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Capitals aren't surprised Rangers forced Game 7

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Capitals aren't surprised Rangers forced Game 7

News, notes, quotes and all the numbers surrounding the Capitals’ Game 7 showdown against the New York Rangers Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. at MadisonSquareGarden (Pregame coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. on CSN). The winner moves on to face the Tampa Bay Lightning or Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference Finals, likely to begin Saturday or Sunday:

Going the distance: The two clubs will face off in a Game 7 for the third time in four years
and for the fourth time overall, each coming in the past seven seasons.
The Caps won in 2009, while the Rangers have
eliminated the Capitals twice in the past three seasons [2012 and 2013]:

No surprises: The Caps say no one should be surprised this is going seven games, even though the Caps won three of the first four games.

“We’re in a Game 7 against the best team in the league,” Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik said. “I think we were  pretty fortunate to be up 3-1. I think a lot of people lost sight of that and expected it to be easy to get that fourth win against a team who won the Presidents’ Trophy. I think we’re all pretty happy to have the opportunity for a Game 7.”

Barry Trotz agrees.

“Going into this series I’m listening to all you experts and everyone was saying it’s going to be a long, seven-game series, so you got what you wanted.”

Clutch: Since their elimination by the Capitals in 2009, the Rangers have
posted five consecutive Game 7 wins and have won six consecutive Game 7s in the Garden dating back to 1992. The Rangers are also trying to become the first NHL team to win a
best-of-seven series it trailed 3-1 in consecutive years. The Rangers stormed back to beat the Penguins after losing three of four in Round 2 last spring.

“They’re a great hockey team and we knew this wasn’t going to be an easy series for us,” Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom said. “Another Game 7. It’s fun. Instead of being nervous we should make it a fun experience and an opportunity for us, a challenge.”

The King vs. the Prince: Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist has won give straight Game 7s and has allowed one or fewer goals in
each of those contests. His 1.00 goals-against average in Game 7s is tied
with Johnny Bower and Dwayne Roloson for the lowest all-time [minimum 3 games]. A
sixth game 7 win would tie Lundqvist with Martin Brodeur and Patrick Roy
for the most in NHL history.

In six career Game 7s, Lundqvist is 5-1 with a 1.00 GAA and .965 save percentage. Braden Holtby has played in four career Game 7s and is 2-2 with a 2.23 GAA and.911 save percentage.

“The game doesn’t change,” Holtby said. “The circumstances do, but the actual game doesn’t change. Circumstances aside, I expect the top level of myself and everyone that plays. I’m ready for the challenge.”

MORE CAPITALS: WON'T BACK DOWN

Been there, done that: The Caps are hoping to draw from their 2-1 victory in game 7 against the Islanders, when they held New York to just 11 shots and received goals from Joel Ward and Evgeny Kuznetsov.

“It’s not going to be one person that wins this,” Caps defenseman Karl Alzner said. “It’s going to take everyone doing the exact same thing right. We want to play the same way we did against the Islanders and give 100 percent effort so that win or lose you’re happy with yourself and your team. We want to win really bad so I think we’re going to be ready to go.”

Injury update: Whatever kept Caps defenseman Tim Gleason off the ice for much of the third period is not likely to keep him out of Game 7. “I had some skate issues,” Gleason said wistfully. “I’m going to skate tomorrow and see how my skates feel.” Caps center Eric Fehr [upper body] skated with his teammates Tuesday but is not expected to be available for Game 7. 

Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh left Game 6 briefly after taking a big hit from Alex Ovechkin in the third period. It was reported that McDonagh re-injured his left shoulder, which has twice been separated. McDonagh skated with the Rangers on Tuesday and will be charged with stopping Ovechkin again in Game 7, something he has done well for the past four games.

Game 7 by the numbers: Home teams are 93-65 (.589) all-time in Game 7s in the Stanley Cup playoffs, including 2-0 in 2015. …The team that scores first is 117-41 all-time (.741), including a 2-0 mark in 2015. … Thirty-nine of 158 Game 7s have required overtime (24.7%). Road teams enjoy a narrow edge, 20-19, in Game 7 overtimes.

Capitals in Game 7s
Player GP W-L G A Pts.
Karl Alzner 5 2-3 0 0 0
Nicklas Backstrom 8 3-5 1 1 2
Jay Beagle 4 2-2 0 0 0
Troy Brouwer 5 2-3 0 0 0
Andre Burakovsky 1 1-0 0 0 0
John Carlson 5 2-3 0 2 2
Jason Chimera 5 2-3 0 3 3
Eric Fehr 4 1-3 0 0 0
Tim Gleason 3 3-0 0 2 2
Curtis Glencross 1 1-0 0 0 0
Mike Green 8 3-5 0 1 1
Marcus Johansson 4 2-2 0 0 0
Evgeny Kuznetsov 1 1-0 1 0 1
Brooks Laich 7 3-4 2 2 4
Matt Niskanen 3 1-2 0 0 0
Brooks Orpik 5 3-2 0 2 2
Alex Ovechkin 8 3-5 2 3 5
Joel Ward 4 2-2 2 0 2
Tom Wilson 2 1-1 0 0 0
Player GP Mins W-L GAA SO Sv%
Braden Holtby 4 242 2-2 2.23 0 .911

