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Ovechkin says Kirilenko good for him


Ovechkin says Kirilenko good for him

They are a match made in tabloid heaven.

Alex Ovechkin, the burly, jut-jawed captain of the Washington Capitals. Maria Kirilenko, the stunningly beautiful princess of Russian tennis.

OK, so they havent quite reached the celebrity status of Brad and Angelina, William and Kate or Justin and Selena. But if youve been watching any womens tennis lately, youve probably spotted Ovechkin cheering on his girlfriend from the stands.

So just how many of Kirilenkos matches did the Capitals captain take in this summer?

Every match, he told CSNWashington on Friday. It was fun. It was something good for me to support her. Its something I like to do when I have time off and I have vacation.

Ovechkin, who will turn 27 on Sept. 17, and Kirilenko, who will turn 26 in January, are both from Moscow. They began dating early last season, although Ovechkin admits it was a long-distance relationship at first.

We were always on the phone or on Skype, Ovechkin said. Later in the season three times she come here, so she was here a lot. Its good. Its the kind of relationship I like.

Ovechkin accompanied Kirilenko to Wimbledon, where she reached the quarterfinals, and to the Summer Olympics in London, where she lost in the semifinals to silver medalist Maria Sharapova.

Kirilenko came home from London with a bronze medal after she and Nadia Petrova upset the No. 1-ranked doubles team of Lisa Raymond and Liezel Huber. She has recently risen to 12th in the WTA ranking, her highest ever.

London was cool for the Olympics and Wimbledon was unbelievable, Ovechkin said.

I met great athletes and great people. Just to see how the best tennis players prepare, what they do before, how they warm up, its always nice to see what different players do.

Ovechkin said he would arrive at stadiums 3 hours before Kirlenkos matches.

Its a lot of waiting, he said, but its something exciting.

Before meeting Kirilenko, Ovechkin admits he knew nothing about tennis. But he played a lot of it this summer.

Tennis helps me a lot to be in good shape, Ovechkin said. When youre not practicing and eating food and watching you get out of shape. But I was always running and moving when I played.

In following the WTA tour Ovechkin said he quickly realized what the rest of the tennis world already knows Serena Williams is nearly unbeatable.

I think Serena right now is the best, Ovechkin said. Shes just a machine, especially in the Olympics, beating everyone 6-0, 6-1. Shes amazing.

It was during the Olympics that Ovechkin tweeted out photos of him and Kirilenko, including one that showed a large ring on the ring finger of her left hand.

So, is the sound of wedding bells in the air for two of Russias most eligible athletes?

Oh, no, Ovechkin said. Just a present from me, thats all. No engagement. No wedding bells.

At least not yet.

We have a good relationship, he said. Its always nice to have that kind of person around you. Its good.

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John Carlson gets the better of John Klingberg in duel of top defensemen


John Carlson gets the better of John Klingberg in duel of top defensemen

One week ago, the hockey world was captivated by the matchup of Alex Ovechkin and Patrik Laine, two players battling for the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy as the NHL's leading scorer. Tuesday's matchup between the Washington Capitals and Dallas Stars once again pitted two competitors locked in a point battle together in John Carlson and John Klingberg.

Carlson and Klingberg entered Tuesday's games with 59 points each, tied for the league lead in points among defensemen. In a 4-3 win for Washington, both defensemen delivered phenomenal performances as each recorded two points, two assists for Klingberg and a goal and an assist for Carlson.

Tuesday's game was the latest example this season of Carlson rising to the occasion. He has been at his best when he has been needed the most such as when he was averaging 27:46 of ice time a night while Matt Niskanen was out injured.


Carlson's ability to deliver has not gone unnoticed by his teammates.

"John's having just a whale of a year, obviously," Niskanen said. "Monster year. Production, been carrying the load all year. He's been just a stalwart back there for us. He leads the way."

"The numbers don't lie, he's been having an unreal season," T.J. Oshie said. "Definitely on the points side of things, but maybe some parts that don't get talked about, the defensive side of things. He rarely loses a battle. It's very encouraging, it gets the bench going when he plays like that."

After the game, Carlson tried to downplay the notion that he elevated his game in response to playing against Klingberg.

"No," Carlson said when asked if he was motivated by the points race. "I think the guys do a good job of pumping that up in the locker room. I just want to go out there and win. I think we played a good game tonight so that's most important."

But while his words were subdued, his play was anything but.

Despite both players getting two points, Carlson got the better of his counterpart by scoring the game-winning goal in the third period, a one-timer slap shot to beat goalie Kari Lehtnonen, to lead Washington to the win.


Carlson may say he was not motivated by Klingberg, but his play certainly seemed to suggest otherwise.

"I think they both know, they know the stats," Barry Trotz said. "They know who they're lined up [against]. They're proud athletes. You're in a business where there's a lot of alpha males. That's what it is."

Of course, Carlson may not need a matchup with Klingberg to motivate him.

In the final year of his contract, Carlson has picked a good time to set new career highs in goals, assist and points. With a cap hit of just under $4 million, the 28-year-old blueliner will be due a significant raise in the offseason. That price tag continues to climb with every good performance as Carlson continues to cement himself among the league's top defensemen.

"Obviously he's very motivated," Trotz said. "He's in the last year of his contract. He'll be motivated. He's putting out points. He's gotten better and better. He's more poised every year. When he's intense and detailed in his game, he's a top defenseman in the league and he shows it."

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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.