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Ovechkin sets tone in Caps win


Ovechkin sets tone in Caps win

It was Alex Ovechins first shot on goal in over 69 minutes of play, spanning three Eastern Conference Semifinal games, and boy did it count.

Just a minute and 28 seconds into the first period, the Russian Dynamo took a centering pass from Nicklas Backstrom and fired a slapshot over the catching glove of Henrik Lundqvist. It gave the Capitals an early lead and a surge of momentum carried on by a crowd of 18,506 at the Verizon Center on Wednesday night.

It gave us some confidence, Nicklas Backstrom said. We had a good start there and just kept going.

You can see how we start the hockey game. We get the puck deep, finish our checks and move our legs. We got a penalty and scored a goal, Ovechkin said.

The penalty was a two-minute tripping call on Anton Stralman, the Ranger who scored first for New York in Game 5. Jason Chimera drew the penalty at the 1:13 mark and the Caps were able to take advantage of it just 15 seconds later.

On the power play Capitals coach Dale Hunter adjusted form to give Ovechkin a better chance to score. Ovi was in the middle of the offensive zone and in perfect position for a slapshot as Washington rotated the puck.

It was one of those changes we made, we thought that Ovi with his big shot there could get a shot off, Hunter said.

One of their players fouled and really left an opening and a shot from there by Ovi doesnt miss very often.

Ovechkins goal was the 30th in his young playoff career, tying him for most in franchise history with Peter Bondra. It was his third point in the last three games and his third goal of the series. Only four NHL players have scored more playoff goals since Ovechkins 2008 postseason debut.

He had a lot of energy, he blocked shots, Hunter said. Hes ready to go when hes called upon and he played a good game tonight.

Ovechkin had several other good chances, including a net-crashing shot off the post and another near-score while sliding on his rear. But more than anything, Ovechkin set the tone for his teammates. He propelled them early after a historic loss in Game 5, one of the most devastating playoff defeats the franchise has ever seen. The Rangers came into the game looking to put the killshot on what they presumed was a broken down bunch feeling the anxiety of a potential season-ending game.

It felt like we were pretty far from where we have to be to win a game like this. It felt like we were not really close until the last 20 seconds, Lundqvist said.

We just have to go back home now and regroup and save all the energy we have left and play our best game of the playoffs here.

The Caps once again find themselves in a Game 7 on the road, their season on the line countered with a chance to go to the Eastern Conference Finals. No Washington, D.C. sports team has made it to the semifinals of their sport since the Hunter-captained Capitals reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 1998. Ovechkin has an opportunity to lead his team to a place they have not been before as a group, and a city where it hasnt reached in 14 years.

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: How does Brooks Orpik really impact the Caps?

NBC Sports Washington

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: How does Brooks Orpik really impact the Caps?

No player on the Caps gets more scrutiny than defenseman Brooks Orpik. While the analytics aren't kind when he's on the ice, we got to see what the Caps looked like without him when he was scratched against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday and...well, his loss was noticeable.

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir discuss what Orpik's true impact on the Capitals really is both on and off the ice on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast. Plus, they also talk about John Carlson's monster season and Barry Trotz's new strategy for the goalies.

Listen to the latest episode in the player below or here on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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Caps prospect watch: Signing season?


Caps prospect watch: Signing season?

The 2018 NCAA Hockey Tournament bracket has been announced and only one Capitals prospect, Brian Pinho, is still in the running.

Providence College was selected as the No. 2 seed in the East Regional and will play No. 3 Clarkson in the first round on Friday, March 23 on ESPNU. The winner will play the winner of Notre Dame-Michigan Tech on Saturday with a chance to advance to the Frozen Four.

The college season is over for the rest of the Capitals' college prospects which begs the question, will any of them sign an entry-level deal with Washington?

In the spring when seasons end for colleges, junior leagues and European leagues, we see a flurry of signings across the NHL as teams sign their prospects and young free agents.

Among the Caps' college prospects, the most likely candidate to sign would be Shane Gersich. Gersich just wrapped up this third season at the University of North Dakota, finishing second on the team in goals (13) and tied for third in points (29). The Capitals will certainly make a push to sign him considering his talent and because if he returns to college for a fourth year, he stands to become a free agent on Aug. 15, 2019.

Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald reported Wednesday that North Dakota was still awaiting Gersich's decision on whether he planned to return to college.

Quinnipiac defenseman Chase Priskie is in a similar situation, but it he has decided to head back to school for another season.

“That wasn’t a season I’d want to leave on,” Priskie told the New Haven Register. “When I came here as a freshman I saw our senior class, Garteig, St. Denis, Soren Jonzzon, and they left such a legacy that guys still talk about them. Same for Sam Anas and Devon Toews. They were all such great players and some of the best people for our program. When I leave, I want to be talked about like they are.”


Other prospect notes:

  • For Pinho, now a senior at Providence, this marks an opportunity for him to finish his college career the same way he began, with a national championship. “I don’t think I realized at the time how hard it is just to get back to the tournament,” Pinho told the New Haven Register. “So that’s something we older guys have been telling the younger guys. You never know when you’re going to be back and you have to make the most of it when you’re there.” (You can read the full feature on Pinho here)
  • The end of the season may suddenly be near for goalie prospect Ilya Samsonov. Metallurg Magnitogorsk finds itself down 3-1 in its series with Ak Bars in the KHL playoffs meaning their season could be over as early as Friday. Of course, the big news to watch after that is whether or not Samsonov would come to North America. If he does, he would most likely go to Hershey to play for the Bears. With only 10 games remaining on Hershey's schedule, however, the sooner Samsonov's team is ousted from the playoffs, the better. At least from a Washington perspective.
  • All three of Washington's WHL prospects have reached the WHL playoffs. Moose Jaw (Dmitriy Zaitsev) finished with the best record in the league and will play Prince Albert in the first round. Swift Current (Beck Malenstyn) finished second in the East Division behind Moose Jaw and will play Regina. Everett (Garrett Pilon) won the U.S. Division and earned the top seed in the Western Conference. They will play Seattle in the first round.
  • Dmitriy Zaitsev remains out after taking an illegal hit last week. He did not play in either of Moose Jaw's final regular season games, but was a full participant in practice on Wednesday.
  • Adam Carlson has found his groove in Kansas City. Playing for the Mavericks of the ECHL, he won each of his two starts this past week allowing only one goal on 43 shots. He was named the 2nd star of the game for both games.
  • Madison Bowey recorded an assist on Friday and two more for Hershey on Saturday for three over the weekend in his first week back with the Bears. Bowey has spent the majority of the season with the Caps, but the additions of Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek at the trade deadline meant there were just too many bodies up in Washington and not enough playing time to go around. As Bowey is waiver exempt, he became the odd-man out and was sent to the AHL. It would not be surprising to see him recalled by Washington when the NHL playoffs begin.
  • Defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler brought his goal total up to five for the season with two goals against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Monday. The Bears really wanted to emphasize his offensive game this season to see if Siegenthaler could be developed into a two-way player. His strength is definitely is on the defensive end of the ice, but he will be a more versatile player if he can also be a threat offensively as well. You can see the highlights of Siegenthaler's two-goal game here:

  • Forward Hampus Gustafsson was recalled to Hershey last week and did not wait long to make an impact. He scored his first career AHL goal on Friday. He also added an assist making that game his first career multi-point game as well.
  • Tyler Lewington was suspended two games by the AHL for a punch he delivered to Bridgeport's Scott Eansor in Friday's game.

Who are the Caps' top 10 prospects? Find out here in this week's updated rankings