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Caps earn first win of the series in overtime over Crosby-less Penguins

Caps earn first win of the series in overtime over Crosby-less Penguins

Final score: Washington Capitals 3, Pittsburgh Penguins 2

How it happened: This game had a little bit of everything. Karl Alzner made his return to the lineup and it was a good thing he did. Matt Niskanen was ejected just over five minutes into the game after delivering a hit to the head of Sidney Crosby. It looked as if the Penguins' superstar lost his balance as Niskanen was delivering the hit which resulted in the high hit. Crosby did not return.

After the Caps killed off the five-minute major power play, they were able to strike first on a two-man advantage power play as Nicklas Backstrom banked a shot off of Marc-Andre Fleury and Ian Cole. Both teams were held scoreless in the second period, but Evgeny Kuznetsov was able to add an insurance tally on an odd-man rush in the third period. Then disaster struck. The Penguins were able to score twice with less than two minutes remaining with the goalie pulled to tie the game and force overtime. After Marcus Johansson forced a penalty, however, Kevin Shattenkirk scored his first goal of the postseason to give the Caps the win.

What it means: The Capitals finally managed to take one from the Penguins and now trail the series 2-1. They are still in a tough position, however, as they must still win Game 4 in Pittsburgh to avoid a 3-1 hole and bring the series back to Washington tied at 2. Still, the Caps have at least avoided the possibility of a sweep and guaranteed a return trip to Washington for Game 5.


Caps goal: Nicklas Backstrom (power play) from Alex Ovechkin and Justin Williams. With a 5-on-3 power play, Backstrom held the puck on the red line to the left of the net. He fired a shot into the crease that bounced off the stick of Marc-Andre Fleury and leg of Ian Cole into the net.  Caps 1, Penguins 0

Caps goal: Evgeny Kuznetsov from Marcus Johansson and Justin Williams at 9:46 in the 3rd. Trevor Daley could not corral a puck at the Caps' blue line and it bounced over his stick leading to an odd-man rush. Williams backhanded a pass to Johansson who went in on net before passing at the last moment to Kuznetsov. Fleury sold out to stretch the pad leaving the top of the net open for Kuznetsov to bury. Caps 2, Penguins 0

Penguins goal: Evgeni Malkin from Justin Schultz and Phil Kessel at 18:07 in the 3rd. The Penguins passed around the perimeter until Malkin found some room and fired a one-timer that beat Holtby. Caps 2, Penguins 1

Penguins goal: Justin Schultz from Evgeni Malkin at 18:55 in the 3rd. A point shot from Schultz deflected off the stick of T.J. Oshie bouncing its way into the net for the late, game-tying goal. Caps 2, Penguins 2

Caps goal: Kevin Shattenkirk (power play) from Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nicklas Backstrom at 3:13 into overtime. Caps 3, Penguins 2

3 Caps stars

1. Kevin Shattenkirk: He has had a rough postseason so far, but he won the game with his overtime tally to give the Caps a glimmer of hope for the series.

2. Braden Holtby: There was a lot of talk over who should start this game after Holtby was pulled in Game 2. Barry Trotz, however, put his faith in Holtby and his faith was rewarded as Holtby had his best game of the series.

3. Daniel Winnik: Remember that series-defining save Tom Wilson made off the goal line against Toronto? Winnik made a similar play in the first period. A shot from Nick Bonino got past Holtby and hit off the post sitting in the crease. Bryan Rust got a whack at it, but Winnik blocked the shot with the shaft of his stick to save the goal.

Look ahead: The series remains in Pittsburgh for Game 4 on Wednesday. Game 5, made necessary by Monday's win, will be in Washington on Saturday.

Watch the game? Tell us what you thought!

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Touted Prospect Shane Gersich signs with Caps, joins team immediately


Touted Prospect Shane Gersich signs with Caps, joins team immediately

The Caps signed University of North Dakota forward Shane Gersich, a fifth round selection in 2014 and one of the organization’s top prospects, on Friday morning, the team announced.

Gersich, a left shot who is listed at 5-11, 175-pounds, has already joined the team in Montreal, where the Caps play the Canadiens at Bell Centre on Saturday night.

His contract, which begins this season, carries an average annual value of $925,000.

It’s unclear when Gersich will make his NHL debut, but it could happen at some point in the Caps’ final eight games before the playoffs.


NBC Sports Washington has been told that the primary objective for Gersich in the coming weeks is to get his first taste of the NHL by observing—and practicing alongside—his new teammates in Washington. If the opportunity to get him into the lineup presents itself, then it’s possible he’ll suit up.

