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Caps seem more excited than nervous


Caps seem more excited than nervous

There are two ways the Capitals can look at their first-round series against the Flyers, which shifts to Philadelphia for Game 6 on Sunday at noon (11 a.m. Pregame Live, CSN).

One is that their once commanding 3-0 lead in the series has been reduced to 3-2 as they head into what should be a very hostile Wells Fargo Center.

The other is that they completely dominated Friday night’s Game 5 and still have two chances to win one game.

“Reality check: We’re up 3-2 in a series,” said Capitals right wing Justin Williams, who took eight minutes in penalties in game 5 and was a minus-2. “You don’t expect to have any team go away quietly. They’re doing what they can to stay alive. If you look at the big picture, we’re up 3-2, so that’s what we’re doing.”

Caps center Jay Beagle said he can understand the angst of a Capitals fan base that has seen their team blow four two-game leads in the playoffs during the Alex Ovechkin era, but said that nervousness has not filtered into the locker room.

“We’re excited,” Beagle said. “It’s the playoffs. I mean, going into it if you would have said we had the lead going into Philly (for Game 6) we’d be happy. Game 4 we weren’t happy with the way we played, but yesterday we were really happy with the way we played.”

That’s because the Capitals outshot the Flyers 44-11 and were perfect on the penalty kill, going 6-for-6 to improve to 20 for 21 in the series. It was with that in mind that the Capitals’ coaching staff presented players with a positive message before Saturday’s optional practice, which had full participation except for Alex Ovechkin, John Carlson, T.J. Oshie and Tom Wilson.

“It’s always tough when you come back the next morning (after a loss),” Caps center Evgeny Kuznetsov said. “It’s bad because you do not sleep well. You worry about your game, your team. We want to win something here, you know? This is a good team. This morning we came and had a positive meeting and everyone smiling and all that. Coaching staff give a good beginning and that always helps the players.”

Trotz said that aside from cleaning up the six penalties in Game 5 – four by Williams and one each by Marcus Johansson and Jason Chimera – there is very little he’d like to change for Game 6 in Philadelphia.

Williams, who has won three Stanley Cups and has been on a team that rallied back from an 0-3 series deficit to win, said the Caps need to follow the instruction on their preseason baseball caps and Stick To The Script.

“If we’re frustrated we need to take a deep breath and relax and realize the task at hand is winning one game, nothing more than that,” Williams said. “The first round is tough. Nothing’s for free and we have to earn it on the road now.

“If you don’t have your confidence and don’t have your swagger you’re just someone waiting for something bad to happen. We want to make something good happen.”

While Capitals fans are crossing their fingers for Game 6, Flyers fans are suddenly feeling like destiny may be on their side. Six years ago the Flyers became just the third team in NHL history to come back from an 0-3 deficit to beat the Bruins in seven games.

“One team is going to slowly inch toward the back of the wall,” he said. “You either go down swinging or go down quietly. No team in this league is going to go down without a fight.

“They do have life. Any of the 14 or 15 teams still playing still have life. They’re still kicking; they’re still holding on, hoping they can win a championship. That’s everybody’s goal. Game 6, here we go.”

RELATED: Orpik to travel with Capitals to Philly

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Tarik's 3 stars: Caps come up empty on an emotional night in Florida

Tarik's 3 stars: Caps come up empty on an emotional night in Florida

Vincent Trocheck scored on the power play with 18.7 seconds remaining and the Panthers escaped with a 3-2 victory on an emotional night in Sunrise, Fla.

Trocheck’s goal was Florida’s second in the final four minutes…and the Caps were left to lament yet another incomplete performance. Washington has now lost three of its last four games and fell to 4-5-2 in February.

Tarik’s three stars of the game:

1-Vincent Trocheck, Panthers

Trocheck did what Trocheck does in the third period: The Florida forward scored a clutch goal in the final seconds, redirecting a Jonathan Huberdeau shot through Brooks Orpik’s legs and past Braden Holtby.

Eller was in the penalty box when Trocheck scored his 13th third period goal of the season.

2-Andre Burakovsky, Capitals

After losing a goal to Eller in the first period, Burakovsky made sure he didn’t go home empty-handed. No. 65 scored on the power play in the second period to put the Caps ahead 2-1.

It was Burakovsky’s third goal in six games. He also earned a secondary assist on Eller’s redirection score.   

3-Braden Holtby, Capitals

Following a handful of un-Holtby-like performances lately, Holtbeast roared Thursday night at BB&T Center. He made at least one game-saving stop in each period: an arm save on Trocheck in the first period; a pad stop on Denis Malgin in the second and another extended pad stop on Evgenii Dadonov in the third. Holtby finished with 30 stops.

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

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4 reasons why the Panthers beat the Caps

4 reasons why the Panthers beat the Caps

The Caps looked like they had the win in hand as they led 2-1 late in the third period, but things went off the rails in the final four minutes in a 3-2 loss to the Florida Panthers

Here's how the Caps lost.

An emotional start for Robert Luongo

Before the game, Roberto Luongo took the mic during an emotional tribute to the victims of the tragic Stoneman Douglas school shooting. As a writer, it was hard to get into the game after that. I cannot imagine how hard it must have been for Luongo to focus to actually play in the game. But he did. He started off very well, making several strong saves in the first period. Washington scored late in the opening period after an offensive cycle of over a minute that completely wore out the Panthers' skaters. Otherwise, Luongo was brilliant turning aside 13 of the 14 shots he faced in the opening 20 minutes.

Another shaky start for Braden Holtby

This was the best game we have seen from Braden Holtby in a while as he made a number of phenomenal saves in the second and third period. In the first, however, he continued to struggle. Maxim Mamin scored his first career NHL goal and point as a puck trickled through Holtby and Mamin was able to slam it home. Holtby was dealing with a screen, but reacted late to the initial shot and late to Mamin.

Aleksander Barkov splitting Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson

With a 2-1 lead late in the third, the Caps looked like they had control. But with less than four minutes remaining, Aleksander Barkov was able to split Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson to set up Nick Bjugstad for the game-tying goal. Ovechkin was backchecking, Carlson stepped up on him and then...nothing. It looked as if both players thought the other would take Barkov and Ovechkin let up at the same time Carlson skated past giving Barkov a lane to the net.

A late penalty to Lars Eller

With the game tied late, the Caps were exerting their will in the offensive zone with the cycle that had been dominant all game long...and then Lars Eller tried to set a pick on Bjugstad, knocking him to the ice. It was an obvious interference call with just 42 seconds remaining in the game. Florida would score 22 seconds later to deny Washington not only the win, but a point as well.