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Capitals have date in mind for Backstrom's return

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Capitals have date in mind for Backstrom's return

The timetable for Nicklas Backstrom’s return from offseason hip surgery has been set at Nov. 1, with the possibility of him returning to the Capitals’ lineup sooner.

“As I said from Day 1, we’re looking at a worst-case scenario of maybe a 10-game type of thing if he has no setbacks and we’ll work from there,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “He’s been skating, so hopefully that timetable is going to be lessened.”

Backstrom underwent arthroscopic hip surgery on May 27. He has played in every Caps regular season game in six of his eight seasons in Washington.

“We’re just being cautious,” Trotz said. “He looks fine. He’s been getting a lot of good work and a lot of treatment. It’s going to be him and the doctors making sure our franchise player is not put at risk. That’s where we’re at. The timetable is set at November 1st. It may be before and I can’t tell you how much before, but we’re ready for if we go the distance (until Nov. 1).”

The Capitals open the regular season on Oct. 10 and play their 10th game of the regular season on Oct. 31. Their following game is on Nov. 3 in New York against the Rangers.

“He’s smart and he’s pretty patient with things,” Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik said. “He’s smart. Nobody likes missing games and as frustrating as it might be for him, if he misses the first couple (games) of the season is a lot less frustrating than missing games when we need him going into the playoffs. It’s one of those things you don’t want to re-injure it and really set yourself back and kicking yourself because you missed more time than you should.”

Orpik (left wrist surgery) practiced for the first time with the Capitals on Friday but said he does not have complete strength and mobility and it seems unlikely he’ll dress for the Caps’ final preseason game on Sunday against the New York Islanders.

“It’s been a long three weeks,” Orpik said. “I’m lucky I had Nicky (Backstrom) but we were getting sick of each other.”

Orpik said playing on Sunday is a “possibility” but doesn’t want to rush things just to get in one preseason game.

“I couldn’t shoot until last week and even last week it was pretty weak,” he said. “There’s a little less pain and the strength is coming back slowly. Catching passes was the most painful thing in the beginning and that’s pretty much gone. It feels better and better every day, but it’s a little sore afterwards.”

Trotz said Orpik and Backstrom will have the final say on when they return.

“They know their bodies best,” he said.

Daddy time: Caps defenseman Matt Niskanen skipped practice to be with his wife, Katie, for the birth of their child.

“Like a good hockey wife she said shew would be induced,” Trotz said with a laugh. “I hope everything is going well with them and their new member of the family.”

Here’s a quick look at how the Caps are expected to look tonight when they play their sixth of seven preseason games:

Forward lines

Alex Ovechkin – Evgeny Kuznetsov – T.J. Oshie

Marcus Johansson – Derek Roy – Justin Williams

Brooks Laich – Jay Beagle – Tom Wilson

Liam O’Brien – Chandler Stephenson – Michael Latta

Defensive pairings

Nate Schmidt – John Carlson

Karl Alzner – Dmitry Orlov

Aaron Ness – Taylor Chorney

Goaltenders

Braden Holtby (2 poeriods) – Philipp Grubauer (1 period)

Trotz said Roy, 32, will start the game on the second line and 30 minutes into the contest Stephenson, 21, will take his place.

“A true competition,” Trotz said.

Roy, who is on a professional tryout, said he has not been offered a contract by the Capitals. His agent has not returned messages left for him in his Ottawa office.  

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Caps attempt to address blue line depth by trading for defenseman Michal Kempny

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Caps attempt to address blue line depth by trading for defenseman Michal Kempny

Facing serious questions about their defensive depth, the Caps took a step towards addressing that depth by trading for Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Michal Kempny. Chicago will receive a conditional third-round pick in the 2018 draft in exchange.

Washington has played the majority of the season with two rookie defensemen in the lineup in Madison Bowey and Christian Djoos. The team is giving up 2.98 goals per game which ranks 20th in the NHL. If there was one weakness the Capitals absolutely needed to address, it was defense.

