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Third-round draft pick Pilon's scoring punch better than his father's

Third-round draft pick Pilon's scoring punch better than his father's

Someday, when his children or grandchildren ask him where he was when the Washington Capitals selected him in the 2016 NHL draft, Garrett Pilon will dazzle them with this answer:

 “I was looking for my car keys in the cushions,” Pilon said with a chuckle.

“I popped my head up and saw my name on TV.”

OK, so it wasn’t the stuff of legend and far less grandiose than Caps first-round pick Lucas Johansson sharing his big moment with his parents and NHL All-Star brother, Ryan, in the stands at First Niagara Center in Buffalo.

Pilon, a 5-foot-10, 174-pound center who put up 15 goals and 32 assists in 71 games for the Kamloops Blazers last season, decided not to fly to Buffalo from his family’s home in Saskatoon because he didn’t want to be disappointed waiting for an NHL team to call his name at the draft.

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So, when the Capitals took him in the third round (No. 87 overall) on Saturday, Pilon was getting ready to go to the gym, a trip delayed by his missing car keys.

Pilon celebrated his moment with his older sister and mother, then hopped in his mom’s car to inform his dad, former NHL tough guy Rich Pilon, of the good news.

Rich Pilon was having breakfast at a nearby Tim Horton’s coffee shop.

Caps fans will remember Rich Pilon as a 6-0, 216-pound, hard-hitting defenseman who fought 75 different NHL players during his 14-year career, recording 1,745 penalty minutes and eight goals in 631 games for the  Islanders, Rangers and Blues.

“I have seen a couple of them and if I was on the other team I’d be a little scared,” said Garrett Pilon, who is attending this week’s Caps development camp. “I see the long hair and the broken nose and he’s ripping off his visor and I’m like, ‘Oh my God.’”

That, Garrett, promises, won’t be him.

“I haven’t gotten in a fight yet,” he said. “Most of the guys I get into scrums with are 6-5, so I kind of back away. I don’t like to get into it with guys that big.”

Pilon said he was just 5-foot-2 when he was drafted by Kamloops of the Western League and has always considered himself a bit of an underdog.

Before going to Kamloops he put up 87 points in 44 games for his hometown Saskatoon Contacts.

Pilon thanked his father, now 48, for teaching him the importance of playing a 200-foot game. He also thinks he benefited from hanging around the Blues' locker room as a young boy during his father’s final NHL season with the Blues, when he remembers sitting in the stall of former goalie Fred Brathwaite and chewing bubble gum.

This week, Pilon is surrounded by 29 other Capitals prospects with the same hopes and dreams as him. On Friday they will take a tour of Verizon Center and visualize where they could be playing within a few years.

“ It’s a little bit overwhelming,” Pilon said. “It’s happened really quick. I found out I was drafted on Saturday, I was on a plane at 5:30 in the morning Sunday and I’m soaking it all in right now.

“You can really tell it’s the next level. The meetings, the detail, the work you put in. The next level is a big jump and this is an eye opener. We’re learning what it will take to get to the big leagues.

“It’s more incentive to work harder when you see all these nice rooms and nice facilities. You want to be here.”

RELATED: WHAT TO MAKE OF THE NHL'S WILD WEDNESDAY

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Game 6 Capitals at Blue Jackets Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

Game 6 Capitals at Blue Jackets Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

After three straight wins, the Caps now sit just one win away from closing out the Columbus Blue Jackets. They will get their shot to finish the series Monday in Game 6.

Nicklas Backstrom was the hero in Game 5 for Washington with three points including the overtime winner. Who will step up in Game 6? The Caps will need to make sure it's not Artemi Panarin who has been held without a point in two straight games. Washington will also need to make sure their penalty kill stays hot as they have killed off 13 straight power plays for the Blue Jackets.

The Pittsburgh Penguins await the winner of this series after closing out the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday. Will the Caps close out Columbus and set up the rematch?

What: Washington Capitals vs. Columbus Blue Jackets, Round 1, Game 6

Where: Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio

When: 7:30 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 6 will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 6 on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

The Capitals take on the Blue Jackets in Game 6 on Monday, April 23 at 7:30 p.m. ET in Columbus. Washington currently leads the series 3-2.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME ON?

Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 6 will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:30 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 7:00 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:30 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:30 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:30 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
7:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:30 p.m. — Capitals at Blue Jackets
10:00 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:30 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

Capitals-Blue Jackets Game 6, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

Here are the Caps' projected lines:

Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Tom Wilson
Chandler Stephenson - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly- Lars Eller - Devante Smith-Pelly
Jakub Vrana -  Jay Beagle - Alex Chiasson

Michal Kempny - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Christian Djoos

Braden Holtby with Philipp Grubauer as backup.

Scratches: Travis Boyd, Andre Burakovsky (upper-body), Shane Gerisch, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek

CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

SEE THE CAPITALS VS. BLUE JACKETS FULL SERIES SCHEDULE HERE

CAPITALS SCHEDULE

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Capitals one win away from facing the Penguins ... again

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USA Today Sports Images

Capitals one win away from facing the Penguins ... again

The Washington Capitals are one win away from advancing to the second round of the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs

If they do beat the Blue Jackets in Game 6 or Game 7, a familiar foe awaits them.

The Pittsburgh Penguins ended their series against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday with a 8-5 win in Game 6. They will play the winner of the Capitals-Columbus Blue Jackets series.

Because of course they will.

The Penguins have beaten the Capitals in the second round in each of the past two seasons. The series went six games in 2016 and seven in 2017.

Washington’s biggest rival has been a thorn in the side of the Caps throughout the team’s history. Washington and Pittsburgh have met in the postseason 10 times. Only once have the Caps come out victorious, in 1994.

Pittsburgh has won five Stanley Cups in their history and each time, they had to beat the Caps in the playoffs to do it.

The emergence of Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin helped to reignite the Washington-Pittsburgh rivalry, but that too has been one sided. Crosby has won three Stanley Cups while Ovechkin has never advanced past the second round.

Before you despair, however, consider this. Coming into the season, no one knew what to expect from the Capitals. Expectations were low. Somehow, Washington managed to overcome the loss of several players in the offseason and managed to win the Metropolitan Division.

In a season in which the Caps have already defied expectations, perhaps this will be the year they finally get past Pittsburgh and advance to the conference final. Maybe? Please?

First things first, they still need one more win against Columbus. Game 6 will be Monday at 7:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.

MORE CAPITALS:
How the Caps stymied Artemi Panarin
Nick Backstrom's Game 5 heroics, explained
Capitals' PK unit the series difference-maker
John Tortorella makes Game 7 proclamation