Rangers in Game 7s

NY Rangers GP W-L G A Pts.
Dan Boyle 5 3-2 1 2 3
Derick Brassard 3 3-0 0 3 3
Dan Girardi 6 5-1 1 0 1
Tanner Glass 3 1-2 0 0 0
Carl Hagelin 5 5-0 0 2 2
Matt Hunwick 1 0-1 0 0 0
Kevin Klein 2 2-0 0 1 1
Chris Kreider 4 4-0 0 1 1
Ryan McDonagh 5 5-0 0 0 0
Dominic Moore 6 5-1 2 2 4
Rick Nash 3 3-0 0 1 1
James Sheppard 2 0-2 0 1 1
Marc Staal 5 4-1 1 0 1
Derek Stepan 5 5-0 0 2 2
Martin St. Louis 6 5-1 0 2 2
Keith Yandle 1 0-1 0 0 0
Mats Zuccarello 3 3-0 1 1 2
Players GP Mins W-L GAA SO Sv%
Henrik Lundqvist 6 360 5-1 1.00 1 .965

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Capitals to face Penguins in NHL Playoffs for third consecutive year

Capitals to face Penguins in NHL Playoffs for third consecutive year

The Caps are headed to the 2018 NHL Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinals to take on the Pittsburgh Penguins… again.

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before.

Yes, for the third time in three years, the Capitals will play the Penguins, hoping to take down the defending Stanley Cup champions and advance out of the second round of the playoffs and to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since the 1998 season, when the team made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.

The Capitals are riding momentum from their first-round series win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, where they fought back from an 0-2 series hole to win the series thanks to a 6-3 victory in Game 6 Monday night in Columbus.

That momentum coupled with home-ice advantage — should they choose to capitalize on that this time around — could create an ideal atmosphere for the Caps to take a 2-0 series lead before heading to Pittsburgh for Games 3 and 4.

A perennial problem, Sidney Crosby enters this series playing some of his best playoff hockey. In their 4-2 series win over the Philadelphia Flyers, the Pens’ captain scored six goals in six games, including a hat trick in the opening matchup.

But he’s not the only one creating havoc for goalies. Center Jake Guentzel is tied with Crosby at the top of the league in goals and points in the playoffs. The pair each had six goals and seven assists against the Flyers, as well as 17 shots on goal apiece.

Is it possible they’ll get stonewalled by Braden Holtby, who — despite not starting initially in the first two games for the Caps against the Blue Jackets — is rocking a 93.6 save percentage and ranks fourth in the league with a 1.66 goals against average among goaltenders who have played more than one postseason game.

If the Caps can find a spark in their offense with Holtby staying strong in goal, perhaps this could be the year they finally slide past the Pens.

However, history isn’t exactly on Washington’s side. In the second-round series from the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons, the Pens hold an 8-5 record over the Caps, eliminating them both years on their way to back-to-back Stanley Cups.

Pittsburgh leads the Caps in the overall playoff game record, 38-24, and they’ve met for 10 series in the postseason, dating back to 1990-91. Four times the series was pushed to a Game 7, but the Caps never came out on top.

The one and only time the Caps have ever eliminated the Pens from the playoffs was in the 1993-94 season, when they beat Pittsburgh 4-2 in the first round before losing to the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

But hey, this year could become the second time in franchise history the Caps take down the Pens.

The NHL has yet to announce when Game 1 of the Capitals vs. Penguins series will take place, but with the Wizards playing Game 6 of their NBA Playoff series at home on Friday, the likliest start date is either Thursday, April 26 or Saturday, April 28.

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Tarik's 3 stars: Caps win 4th straight to beat Blue Jackets, advance to face the Penguins

Tarik's 3 stars: Caps win 4th straight to beat Blue Jackets, advance to face the Penguins

COLUMBUS—Alex Ovechkin scored two goals in the second period, and the Caps eliminated the Blue Jackets with a 6-3 victory in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals Monday night.

Washington, which closed out the series with four straight victories, will now face Sidney Crosby and Pittsburgh in the semifinals for the third straight spring and the fourth time since 2009.  

Tarik’s three stars of the game:

1-Alex Ovechkin, Capitals

The Caps’ captain scored the 50th and 51st playoff goals of his career in the middle frame to put the visitors in command, 3-1. His first goal came on a rebound at the top of the blue paint. The second came in a much more familiar fashion: on the power play from the Ovi Office.

2-Devante Smith-Pelly, Capitals

DSP was signed, in part, due to his reputation of coming up big in the playoffs. And he did it again in the third period, scoring an unassisted goal with a rip over Sergei Bobrovsky’s glove to put the Caps ahead 4-2…a couple of shifts after Pierre-Luc Dubois had trimmed Washington’s lead to 3-2. The tally was Smith-Pelly’s second this postseason.

3-Dmitry Orlov, Capitals

Orlov scored a goal scorer’s goal in the first period. At the point, the Dman dragged the puck around a hard-charging Artemi Panarin before rifling a slap shot past Bobrovsky, who also happens to be Orlov’s best friend off the ice. The goal was the first ever playoff tally for Orlov.

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