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While Kings celebrate, Bernier languishes

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While Kings celebrate, Bernier languishes

Remember how awful Joel Ward felt when his double minor for high-sticking in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals led to the Rangers game-tying and game-winning goals and ultimately altered the course of the Capitals magical playoff run?

Now you know how Devils forward Steve Bernier feels this morning.

Bernier was assessed a major for boarding and a game misconduct early in Monday nights 6-1 loss to the Kings after slamming defenseman Rob Scuderi from behind midway through the first period.

Scuderi suffered cuts to his nose and mouth and Bernier was escorted off the ice and into an empty visitors dressing room, where he heard three loud roars from the Staples Center crowd, a sobering indication that the Kings had scored three power-play goals on their road to their first-ever Stanley Cup.

Its extremely hard, Bernier told reporters after the game. It's been a long playoff run for us and we had a lot of good things going for us. To finish on that note, its not fun, for sure. But at the same time, there's nothing I can do now.

Bernier still thinks a major penalty was not warranted for his hit on Scuderi, who returned for the start of the second period.

From my point of view, I dont, Bernier said. I know he stayed down. After that, I didn't see anything. It's a fast game. There were hard hits all over the ice. You want to help your team, you don't want to get five minutes and help them lose.

I'm going to finish my hit. I thought he was going to keep going forward and he put on the brakes. At the time, I was already committed to the hit. It's tough to stop when you get there that fast. I feel bad, for sure. I wish I could take that play back.

The Devils bench was infuriated at the call, especially since it came seconds after the Kings Jarret Stoll ran Devils forward Stephen Gionta into the boards from behind without a call. As NBC analyst Keith Jones pointed out between periods, if a call on Stoll is made, the hit on Scuderi never happens.

To their credit, the Devils controlled their anger after the game, which turned into a rout.

You know, tonight is about L.A. and letting them celebrate, Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. If you want to ask me about that in about a week, I'll give you my honest opinion on it.

Devils captain Zach Parise was equally controlled.

Trust me, he said, I'd love to sound off on that right now.

Much like the Capitals rallied around Ward after their Game 5 loss, the Devils showed support for Bernier.

I told him not to worry about it,Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur said. It's not his fault. I'm sure he's blaming himself. That's the nature to do that. That was a big effect on the game. But again, he plays the game and we got success from him because of the way he played. I think it's just an unfortunate call. I didn't see it, so I can't judge if it was a bad call or a good call. It took us out of our chance to win a Stanley Cup.

It was just an unfortunate situation for a player who plays the game really hard," Brodeur said. "He's going to have to live with that and I don't think it's a fair thing. That's what happens when one person has the fate of a hockey game in their hands.

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3 reasons why the Caps beat the Sabres

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3 reasons why the Caps beat the Sabres

You may think this was an ugly four-game road trip for the Caps, but with a 3-2 win in Buffalo on Monday, Washington managed to earn five out of a possible eight points.

Here is why the Caps beat the Sabres and managed to save the road swing.

A missed high-stick (maybe) from Ovechkin

Ovechkin scored the first goal of the game in the second period as he deflected a high-shot from Christian Djoos down past goalie Chad Johnson. But did the deflection come on a high stick? The play was reviewed and the goal was ultimately upheld. According to the NHL, it was determined that "video review supported the Referee's call on the ice that Alex Ovechkin's stick was at or below the height of the crossbar when he tipped the puck into the Buffalo net."

RELATED: CHECK OUT THE 3 STARS OF THE GAME FROM CAPS-SABRES

NBC Sports Washington analyst Alan May broke the play down during the second intermission and made his case for why the NHL actually got the call wrong.

Was that a high stick? I don't know. As compelling an argument as May made, it still looks inconclusive which means the review made the right call. What surprises me is that the referee did not disallow the goal on the initial call.

Whether the review is truly inconclusive or flat out wrong, Washington was fortunate to walk away from this sequence with the goal.

MORE CAPITALS: BIZARRE SEQUENCE LEADS TO CAPS SCORING AND GETTING PENALIZED AT THE SAME TIME

A centimeter of ice

Hockey is a game of inches and it took less than an inch to put Washington up 2-0. When an Evgeny Kuznetsov shot hit off the boards and bounced back to the front of the net, it sparked a scrum next to goalie Chad Johnson. Eventually, John Carlson was able to get a swipe on the puck sending it trickling to the goal line, but Kyle Okposo was there waiting and appeared to kick it out just before it crossed. A review triggered by the Situation Room, however, revealed that the puck had just barely managed to cross the goal line before Okposo got to it.

Here's the view the NHL released after the review:

Philipp Grubauer's third period

After dominating the first 40 minutes of the game and taking a 2-0 lead, Buffalo predictably made a late push in the third period with two goals to pull within one. Washington outshot the Sabres in the first and second periods, but Buffalo reversed that trend in a big way in the third as they outshot the Caps 17-6. Grubauer turned aside 15 of those shots and was impressive after barely being tested in the first two periods.

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3 stars of the game: Caps knockout the punchless Sabres

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3 stars of the game: Caps knockout the punchless Sabres

Coming off an ugly 7-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, a Buffalo Sabres team missing star Jack Eichel was just what the doctor ordered for the Caps to get back on track. Washington dominated the first two periods and then survived a late surge from Buffalo for the 3-2 win.

After battling to a scoreless first, Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson spotted Washington a 2-0 lead in the second. They then held on in the third period as Buffalo began to tilt the ice in their favor, with Evgeny Kuznetsov scoring the empty-netter to put this game out of reach. Evander Kane would pull Buffalo within one, but with only three seconds left it was too little, too late.

Here are the three stars of the game:

1. Alex Ovechkin: Ovechkin opened up the scoring in the second period as he deflected down an innocent shot from Christian Djoos past Chad Johnson. Ovechkin also set a physical tone as he battled with defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen all game long. After taking a high elbow from Ristolainen early in the game Ovechkin skated up to Ristolainen prior to the faceoff on his next shift and let him know that it was on. 

2. John Carlson: Carlson had a hand in both of Washington's goals on Monday. He recorded a secondary assist on Ovechkin's goal as he made a blue line pass to Djoos which Djoos fired on net and Ovechkin deflected. Carlson then managed to hit the puck past the goal line in a scrum next to Johnson. It looked initially like Kyle Okposo had managed to kick out the puck just before it crossed, but Carlson was awarded the goal as a review showed the puck had completely crossed the line.

3. Philipp Grubauer: A Sabres team that ranks last in the NHL in scoring and that was also without its leading scorer did not test Grubauer much in the first two periods. Facing a 2-0 deficit, however, Buffalo made a third period push to try to tie the game, but Grubauer was up to the task as he turned aside 15 of the 17 shots he faced in the final 20 minutes. He finished with 32 total saves on the night.