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Kempny, 27, has played in 31 games for Chicago this season tallying one goal and seven points. He is a left-shot defenseman who carries a cap hit of $900,000. His contract expires at the end of this season.

For his career, Kempny has played in 81 NHL games, all with Chicago, Kempny has scored a total of 15 points.

The Capitals have two third-round draft picks in 2018 after acquiring Toronto's third-round pick in the trade that sent Marcus Johansson to New Jersey. Chicago will receive the higher of the two picks at season's end.

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2018 Olympic Hockey Results: U.S. Women back in the gold medal match

2018 Olympic Hockey Results: U.S. Women back in the gold medal match

GANGNEUNG, South Korea -- The Americans played their way back into the only women's hockey game that matters: a showdown with Canada for the Olympic gold medal.

The Americans are back in the title game for a third straight Olympics after shutting out Finland 5-0 on Monday in the semifinals. They will face their arch-rival, which beat the "Olympic Athletes from Russia" 5-0 a few hours later, on Thursday. They Americans will be trying to win their first gold since 1998 when women's hockey made its debut in the Olympics.

And yes, the Americans understand the United States-Canada playing for gold is what everyone expects to see.

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"Definitely the rivalry has been there since I think I was born, so everyone's looking forward to that," said 22-year-old Dani Cameranesi.

This will be the third opportunity at gold for six Americans: captain Meghan Duggan, Hilary Knight, Gigi Marvin, Kacey Bellamy and twin sisters Monique Lamoureux-Morando and Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson.

"It's honestly a dream come true," Knight said. "This is the world's biggest stage. This is the game that you want. This is the game we've been dreaming of and to have another opportunity to get back here, it's huge."

Olympic newcomer Cameranesi scored two goals and added an assist to lead the Americans over Finland. Marvin started the scoring, and Lamoureux-Davidson and Knight both scored during a 5-on-3 34 seconds apart in the second period. Maddie Rooney made 14 saves for the shutout.

Finland remains winless in eight games against the Americans at the Olympics. The Finns, ranked third in the world last year, will try to take home the bronze medal for the first time since 2010.

"We're got one thing on our mind, and that's to get a medal," said goaltender Noora Raty, who made 33 saves. "They're the best in the world (U.S. and Canada). We just need to get more girls involved so we have more to choose from."

The Americans opened these games a 2-1 loss to Canada wrapping up pool play.

"This was really a gold-medal preparation for us because they're a darn good team, and we had to be ready to play," U.S. coach Robb Stauber said of Finland.

The Americans wasted no time getting on the board. Captain Meghan Duggan found Marvin alone in the slot, and she beat Raty stick-side for the easy goal just 2:25 into the game.

Finland lost defenseman when she had to be helped off the ice and to the locker room after a knee-on-knee collision with Duggan. She was knocked off balance before crashing face-first into the boards, snapping her head back. When play resumed without a penalty, some fans booed. Savolainen returned in the second period.

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Stauber said the referee immediately came over and said it was a collision. Duggan said she was really happy Savolainen got up and that any decision about a potential suspension was out of her control.

"There's been some other plays that haven't been put into question, and so I can't imagine that there would be any disciplinary action just based on other things that have been let go," Duggan said.

Cameranesi put the United States up 2-0 with 1:22 left in the period, taking the puck away from Susanna Tapani and skating into the left circle before beating Raty's blocker with a wrist shot top shelf.

Lamoureux-Davidson's slap shot from the left circle came with 2 seconds left on the 5-on-3 at 13:21 of the second period, and Knight got her first goal of this tournament by redirecting a shot from Sidney Morin with 5 seconds left on the man advantage for the 4-0 lead. Cameranesi padded the lead as she scored from the slot over Raty's glove off a pass from Hannah Brandt.

"We're super excited to be in this position again," Lamoureux-Davidson said. "We worked four years to put ourselves in position to compete for a gold medal and we'll enjoy this for a little bit, but we know that this isn't what we came here for. We're ready to go to battle in a couple days."