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Caps look to last year's loss to Rangers for confidence against Penguins

Caps look to last year's loss to Rangers for confidence against Penguins

Down 3-1 in their best-of-seven series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Caps know they have a tough hill to climb if they hope to avoid another second round exit. Not many teams have been able to overcome a 3-1 deficit, but the Caps are finding confidence from an unexpected source: last year's playoffs.

Not only did the Capitals hold a 3-1 series lead over the New York Rangers, they came within 1:41 of winning the series before the Rangers tied Game 5 and eventually stunned the Caps in seven games.

"We're in a reverse situation last year where we, Game 5, we had a team that basically pretty well down and out," head coach Barry Trotz said, "and they threw a puck to the net and it hits one of our defenseman, goes in and they end up winning in overtime and that sort of changed it."

Now that the Caps find themselves on the other end of the 3-1 deficit, they are drawing on that experience as a guide for how to climb back against the Penguins.

"It's a very similar situation," Braden Holtby said. "I think we're up 3-1 last year against the Rangers and it could have been 3-1 the other way. Same as this year. It could be 3-1 in our favor pretty easily. A couple breaks go the other way so in realizing that, you can take a page out of what the Rangers did and stuck with what they were doing last year."


It's a lesson Washington has struggled with over its history.

In the Bruce Boudreau era when the Caps developed a reputation as a team that could not win when it mattered, the players routinely abandoned the gameplan whenever they began to struggle. That's a mistake Trotz is determined to prevent the Caps from repeating again.

"We have to find another way to not really reinvent the game but just execute better, be a little sharper," Trotz said. "We get a chance to score, we've got to bury our chances. Those are the things that matter and then we've got to stay with it."

With their win in Game 5, the Rangers stole the momentum and suddenly the Caps began to feel the pressure in a series that had seemed well in hand. The lesson is clear: one win is all it takes to change a series.

"It can spiral pretty quick," Tom Wilson said. "When your'e the team that's up 3-1, you lose the game tomrrow night, it's 3-2 then we steal another one. It's not like we're down 8-1 in the series. ... It's the first team to four and they're only at three."

"We've got to have a belief that you win one, win the first period, keep going and if you win one, then things can change," Trotz said. "I mean we were prime candidates to see it first hand in the Rangers series last year so, hopefully all we can do is look at the game in front of us and go from there."


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3 reasons the Caps beat the Stars

3 reasons the Caps beat the Stars

The Washington Capitals had not beaten the Dallas Stars at home since 2006, Alex Ovechkin's second season in the NHL. That streak ended on Tuesday in a 4-3 Caps win.

Here's how the Caps were finally able to down Dallas in Washington.

Oshie still hot

After going 19 straight games without a goal, T.J. Oshie has been red-hot of late with four goals in his last four games. He scored Washington’s first goal in what would become a three-goal period for the Caps as they battled back from a 1-0 deficit into a 3-3 tie through 40 minutes. Oshie also added an assist as he won a power play faceoff that John Carlson fed to Alex Ovechkin for the goal.


Ovechkin victimizing his favorite target

You knew Ovechkin would score given he was playing against one of his favorite targets. With his second period goal, Ovechkin now has 22 goals against Kari Lehtonen in his career, tied with Henrik Lundqvist for the most goals he has scored on any netminder. Lehtonen has not been in the Eastern Conference since the 2008-09 season. When he goes to sleep at night, Ovechkin is who he sees in his nightmares.

The Carlson-Klingberg duel

Carlson and John Klingberg entered Tuesday’s game each with 59 points, tied for the league lead in points among defensemen. Carlson downplayed the matchup both before and after the game, but it was clear that both players were playing at another level all game long. While both players tallied two points on the night, you have to give the win to Carlson as he had the most significant point, a game-winning goal in the third period.


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Tarik's 3 Stars: Ovechkin further cements his place in history

Tarik's 3 Stars: Ovechkin further cements his place in history

Alex Ovechkin further cemented his place in NHL history, John Carlson stayed hot and Braden Holtby was good when called upon as the Caps downed the Stars, 4-3, at Capital One Arena on Tuesday night.

The victory was Washington’s fifth in the past six games. It also marked the Caps’ first win over Dallas in D.C. since 2006.

Tarik’s three stars of the game:

1-Alex Ovechkin, Capitals

Ovechkin scored his 44th goal of the season and the 602nd of his career in the second period to give the Caps a short-lived 3-2 edge in the second period.

The goal put Ovi back atop the league as he seeks a seventh Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy. It also pushed him past Jari Karri and into sole possession of 19th place on the NHL’s all-time list. Ovechkin has now victimized Kari Lehtonen 22 times, which is tied for the most goals he’s scored against a single netminder. (Henrik Lundqvist has also given up 22 goals to No. 8). Ovi also had a couple of secondary helpers.

2-John Carlson, Capitals

Carlson scored the game-winner 4:59 with left to play, blasting a one-timer past Lehtonen to put the Caps ahead 4-3.

Carlson also notched an assist, which allowed him to stay even with Dallas’ John Klingberg. Klingberg had two assists. Both players ended the game with 61 points—tied for the most among all NHL defensemen.    

3-Alexander Radulov, Stars

From his first shift, it was apparent that Radulov was determined to leave his mark on the game. And he did just that, recording a goal, an assist and boarding minor that bloodied Caps defenseman Michal Kempny. Radulov’s goal—a redirection of a John Klingberg shot—was his 26th and it evened the score, 2-2, in the second period.

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