so it would have been kind of crazy if I didn’t take a shot there,” Burakovsky said.

On their first shift of the second period the Killer Bs struck again. Brouwer blocked a shot by McDonagh, springing Burakovsky free on a breakaway.  at the Rangers' offensive blue line, allowing Burakovsky to break in alone on Lundqvist. Burakovsky shielded the back-checking McDonagh and beat Lundqvist past his glove with a backhander.

“[Brouwer] kicked the puck to me and I was trying to take it to the middle,” Burakovsky said. “I saw that Lundqvist was kind of low and I was just trying to go over his pad.”

Burakovsky was showered with cheers and they continued later in the period when he blocked a shot inside the Capitals’ defensive blue line and hobbled to the bench.

“We’re sacrificing our bodies to get the win,” he said, referring to 25 blocks by the Caps, including six by Brooks Orpik, five by Karl Alzner and four by Matt Niskanen. “No matter how much it hurts, it always feels good inside to block a shot.”

Call it man strength.

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Tarik's 3 stars: Caps come up empty on an emotional night in Florida

Tarik's 3 stars: Caps come up empty on an emotional night in Florida

Vincent Trocheck scored on the power play with 18.7 seconds remaining and the Panthers escaped with a 3-2 victory on an emotional night in Sunrise, Fla.

Trocheck’s goal was Florida’s second in the final four minutes…and the Caps were left to lament yet another incomplete performance. Washington has now lost three of its last four games and fell to 4-5-2 in February.

Tarik’s three stars of the game:

1-Vincent Trocheck, Panthers

Trocheck did what Trocheck does in the third period: The Florida forward scored a clutch goal in the final seconds, redirecting a Jonathan Huberdeau shot through Brooks Orpik’s legs and past Braden Holtby.

Eller was in the penalty box when Trocheck scored his 13th third period goal of the season.

2-Andre Burakovsky, Capitals

After losing a goal to Eller in the first period, Burakovsky made sure he didn’t go home empty-handed. No. 65 scored on the power play in the second period to put the Caps ahead 2-1.

It was Burakovsky’s third goal in six games. He also earned a secondary assist on Eller’s redirection score.   

3-Braden Holtby, Capitals

Following a handful of un-Holtby-like performances lately, Holtbeast roared Thursday night at BB&T Center. He made at least one game-saving stop in each period: an arm save on Trocheck in the first period; a pad stop on Denis Malgin in the second and another extended pad stop on Evgenii Dadonov in the third. Holtby finished with 30 stops.

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

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4 reasons why the Panthers beat the Caps

4 reasons why the Panthers beat the Caps

The Caps looked like they had the win in hand as they led 2-1 late in the third period, but things went off the rails in the final four minutes in a 3-2 loss to the Florida Panthers

Here's how the Caps lost.

An emotional start for Robert Luongo

Before the game, Roberto Luongo took the mic during an emotional tribute to the victims of the tragic Stoneman Douglas school shooting. As a writer, it was hard to get into the game after that. I cannot imagine how hard it must have been for Luongo to focus to actually play in the game. But he did. He started off very well, making several strong saves in the first period. Washington scored late in the opening period after an offensive cycle of over a minute that completely wore out the Panthers' skaters. Otherwise, Luongo was brilliant turning aside 13 of the 14 shots he faced in the opening 20 minutes.

Another shaky start for Braden Holtby

This was the best game we have seen from Braden Holtby in a while as he made a number of phenomenal saves in the second and third period. In the first, however, he continued to struggle. Maxim Mamin scored his first career NHL goal and point as a puck trickled through Holtby and Mamin was able to slam it home. Holtby was dealing with a screen, but reacted late to the initial shot and late to Mamin.

Aleksander Barkov splitting Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson

With a 2-1 lead late in the third, the Caps looked like they had control. But with less than four minutes remaining, Aleksander Barkov was able to split Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson to set up Nick Bjugstad for the game-tying goal. Ovechkin was backchecking, Carlson stepped up on him and then...nothing. It looked as if both players thought the other would take Barkov and Ovechkin let up at the same time Carlson skated past giving Barkov a lane to the net.

A late penalty to Lars Eller

With the game tied late, the Caps were exerting their will in the offensive zone with the cycle that had been dominant all game long...and then Lars Eller tried to set a pick on Bjugstad, knocking him to the ice. It was an obvious interference call with just 42 seconds remaining in the game. Florida would score 22 seconds later to deny Washington not only the win, but a point as well.