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Ovechkin's big night fuels Caps to win over Leafs

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Ovechkin's big night fuels Caps to win over Leafs

Barry Trotz wasn’t crazy about the overall game Alex Ovechkin played against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night but he’s smart enough to know that without him the Capitals probably don’t pull out a wild 3-2 shootout victory.

Ovechkin tied Sergei Fedorov atop the Russian goal-scoring mountain with his 483rd career goal, had his record-breaking goal overturned because of a hotly disputed goalie interference call, then netted the only goal of the shootout to give the Caps their 10th win of the season.

“That’s what Ovi has done here for a long time,” Trotz said. “Big goals at big times and he got it done today.

“And it really wasn’t one of his best games, honestly. But when you need him to step up he does. That’s what stars do and he’s a star, a gold star.”

The win ran the Capitals’ record to 10-3-0 and dropped the hard-luck Leafs to 2-8-4.

The Capitals appeared to tie the score with 2:39 to play when Ovechkin scored what everyone in the building thought was an historic goal – except for the folks in the NHL war room, which happens to be located in Toronto.

Ovechkin backhanded a shot over Leafs goalie James Reimer and celebrated by taking off his glove and raising his index finger into the air, thinking he just became the highest scoring Russian in NHL history with goal No. 484. 

But after a lengthy review, the goal was taken away from the Capitals’ 30-year-old captain.

“Last year it would be a good goal but it’s something new for us,” Ovechkin said. “I don’t know who makes the call, the referees or the guys from Toronto, but it is what it is. 

“Obviously, it sucks. You think like, OK, you’re number one. But you’re not. So you have to think about the game.”

RELATED: Ovechkin ties Fedorov as top Russian goal scorer

Williams was seething on the bench when the goal was overturned and he didn’t hide his feelings after the game. 

“I knew instantly when I got back to the bench they were going to challenge it,” Williams said. “I thought I went to the net and did everything I could not to touch the goalie and I don’t think I was interfering with him when the shot was taken. But it was disallowed. 

“I don’t care. I’ll say it. I don’t like it. I don’t like it at all.”  

Neither did Trotz, who has had three of four reviews this season go against his team.

“The way I looked at it, we put the puck to the net,” Trotz said. “Williams was there and in my opinion Reimer gets outside the crease and into Williams. (Williams is) trying to sidestep him. I don’t know if Reimer would have been in any position to save it if he doesn’t do that. It’s very gray.”

That gray turned to a sea of red when, with 0.8 seconds remaining in regulation, Nicklas Backstrom swatted a bouncing puck over an outstretched Reimer to send the crowd into a frenzy and the game into overtime.

“Everyone was excited,” said Backstrom, who was nearly toppled over by Ovechkin’s leap onto his shoulders. “(I’m glad) no one got hurt.”

MORE CAPITALS: Caps win wild one after Backstrom ties it late

Tom Wilson, who had taken a penalty earlier in the third period that led to the Leafs’ game-tying goal, noticed a few seats were empty when Backstrom netted the game-tying goal.

“I saw a couple fans walk out after Ovi's goal was disallowed,” Wilson said, “and they're going to be a little upset they did that, I think.”

The two teams traded chances in the 3-on-3 overtime before it came down to a shootout. After T.J. Oshie rang one of the crossbare, Evgeny Kuznetsov put one off the post and Backstrom was stopped by Reimer’s right pad, Ovechkin outwaited Reimer to go top shelf for the game-winner.

Braden Holtby did the rest, stopping consecutive shootout attempts by P.A. Parenteau, Tyler Bozak, Joffrey Lupul and Nazem Kadri.

“I’m glad because the guys picked me up after the first goal, which I should have had,” Holtby said. “Luck wasn’t going our way and we stuck with it. It pays off when your leader scores at the end of the game like that.”

In the end, it was hard to tell whether Holtby was talking about Backstrom, Ovechkin or both. 

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Caps make second blue line addition, acquire Jakub Jerabek from Montreal

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Caps make second blue line addition, acquire Jakub Jerabek from Montreal

The Capitals continued to retool their scuffling blue line on Wednesday, acquiring 26-year-old defenseman Jakub Jerabek from Montreal in exchange for a fifth-round pick in 2019.

The move comes a couple of days after GM Brian MacLellan dealt a conditional third-round selection to Chicago for swift skating Michal Kempny.

Both Jerabek and Kempny are left shot, puck-moving defensemen who move well and make crisp outlet passes. Both also hail from the Czech Republic.

