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Capitals sign Carlson for six more years

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Capitals sign Carlson for six more years

With just one day remaining on the NHLs expiring Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Capitals have signed restricted free-agent defenseman John Carlson to a six-year, 23.8 million contract extension.

Carlson, 22, will earn 3.8 million in 2012-13 and 4 million per year from the 2013-14 season through 2017-18.

John is a talented young defenseman who has played very well for the Capitals and still has room to grow, said McPhee. He wanted to make a long term commitment to the team and we are delighted that this young man who is an important part of our future will be a member of the club for many years to come."

Carlson recently completed a three-year, 2.625 millionentry -level contract that averaged 845,833 a season. Taken by the Caps withthe 27th overall pick in the 2008 draft, Carlson has 17 goals and 58assists in 186 games with the Caps over three seasons.He said a big reason for his decision to stay in Washington is the teamscommitment to its young players.I think theyve done a magnificent job, he said. Look atthe team last year. I dont know the exact number, but I think there were sevenor eight guys who did the same kind of thing I did coming up through theorganizations farm system. I think thats cool. You create a special bondwith those guys.Carlson recorded 32 points (nine goals, 23 assists) and 22 penalty minutes in 82 games last season with Washington, setting a career high in goals scored. He finished the season ranked second among Capitals blueliners in goals, points and shots (152) and tied for the team lead among defensemen in power-play goals (4).

He ranked second on the Capitals in ice time per game (21:51) and led the team in blocked shots (153). Carlson finished the postseason tied for fifth on Washington in points (two goals, three assists) and was tied for the lead among Capitals defensemen in goals, assists and shots (27). His 24:02 of ice time per game was second on the team and his 38 blocked shots led all Capitals players.

The Natick, Mass., native matched a Capitals single-season record for most points by a rookie defenseman (37) during the 2010-11 season and led all rookies in ice time per game (22:38), blocked shots (160) and ranked fourth among rookie blueliners in points. He was named to the 2010-11 NHL All-Rookie Team. In 186 career NHL games with Washington, Carlson has tallied 75 points (17 goals, 58 assists) and a plus-17 rating.

The 6-foot-3, 212-pound defenseman helped Hershey, the Capitals American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, win the 2010 Calder Cup championship, collecting seven points (two goals, five assists), including the cup-clinching goal in Game 6, in 13 playoff games. That same year, Carlson scored the overtime, game-winning goal to help the United States win the gold medal at the 2010 World Junior Championship (WJC) against Canada.

He posted three goals and four assists in seven tournament games as an alternate captain and was named to the WJC All-Star Team. In addition, Carlson helped Hershey win the 2009 Calder Cup championship, collecting three points (one goal, two assists) in 16 playoff games.

Carlson was originally drafted by Washington in the first round (27th overall) of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.

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Braden Holtby puts loss to Tampa solely on his own shoulders

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USA TODAY Sports

Braden Holtby puts loss to Tampa solely on his own shoulders

The mood in the Capitals locker room following a 4-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday was one of frustration. Forty minutes of strong play from Washington amounted to nothing because of a disastrous opening first period in which the Lightning jumped out to a 3-0 lead.

No one in the locker room was more frustrated than Braden Holtby.

"Obviously you don't want to go down three," he told reporters after the game. "That's on no one else but me. The third goal, especially the third, fourth goal, that's the difference in the game. I thought we played a really strong game against a really good team. We should have got a better result and that's on me why we didn't."

Tampa scored three goals in the first off of only eight shots. For the game, the Lightning managed to pierce Holtby four times off of only 19 shots.

RELATED: WHY THE CAPS LOST TO THE LIGHTNING

Frustration seemed to boil over on the fourth goal when a normally stoic Holtby was visibly upset after allowing Nikita Kucherov to beat him on a breakaway in a play similar to what we saw in the All-Star Game.

See for yourself:

"The key to getting better is learning from your mistakes and obviously I didn't do that," Holtby said. "I was just trying to play it patient. I wasn't trying to cheat towards that move and he came at it a different way. That's on me for not recognizing it. That's not a goal I can give up in that situation after our team battled the way they did, especially in the third."

The frustration Holtby feels likely is not the result of one goal, but the culmination of a recent slump that continues to plague the Vezina winner.

Holtby has lost four straight starts and has given up at least four goals in each of those games.

While Holtby was quick to take the blame for Tuesday's loss, head coach Barry Trotz was quick to defend his netminder.

"No one takes the loss," he said. "We all take a loss. I take a loss, the group takes a loss and Braden's part of the group. ... He's had a little tough stretch. It's no different than, we've got guys that haven't scored in 15, 20 games. It's no different than a player."

The challenge now is overcoming that slump.

For a slumping skater, Trotz could try different line combinations or play someone in different situations over the course of the game. Getting a starting goalie out of a slump, however, is more difficult. Most of the work has to be done in practice with the hope that it will carry over into the next game.

"You analyze how the goals are going in, what you're doing differently," Holtby said. "There's always some stuff that you can't control and stuff that you can and it's focusing on those contrallables that you can make a difference at. Like the first goal in Chicago, the last two goals here, those are goals that I could and should stop. You get to practice the next day and you focus on that and work hard until you figure it out so you don't do it again."

MORE CAPITALS: CHECK OUT THE 3 STARS OF THE GAME FROM CAPS-LIGHTNING

Part of the problem in Washington is that team defense is the Caps' biggest weakness. For most of the season, and even in years past, Holtby has made up for much of the team's mistakes on the backend. Now that he is slumping those mistakes become much more glaring and costly.

"The goaltenders in this league are erasers," Trotz said.

Lately, Holtby has not been able to erase those mistakes.

But the team has already moved to address the defense. Brian MacLellan added a puck-moving defenseman in Michal Kempny to help the team get the puck out of the defensive zone more quickly. Waiving Taylor Chorney could also signify another move may be coming before Monday's trade deadline.

As for Trotz, even during the slump, he made clear his confidence in Holtby has not wavered.

"He has been a rock since the day I've been here the last four years and he's been an elite goaltender and I look at him that way."

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2018 Olympic Hockey Results: Czech Republic eliminate U.S. men in shootout winner

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USA Today Sports

2018 Olympic Hockey Results: Czech Republic eliminate U.S. men in shootout winner

GANGNEUNG, South Korea -- Pavel Francouz stopped all five shooters and Petr Kouka scored the shootout winner as the Czech Republic eliminated the United States with a 3-2 victory in the quarterfinals Wednesday.

Jan Kovar and Tomas Kundratek scored in regulation for the Czech Republic, which was fresher after winning its group and getting a bye into the quarterfinals. The U.S. looked fatigued after facing Slovakia in the qualification round and was outshot 29-20.

Ryan Donato and Jim Slater scored for the U.S, which again was led by its youngest players, including speedster Troy Terry. U.S. goaltender Ryan Zapolski allowed three goals on 29 shots and one in the shotoout, while Francouz stopped 18 in regulation and overtime.

Koukal was the only player to score in overtime. Chris Bourque, Ryan Donato, Marc Arcobello, Terry and Bobby Butler couldn't beat Francouz.

RELATED: OVECHKIN HAS LITTLE DESIRE TO WATCH 2018 WINTER OLYMPICS