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Prospect report: Ilya Samsonov steals the show in World Juniors

Prospect report: Ilya Samsonov steals the show in World Juniors

Hershey update: 18-7-5-2, 4th in the Atlantic Division. Last week: 1-1-0-0

News broke last week that Madison Bowey, one of the Caps’ top defensive prospects, would be out indefinitely after suffering a cut by a skate to the tendon in his ankle.

Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir caught up with Bowey last week to talk to him about the injury. The projected time frame for the injury at this point is three months which would mean he would return at the beginning of April.

On the ice this week, Liam O’Brien put on a show for the Bears in Friday’s win over Bridgeport. O’Brien scored two goals and an assist in the game.

Watch the highlights here:

The game was the first three-point game of O’Brien’s career. He now has 18 points on the season, two more than he had in all of last season.

With the Caps currently carrying only 12 forwards on the roster, a call up from Hershey is imminent. Now is a good time for a player like O’Brien to be showcasing his talent.

When thinking about the team’s prospects in Hershey, O’Brien is not the player many jump to when considering who the Caps may call up. He is a gritty forward who is not afraid to drop the gloves. He played in 13 games for the Caps in 2014-15 scoring one goal and one assist. But O’Brien is proving he can me more than just an agitator this season.

"In the past, you'd think of him as maybe a tough guy, fourth-line left-winger, try to get him some penalty-kill time, try to turn the momentum," Hershey head coach Troy Mann said, "but now he's able to do that and contribute offensively, as you saw on the pass to Stephenson on the first goal."

It has been a tough season for Stanislav Galiev who has been limited to only 15 games due to injury. But the Russian forward had a good week with one goal and two assists including a great spin move to set up Brad Malone for the goal (see it in the video above). Malone made the play harder than it needed to be as Galive fed him the puck on his forehand with an empty net yawning, but Malone elected to deke and go for the five-hole rather than take the easy goal. Luckily, he still was able to finish the play.

Zach Sanford scored the Bears’ lone goal in a 4-1 loss to Providence on Saturday. In just nine games with Hershey, Sanford already has five goals and four assists.

RELATED:Orpik among the many Capitals amped up for Jackets

Other prospect notes:

Ilya Samsonov had a rough start tot the World Junior tournament allowing five goals against Canada, but he has played very well ever since.

On Dec. 29 in Russia’s first game against USA, Samsonov made 34 saves in a 3-2 loss. He followed that performance with two shutouts against Slovakia and Denmark. The in Wednesday’s semifinal rematch with USA< Samsonov really kept Russia in it for much of the game, making 40 saves in the 4-3 shootout loss.

You can see highlights of all four games he played over the past week here: USA (first round), Slovakia, Denmark, USA (semifinal)

It’s important to keep in mind while watching Samsonov that he is 19 years old and still very much a work in progress. You can see he over commits on a few goals and is slow to react on others, especially when dealing with a screen. The third goal he allowed in the semifinal game is ugly. That’s one he has to have.

But the junior tournament also highlighted Samsonov’s raw potential. He is similar to Braden Holtby in that he seems to play with an aggressive style. He is quick with the poke check which he used to stop a penalty shot in Russia’s first game with USA. While the third goal in the semifinal game was bad, he also came up with a big glove save on a penalty shot to keep the deficit at one in the third period. That was a big-time save in a big-time moment.

Samsonov has a 2.33 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage at the World Juniors. There have been only four shutouts in the entire tournament and he has two of them.

Russia will play in the third-place game against Sweden on Thursday.

It was also a successful tournament for the Caps’ two Swiss prospects, Jonas Siegenthaler and Damien Riat. Both players tied for second on the team in points with 1 goal and five assists each. Siegenthaler’s six points have him tied for second among all defensemen.

The reviews of Siegenthaler were particularly glowing as the young defenseman proved to be the Switzerland’s workhorse on the blue line. He led the team in ice time with an average of 25 minutes per game.

TSN analyst Craig Button also named Siegenthaler as a junior all-star.

In the college ranks, Chase Priskie tallied one goal and one assist in the Three Rivers Classic for Quinnipiac and was named to the All-Tournament team. Brian Pinho recorded three assists in Providence’s two games and now leads the team in points with 17 in 18 games.