The 21-year-old just completed his third season at UND. Here are Gersich’s numbers from junior and college, courtesy of


At UND, the smooth-skating and skilled Gersich also produced this memorable goal vs. Denver:

Gersich has been assigned jersey No. 63 in Washington, according to the Caps’ website.

The addition of Gersich and subsequent subtraction of Travis Boyd, who was reassigned to Hershey on Friday morning, leaves the Caps with 14 forwards on the roster.

“I think he did a great job at rookie camp,” Caps GM Brian MacLellan said of Gersich in July. “He was one of our best players, if not the best player, at camp. Really happy about the way he’s progressed and where we picked him. I think Ross Mahoney did a great job with that pick.”

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Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018 projection: Still too close to call in the Metropolitan Division


Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018 projection: Still too close to call in the Metropolitan Division

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are right around the corner and there is still a lot to be decided.

The Metropolitan Division is going to come right down to the wire as each team seemingly continues to win and put the pressure on the first place Capitals.

With just over two weeks remaining in the regular season, the playoff matchups for the first round of the NHL playoffs are still up in the air with only five points separating the top four teams in the Metro. Washington is in good position with a four-point cushion between themselves and the second place Pittsburgh Penguins.

With both teams meeting on April 1, however, the Caps are still a long way off from clinching the division and earning home ice in the first round.



Eastern Conference (As of Friday 3/23):

1M Washington Capitals (93pts) vs. WC1 Philadelphia Flyers (88pts)
2M Pittsburgh Penguins (89pts) vs. 3M Columbus Blue Jackets (89pts)
1A Tampa Bay Lightning (106pts) vs. WC2 New Jersey Devils (82pts)
2A Boston Bruins (100pts) vs. 3A Toronto Maple Leafs (95pts)

Western Conference (As of Friday 3/23):

1C Nashville Predators (106pts) vs. WC1Anaheim Ducks (88pts)
2C Winnipeg Jets (98pts) vs. 3C Minnesota Wild (90pts)
1P Las Vegas Golden Knights (100pts) vs. WC2 Colorado Avalanche (88pts)
2P San Jose Sharks (93pts) vs. 3P Los Angeles Kings (89pts)


Washington has won only one out of four games against the Philadelphia Flyers this season. That's not an ideal first-round matchup for Washington, but there is still time for the Flyers to climb and overtake Columbus or Pittsburgh in the standings.

What seems unlikely to happen is for New Jersey or Florida to pass Philadelphia. While things remain close near the top of the standings, there seems to be a growing divide between the top-four teams in the Metropolitan Division and the two teams battling for the final remaining spot in the playoffs.

The Flyers may be in fourth place in the division, but they still boast a healthy six-point lead over the Devils who sit in the second wild card.

If we assume New Jersey and Florida will not be able to climb to any postseason position, but the second wild card, that makes the three most likely candidates to face Washington in the first round Pittsburgh, Columbus and Philadelphia.


Metropolitan Division
1. Washington Capitals (93 points, 74 GP, 40 ROW)
2. Pittsburgh Penguins (89 points, 74 GP, 40 ROW)
3. Columbus Blue Jackets (89 points, 75 GP, 36 ROW)

Atlantic Division
1. Tampa Bay Lightning (106 points, 74 GP, 45 ROW)
2. Boston Bruins (100 points, 72 GP, 42 ROW)
3. Toronto Maple Leafs (95 points, 74 GP, 37 ROW)

Wild Card:
WC1. Philadelphia Flyers (88 points, 75 GP, 36 ROW)
WC2. New Jersey Devils (82 points, 73 GP, 32 ROW)

Still in the Hunt:
Florida Panthers (81points, 72 GP, 34 ROW)


Central Division
1. Nashville Predators (106 points, 73 GP, 43 ROW)
2. Winnipeg Jets (98 points, 73 GP, 42 ROW)
3. Minnesota Wild (90 points, 73 GP, 38 ROW)

Pacific Division
1. Las Vegas Golden Knights (100 points, 74 GP, 44 ROW)
2. San Jose Sharks (93 points, 74 GP, 38 ROW)
3. Los Angeles Kings (89 points, 75 GP, 39 ROW)

Wild Card:
WC1. Anaheim Ducks (88 points, 74 GP, 34 ROW)
WC2. Colorado Avalanche (88 points, 74 GP, 39 ROW)

Still in the hunt:
St. Louis Blues (85 points, 72 GP, 34 ROW)