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Capitals fall to Rangers in Game 7 OT


Capitals fall to Rangers in Game 7 OT

Instant analysis of the Capitals’ 2-1 loss to the New York Rangers in the seventh and deciding game of the Eastern Conference Semifinals Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden:

How it happened: Eric Fehr lost a faceoff to Derek Stepan and after Braden Holtby made a split save on a Dan Girardi slapper from the point, the rebound kicked out to Stepan, who snapped it into the top half of the net for the game-winner with 8:36 remaining in overtime.

What it means: The Capitals failed in their bid to reach the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 1998. They also fell to 3-6 in Game 7s in the Alex  Ovechkin playoff era, which began in 2008 with a Game 7 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. They fell to 2-3 in Game 7s decided in overtime. The Rangers will face the Tampa Bay Lightning in the conference finals.

Curtain call? Wednesday night’s loss may have been the final game in a Caps jersey for unrestricted free agents Mike Green, Joel Ward, Jay Beagle, Eric Fehr and Tim Gleason. All are set to go to free agency on July 1. Of that group, Beagle and Fehr appear to be the most likely to return next season, followed by Ward, Gleason and Green. Curtis Glencross, who the Capitals acquired from Calgary for a second- and third-round pick in the 2015 NHL draft, also will become a free agent. He was a healthy scratch in four of the Caps’ 14 playoff games.


Self-fulfilled prophecy: Ovechkin’s first-period goal was a thing of beauty, but he didn’t do it on his own. Nicklas Backstrom won an offensive zone faceoff and Marcus Johansson scooped up a loose puck and flipped a backhand pass over the sticks of both Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh to find Ovechkin streaking through the slot. Ovechkin took full advantage, snapping a wrister into the top right corner of the net. It was his fifth goal of the playoffs and 36th career playoff goal.

But that wasn’t all Ovechkin did in that first period. He drilled both McDonagh and Girardi on his first few shifts, letting everyone in the building know that he was in Game 7 to win it.

How Rangers tied it: Caps defenseman Mike Green gave the Rangers their fourth power play of the night when he cross-checked Dan Girardi into he boards and New York finally capitalized when J.T. Miller found Kevin Hayes all alone in the left circle for a tap-in. The goal was Hayes’ second of the playoffs and came with 6:22 gone in the second period.

Save of the night: It’s hard to come up with a bigger save than the one Braden Holtby made with 2:17 remaining in the opening period when he closed the pads to stop Rick Nash on a shorthanded breakaway. Nash, who has one goal in the series, went to his backhand but Holtby patiently waited him out for the save.

Hit of the night: With 10:27 remaining in the third period, Caps defenseman Brooks Orpik annihilated Rangers defenseman Dan Boyle with a stiff shoulder to the head. Boyle tried to get to his feet and fell, then tried again and fell. He was helped to the dressing room and did not return

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We have ourselves a goalie rotation in Washington


We have ourselves a goalie rotation in Washington

It’s happened. The Caps no longer seem to have a No. 1 goalie anymore, they have a No. 1 and 1a.

That’s right, we have a goalie rotation in Washington.

“There's no sense riding one,” Barry Trotz said after practice on Monday. “[Braden Holtby] is coming back and looking better every game and [Philipp Grubauer] played pretty well for a long stretch so why not have both of them going?”

Grubauer got the start Sunday in Philadelphia and Holtby is slated to get the start Tuesday against the Dallas Stars. After that we will have to wait and see.


Trotz has no layout for which goalie he wants to start and when in the remaining ten games. He is not thinking about each goalie splitting five games or which one he wants to use more.

Nope. Trotz has just one thing on his mind. It is all about who starts the next game, that’s it.

“I think you just go with a guy that's hot at the time and your team feels comfortable with and go from there,” Trotz said.

So where does this leave the goaltending situation when it comes to the playoffs? A goalie rotation is all well and good in the regular season, but he has to have one starter for the postseason, right?

Not necessarily.


When Trotz was asked if he philosophically believed in having one starter for the playoffs, Trotz initially said he would not answer, but then said, “Why don't you ask Mike Sullivan what he thinks.”

Sullivan, of course, is the head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins who has led his team to a Stanley Cup in each of the past two seasons despite turning to both goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray in both seasons.

While Pittsburgh’s goalie rotation was largely based on injury, however, it still provides an example of how using both goalies can work in the playoffs and that seems to be the path the Caps are headed on at the moment.

Said Trotz, “You just have to go with your gut who you think is going to get the job done.”

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NHL Power Rankings: The home stretch

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NHL Power Rankings: The home stretch

We are down to the home stretch. Only 10 games remain in the Capitals' regular season. Those 10 games will ultimately decide if the Caps finish in first place in the Metropolitan Division and who they will play in the first round of the playoffs.

Washington currently sits in first place in the division, two points ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins and four points ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers. Of those 10 remaining games, only three come against teams currently in playoff position. The most critical of these comes on April 1 when the Caps travel to Pittsburgh in a game that could ultimately decide the division.

The Caps still hold a narrow lead in the standings, but where do they stand in the rankings? See this week's updated NHL Power Rankings here.