RELATED: BRADEN HOLTBY BLAMES HIMSELF FOR TAMPA LOSS

The team sees Jerabek as a No. 5 or 6, I’m told.

On Wednesday, the Caps also officially said goodbye to Taylor Chorney, who was claimed off waivers by Columbus. Chorney will report to the Blue Jackets.

The Caps were off on Wednesday as they made their way Florida for Thursday night’s meeting with the Panthers, so it’s unclear how Coach Barry Trotz intends to deploy his new defensemen.

But it’s probably safe to assume that Kempny will move into a spot within the top four with John Carlson, Dmitry Orlov and Matt Niskanen.

MORE CAPITALS: GET TO KNOW MICHAL KEMPNY

That figures to leave Brooks Orpik and Jerabek on the third pair, while rookies Christian Djoos and Madison Bowey jockey for position as the next man up.

Kempny is expected to make his Caps’ debut on Thursday night.

Is the Caps’ D corps better? Well, that remains to be seen. But it had become clear to MacLellan and Co. in recent weeks that the status quo was not going to cut it. This month, in fact, the team has allowed 39 goals in 10 games. Only the Rangers (40) have allowed more in the same span.

With the trade deadline looming next Monday, the Caps now have roughly $617,000 in cap space, according to www.capfriendly.com, and are at the roster maximum of 23 players. So they would need to make a move in order to add another body.

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NHL Trade Tracker 2018: Latest deadline rumors, deals

NHL Trade Tracker 2018: Latest deadline rumors, deals

The 2018 NHL Trade Deadline is nearly here, marking the final point in the season teams can make major shakeups before preparing for the stretch run and the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The 2018 NHL Trade Deadline takes place a week earlier than in 2017, and teams have until 3:00 p.m. ET on Monday afternoon, February 26 to make their final pre-deadline deals. That being said, the trade deadline is not the end of player movement in 2018, but signifies the end of the open trade window.

But with less than w eek left, the trade rumors are swirling, with teams putting out feelers and reaching out to potential trade partners.

The Capitals started the trade deadline period a week early, with a minor trade on Monday and another on Wednesday.

RELATED: TRACKING THE FAVORITES TO WIN NHL AWARDS

2018 NHL TRADE DEADLINE TRACKER:

February 21: TRADE — The Montreal Canadiens trade D Jakub Jerabek to the Washington Capitals for a fifth-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. (TRADE ANALYSIS)

February 21: RUMOR — The Columbus Blue Jackets have shown interest in acquiring Artem Anisimov from the Chicago Blackhawks, a team attempting a major rebuild toward the end of the 2017-18 season.

February 20: TRADE — The Toronto Maple Leafs trade C Erif Fehr to the San Jose Sharks for a seventh-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft.

February 20: RUMOR — The Ottawa Senators are looking to deal D Erik Karlsson and C Bobby Ryan. The Sens have already begun to enter "tank" mode. Moving Karlsson and/or Ryan would make it all but official.

February 20: TRADE — The New York Rangers trade D Nick Holden to the Boston Bruins for D Rob O'Gara and a third-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft.

February 19: TRADE — The Chicago Blackhawks trade D Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals for a third-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft. (TRADE ANALYSIS)

February 19: RUMOR — The Anaheim Ducks look to be targeting Vancouver Canucks LW Thomas Vanek, but the Canucks may 'kick tires" on a potential trade if the return isn't right. 

February 19: TRADE — The Detroit Red Wings trade G Petr Mrazek to the Philadelphia Flyers for a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft and a conditional third-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.

February 19: RUMOR — The Pittsburgh Penguins are interested in pursuing speedy New York Rangers RW Michael Grabner.

February 17: RUMOR — The Ottawa Senators' fire sale continues to heat up. The St. Louis Blues are reportedly interested in Senators RW Mike Hoffman and C Derick Brassard.

February 15: TRADE — Toronto Maple Leafs trade RW Nikita Soshnikov to the St. Louis Blues for a fourth-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.

February 15: TRADE — The Chicago Blackhawks trade D Ville Pokka to the Ottawa Senators for LW Chris DiDomenico.

February 13: RUMOR — New York Rangers LW Rick Nash is rumored to be a major trade target for virtually every team within playoff reach. The Nashville Predators have been rumored to be the favorites for the former No. 1 overall draft pick.

February 13: TRADE — The Los Angeles Kings trade RW Marian Gaborik and C Nick Shore to the Ottawa Senators for D Dion Phaneuf and C Nate Thompson.