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Start of Capitals hockey still in doubt


Start of Capitals hockey still in doubt

Tonight could have been the start of something special for the Washington Capitals.


It could have been the NHL head coaching debut of elected Hockey Hall of Famer Adam Oates, going head-to-head against his former team, the New Jersey Devils, and his former head coach, Peter DeBoer.


It could have been a classic showdown between Russian snipers Alex Ovechkin and Ilya Kovalchuk and a chance for fans to see ways Oates has impacted both of their games.


It could have been a new chapter in the Braden Holtby story, a feel-good novel that captivated Caps fans last spring with one spectacular playoff performance after another.


It could have been a chance for veteran center Mike Ribeiro to dazzle fans with no-look passes that brought them out of their seats.


It could have been a chance for 18,506 fans to Rock The Red like they did in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Rangers when they staved off elimination with a thrilling 2-1 victory.


Instead, the corner of F and 6 Street will be eerily quiet tonight. No block party in front of The Green Turtle. No music playing at the entrance to the Metro.


No hockey in the nation’s capital.


And it may be a long time before that changes.


Today marks Day 27 of the NHL lockout and after negotiations between representatives of the NHL and its players broke off Thursday without proposals from either side, there is a real possibility the entire 2012-13 season is in peril


"It's a disappointment, there is no way around that," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told reporters Thursday. "I certainly hoped and would have expected we would be in a different place today. I would've expected we would've had an agreement, I would've expected we would have been dropping the puck.

"In retrospect, I look back at it, and while we were all hopeful during the course of the summer that there was plenty of time to get a deal done, maybe the fault lies in the fact that we didn't start negotiations until June 29. That goes back to the level of urgency maybe with the players' association and not being prepared to have those discussions."

Not surprisingly, NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr disagreed, saying the only proposal the NHL will entertain from the players is one that contains immediate rollbacks in player salaries.

"For most of the last few weeks, unless it was on their terms, unless we've had a proposal they don't seem very interested in discussing the core economics," Fehr said. "Let's keep in mind that they are the ones who started this with a request for a 24 per cent rollback, which they've inched back a little, in addition to putting proposals on the table that would severely limit and curtail player contracting rights which had the predictable result of provoking players.”

With $100 million in revenue already lost due to the cancellation of the preseason and another $150 million lost with the cancellation of the first two weeks of the regular season, both sides seem willing to wait each other out.


“At some point we've got to see a willingness from the players' association to compromise,” Daly said, “because they haven't shown any willingness to compromise at this point.”




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3 reasons the Caps beat the Sabres

3 reasons the Caps beat the Sabres

The Caps could not shake Buffalo for two periods, but a dominant finish on Saturday helped them pull away for a 5-1 win. Here's how they finally put away the Sabres.

A quick start

Strong starts go a long way towards helping a team in the middle of a slump. It's a confidence boost for a group in desperate need of one and the Caps got that boost on Saturday from Evgeny Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov used his wheels to zip in behind the defense and score just 50 seconds into the game. Washington led 1-0 at the end of the first, just the second time in 19 games they have held a lead after the opening 20 minutes.


Andre Burakovsky snapping a second period slump

It looked in the second period like the Caps were caught trying to protect the lead again, but Andre Burakovsky woke the team back up with his incredible highlight end-to-end goal. It really looked like Buffalo was going to tie the game at one, but instead, Burakovsky extended the lead to two. Going end to end the way he did shows a player who is starting to play with some confidence, something Burakovsky has lacked for much of the season.

Ovechkin's two-goal third period

Buffalo would not go away. Sam Reinhart got the Sabres on the board just 14 seconds into the third period and suddenly the Caps found themselves in a one-goal game again. But Ovechkin ended any hopes for the comeback as he struck in the top corner of the net on the power play from the office. He would later add a deflection goal to extend the lead to 5-1, giving a scuffling Washington team the dominant win they so sorely needed.

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3 stars of the game: Caps erupt in 3rd for dominant win over Sabres

3 stars of the game: Caps erupt in 3rd for dominant win over Sabres

The Capitals needed a win in the worst way and they got one, dispatching the Buffalo Sabres in dominating fashion with a 5-1 win.

Washington was locked in a tight game leading 2-0 heading into the third period when Sam Reinhart scored just 14 seconds into the period to pull Buffalo to within one. The Caps then slammed the door shut, scoring three unanswered goals to put away the Sabres.

Here are the three stars of the game.

1. Alex Ovechkin: This was career game No. 983 for Ovechkin, tying him for the franchise record for most games played with Calle Johansson. Ovechkin very fittingly celebrated the occasion with two goals. The first came on a power play goal from the office, but there was no need for a one-timer on this one. The Sabres gave him all the time he needed to aim up the shot and wrist it into the top corner.

He added a second goal late off a deflection from a John Carlson shot.

2. Evgeny Kuznetsov: To say the Caps have struggled at the start of games would be an understatement. In the last 18 games, Washington has held the lead after the first period only once. Kuznetsov made sure this game started off on the right foot as he scored just 50 seconds into the game. He turned on the jets in the neutral zone to turn the edge on Jason Pominville then easily skated around a weak, ill-advised challenge from Robin Lehner before flinging the puck into the yawning net.

It was the fastest goal to start a game by the Caps this season. It was just the start of what would be a four-point night for the Caps' center as he added three assists.

3. Andre Burakovsky: Burakovsky had the highlight of the game with his end-to-end goal in the second period to put Washington up 2-0. He looked like he was shot out of a cannon as he launched himself from the defensive zone, streaked down the center of the ice and in on net to slide the puck through the Lehner's five-hole.

Look how Burakovsky was able to slice through the Sabres' defense. Buffalo had him surrounded, but his speed caught the Sabres off-guard and they were not able to recover in time to actually slow him down.