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Ovechkin on a mission to 'lead the way'

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Ovechkin on a mission to 'lead the way'

PHILADELPHIA -- Whether it’s dropping defenseman Andrew MacDonald with his cannon slap shot and knocking Sean Couturier out of the series with a menacing shoulder into the boards in Game 1 or checking Brayden Schenn into his own players’ bench to start Game 2, Alex Ovechkin is having a large impact on the Capitals’ first-round series against the Flyers, even if it isn’t coming on the scoreboard.

“I think it’s a time when you have to not just score goals and do some offensive stuff, but you have to set the tone in different ways,” Ovechkin said Monday, prior to the Game 3 at Wells Fargo Center (6 p.m., Pregame Livce, CSN). “Physical game, smart play in the neutral zone, offensive zone, defensive zone, it doesn’t matter which area.

“It’s part of my game and I have to lead the way in that category and the boys are going to follow me.”

Remember those last seven words. At 30 years old, Ovechkin seems ready to heave the Capitals onto his broad shoulders and carry them, not so much with goals – although he had a big power-play blast to give the Caps a 3-1 lead in Game 2 – but with his will. In the first two games against the Flyers Ovechkin recorded a team-high 11 hits, with seven of them coming in Game 2.

“I think Alex is a physical player at the best of times, but in playoff time everything’s amped up and there’s no question he’s more physical,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “He’s a big body (6-foot-3, 239 pounds), he can skate; he’s a force.

“That’s why I say Alex is unique in this game because he’s one of the purest snipers in the game and he’s got the physical element. Not too many people in the league can even match it. He’s a weapon for us that’s a difference maker.”

Just ask Schenn.

“He’s 230 pounds that skates fast and can score goals," Schenn said. "But I think we can still do a better job (on him). I don’t think we’ve given him a whole lot 5-on-5, but he’s dangerous on the power play. He got his one chance (Saturday) night on the power play, and he made the most of it. ... He just stands there and waits for his one-timer.”

Schenn probably has the bruises to show Ovechkin does more than just wait for one-timers, but the Caps' captain is not done just yet.

Ovechkin said the Capitals will be up against their biggest challenge of the series in tonight’s Game 3 and said the Caps need to use the emotion in the building “to our advantage.” He also agrees with Trotz’s assertion the Caps have not yet played their best game of the series, which continues with Game 4 on Wednesday.

“We didn’t play our best game,” he said. “I think we took too many penalties (six in Game 2). We have to stay focused on playing 5-on-5 and use our power play. We can’t have five or six penalties in a game.”

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Team USA reclaims women's hockey gold from Canada in instant Olympic classic

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USA TODAY Sports Images

Team USA reclaims women's hockey gold from Canada in instant Olympic classic

GANGNEUNG, South Korea  -- The Americans' gold medal drought in women's hockey -- finally -- is over.

Even though they needed the first shootout in an Olympic women's final to do it.

Twenty long years after taking gold when the sport debuted in 1998 at Nagano, the United States snapped Canada's streak of four straight Olympic golds Thursday with a 3-2 shootout victory.

Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson scored in the sixth round of the shootout to start the Americans piling over the boards, throwing gloves in the air before huddling and hugging on the ice.

Gigi Marvin and Amanda Kessel also scored in the shootout. Monique Lamoureux-Morando tied it up with a breakaway with 6:21 left in regulation.

Hilary Knight also had a goal.

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Maddie Rooney made 29 saves for the win against their archrival. The 20-year-old goalie stopped the last two Canadian shooters in the shootout in Brianne Jenner and then Meghan Agosta on her second attempt.

It was sweet redemption for the 10 Americans who watched the Canadians snatch gold from their hands in 2014 at Sochi after tying it up with 54.6 seconds left in regulation and winning 3-2 in overtime.

Not only did the Americans snap the Canadians' stranglehold on Olympic gold, they ended a skid of five straight against their rival coming into this game, including a 2-1 loss to wrap up pool play a week ago.

Marie-Philip Poulin and Haley Irwin each scored goals for Canada. Agosta and Melodie Daoust scored in the shootout.

The Americans had been dominating in non-Olympic years, winning the last four and eight of the last 10 world championships, including a 3-2 overtime victory over Canada last spring.

Their domination on the world stage only made the lack of gold at the Olympics all the more noticeable, and Canada has been in their way since losing the inaugural gold in Nagano. Canada had won 24 straight Olympic games to go along with four consecutive gold medals. It's a streak of success in a women's team sport second only to the United States' basketball team's current streak of six straight gold.

This was the eighth time these North American rivals met in the Olympics and the fifth with gold on the line. None of the previous seven were decided by more than two goals.

U.S. coach Robb Stauber went with the 20-year-old Rooney in net for the biggest game of her career, but she was the goalie for each of the three games the Americans beat Canada last fall during their pre-Olympic exhibition tour, including Four Nations Cup title in November.

Canada had Shannon Szabados, 31, in goal for her third Olympic gold medal game, and her teammates made her job very easy by keeping the puck in front of Rooney for most of the first period by dictating play. The Americans couldn't use their speed or get organized even with two power plays until Sarah Nurse went in the box for interference late in the period.

Knight gave the U.S. a 1-0 lead with 25.4 seconds left in the first, redirecting a shot from Sidney Morin through Szabados' pads giving the Americans a jolt of energy.

That lasted only 2 minutes into the second when Irwin tipped a pass from Blayre Turnbull over Rooney's left leg for Canada. When Morin lost the puck, Melodie Daoust grabbed it and passed to Meghan Agosta who hit Poulin for the wrister into the left side of the net at 6:55 for a 2-1 lead.

 

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: The Caps add two defensemen, problem solved?

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NBC Sports Washington

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: The Caps add two defensemen, problem solved?

The Capitals got their trade deadline started early by trading for defensemen Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek. Washington has been struggling of late, but do their new acquisitions address the team's weaknesses?

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir evaluate the two trades and talk about where they could fit into the lineup.

You can listen to the latest episode here on the Capitals Faceoff page or with the player below.

Want even more great Capitals coverage? Follow @TarikNBCS and @JJReganNBCS on Twitter!