Forward Beck Malenstyn had an impressive week in the WHL as he scored three goals and one assist in three games for the Calgary Hitmen. He now leads the team in goals with 16 and is second on the team in points with 25.

South Carolina goalie Adam Carlson was scratched from his start last week. He was not on the bench for either of the Stingrays’ games this week and is listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed injury.

MORE CAPITALS: 3 bold predictions: Can Caps halt Columbus' win streak?

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4 reasons the Caps beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

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USA TODAY Sports

4 reasons the Caps beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

The Caps put together their best performance of the series Thursday in a 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 4 of their 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs first-round series.

he win pulled Washington even with Columbus in the series 2-2.

Here's how the Caps got the big win.

4 Reasons why the Capitals beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

1. Tom Wilson factors in the offense

Wilson’s hands are good for more than just punching.

He proved that again on Thursday as he scored the first goal for the second consecutive game. Chandler Stephenson and John Carlson provided the pressure on Sergei Bobrovsky. With Bobrovsky scrambling in the crease, Evgeny Kuznetsov passed the puck back to Wilson who fired the one-timer past the Columbus netminder.

In the first two games of the series, Wilson had no points and no shots. In the last two games, he has two goals and 13 shots on goal.

2. A great keep-in by John Carlson

We saw how dangerous it was when penalty killers fail to clear the puck in Game 1 when the Caps failed to clear in the third period leading to the game-tying power play goal.

In Game 4, the roles were reversed. Trying to kill off an Artemi Panarin penalty, Cam Atkinson attempted to clear the puck with the backhand. Carlson skillfully corralled the puck out of the air at the blue line to keep it in the zone.

The power play was able to reset and T.J. Oshie scored the rebound goal soon after.

3. Braden Holtby closes the door to finish the second period

After the Caps took the 2-0 lead, the Blue Jackets made a late push to try to pull one back.

In the last 10 minutes of the second period, Columbus had 13 shot attempts, five of which were not net. Several of those shots were high-quality opportunities, but Holtby came up with the big saves that the team was not getting earlier in the series.

His play ensured the Caps took the 2-0 lead to the locker room.

4. Alex Ovechkin extends the lead to three

Washington entered the third period up 2-0. In each of the first three games, the Caps held a two-goal lead and allowed the Blue Jackets to battle back and tie the score. Even with a two-goal lead, it still felt at the start of the third that the next goal would decide the game. If Columbus pulled within one and got the crowd back on their side, we have seen what that momentum can do for them.

This time, however, Ovechkin struck first. After a board battle behind the net, the puck trickled out to the faceoff circle. Ovechkin grabbed it and quickly snapped the puck past Bobrovsky before anyone could react.

The goal gave Washington their first three-goal lead of the series and shut the Blue Jackets’ comeback down before it could begin.

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Tarik's 3 stars: Ovechkin said Caps would even the series, on Thursday, he helped them do it

Tarik's 3 stars: Ovechkin said Caps would even the series, on Thursday, he helped them do it

COLUMBUS — Alex Ovechkin confidently predicted earlier this week that the Caps were going to win twice at Nationwide Arena and take their first round series back to Washington knotted, two games apiece.

And, on Thursday night, that’s exactly what Ovechkin made sure his team did.

No. 8, who was playing in his franchise-record 101st playoff game, scored his third goal of the playoffs early in the final frame and the Caps beat the Blue Jackets 4-1 in Game 4.

Tarik’s Three Stars of Capitals-Blue Jackets Game 4

1. Tom Wilson, Capitals

After a slow (and penalty plagued) start to this series, Wilson has become a force. Yes, he took another minor.

But the good is far outweighing the bad these days. Big Willy recorded a goal, an assist and a team-high seven shots.  

2. Braden Holtby, Capitals

Holtby had his best game in, well, a long time. He stopped 23 shots, including all eight he saw in a contentious second period.

The goal he surrendered was a nearly unstoppable tip-in by Boone Jenner.

3. T.J. Oshie, Capitals

Osh just plays the game so dang hard.

So it should come as no surprise that he delivered in his team’s biggest game of the season to this point. Oshie, of course, scored the game-winning goal on the power play midway through the second period. It was No. 77’s second tally of the series.

Agree? Disagree?

Let us know what you think in the comments.