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3 Caps who impressed in the preseason opener vs. Chicago: Take a bow, Aliaksei Protas

3 Caps who impressed in the preseason opener vs. Chicago: Take a bow, Aliaksei Protas

WASHINGTON -- Hockey made its long-awaited return to Capital One Arena on Monday as the Capitals opened their preseason slate with a 4-3 overtime win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Tom Wilson was the best player on either bare-bones roster and he scored the overtime winner.

Besides Wilson, here are the players who impressed on Monday.

Aliaksei Protas

Protas already stands out because of his size at 6-foot-6. It was his play that stood out during the game, however, as Protas was the best player of the night for Washington.

Playing in the high slot on the power play, Protas took a pass from Christian Djoos. Chicago’s penalty kill box collapsed around him and he calmly backhanded a pass to a wide-open Travis Boyd who ripped the shot past goalie Collin Delia.

Less than two minutes later, Protas took the puck from behind the Caps’ net and started the breakout. He passed off the puck then made a beeline down the ice. When he saw Beck Malenstyn grab the puck along the boards, he headed to the front of the net and was there when Delia lost control of the puck to get the goal.

In addition, Protas recorded an assist on the overtime winner and was impressive for his all-around play. He forced Chicago to the neutral zone with a poke check on the blue line out of the defensive zone and he recorded two blocked shots.

Christian Djoos

The Capitals will need to cut salary early in the season to get under the salary cap and to many, Djoos looked like a possible candidate to be headed out of Washington. He did what he could on Monday, however, to show he should stick around.

Djoos does not typically get much power-play time during the regular season -- he had a grand total of 3:15 power-play TOI in 45 games last season -- but he got plenty of it on Monday and he looked right at home. He was good holding the blue line with the extra man and distributed the puck well from the point. He was rewarded with a secondary assist when he fed Protas in the high-slot in the second period.

Djoos, however, needed to show more than his prowess on the power play -- where he likely will not get much time again this season -- and he did that with an overall solid effort on defense. He outplayed his counterpart, Jonas Siegenthaler, whose place on the team seems all but assured. The only of Chicago’s three goals Djoos was on the ice for was Adam Boqvist’s wicked shot off the post and in and there was nothing anyone could do about that one whether it was Djoos, John Carlson or Bobby Orr.

Beck Malenstyn

If Malenstyn has a future in the NHL, it will be as a fourth-liner. He gave a glimpse of what he had to offer at that NHL level in this game with his high-energy play.

Malenstyn was relentless on the forecheck and looked like he was in constant search of something to hit every time he was on the ice. He was also great on the penalty kill and recorded an assist on Protas’ goal when he flung the puck at the net from the sideboards.

Malenstyn is not going to be a top-six NHL player. He’s not going to put up 20-30 goals. What he can provide, he showed on Monday and it was exactly what you want from a fourth-liner.

Honorable mention: Connor McMichael had the play of the game with his no-look backhand pass to set-up Damien Riat for Washington’s first goal of the game. His overall game was solid with one assist, two shots on goal and another two attempts blocked.

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Capitals vs. Rangers Game 9: Time, TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

Capitals vs. Rangers Game 9: Time, TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

The Capitals are back at home again Friday night for the third game in a row, this time to face the New York Rangers.

In their last time on the ice, Capitals won on the back of three goals in 78 seconds, dropping the Toronto Maple Leafs, 4-2. Now they turn their attention to the Rangers, who they've beaten nine of the last 10 times they've played, dating back to the 2016-17 season.

The Rangers have revamped their roster a bit in the offseason and will put it to the test against the Capitals for the first time of the 2019-20 season on Friday night.

Here is everything you need to know about the Friday night game, which takes place at 7:00 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Washington.

CAPITALS vs. RANGERS HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals vs. New York Rangers, Game 7 of the 2018-19 NHL Regular Season

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: The Capitals vs. Rangers game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can live stream Capitals vs. Rangers on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the NBC Sports App.

Radio: Caps 24/7 Radio, 106.7 The Fan FM

CAPITALS vs RANGERS TV SCHEDULE

6:00 PM: Caps FaceOff Live

6:30 PM: Caps Pregame Live

7:00 PM: Capitals vs Rangers

9:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live

10:00 PM: D.C. Sports Live

10:30 PM: Caps Overtime Live

CAPITALS vs RANGERS INJURY REPORT:

Capitals: Michael Kempny, D, is on injured reserve. Jonas Siegenthaler, D, is day-to-day after taking a big hit to his shoulder during Wednesday night's game. Richard Panik, RW, is day-to-day.

Rangers: N/A

CAPITALS vs RANGERS PLAYERS TO WATCH

Alex Ovechkin, F, Capitals (5 goals, 2 ppg, 32 shots): Ovechkin's quest for the all-time goal-scoring record is fully on. The seasoned veteran already has five goals this year, two of which have come on the power play.

John Carlson, D, Capitals (14 points, 3 goals, 11 assists): If Ovechkin is the finisher, Carlson is the set-up man. Carlson leads the team in points and assists with 14 and 11, respectively. The blueliner has three goals of his own, while four of his assists have come on the power play.

Mika Zibanejad, C, Rangers (8 points, 4, goals, 4 assists): Through three games, Zibanejad leads the Rangers in points, goals and assists. It's early in the season, but the veteran center is poised for another strong offensive output in the middle for the Rangers.

CAPITALS vs. RANGERS SERIES HISTORY

Number of all-time Meetings: 266 (51 postseason)

All-Time Series Record: Capitals lead 131-117-18

Regular Season Record: Capitals lead 107-90-18

Playoff Record: Capitals lead 28-27

Last Meeting: Caps win 3-2 in a shootout (3/3/18)

Last 10: Capitals lead 9-1

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Max Scherzer to drop puck at Friday's Caps-Rangers game

Max Scherzer to drop puck at Friday's Caps-Rangers game

Just when you think the D.C. connection between the Nationals and Capitals couldn't get any stronger, it does.

While the Nationals await the winner of the Astros and Yankees as to who they will play in the World Series, the city's first in 86 years, pitcher Max Scherzer will participate in the ceremonial puck drop prior to the Capitals and Rangers clash. 

During the Capitals 2018 Stanley Cup run, the Nationals were their biggest supporters. Scherzer and Ryan Zimmerman attended one of their Cup games against the Knights dressed up in Caps gear. They were awarded the fans of the game.

Now, the Capitals are returning the favor.

Earlier this postseason, the Capitals were heading to Nashville when the Nationals were set to play the Dodgers in Game 5 of the NLDS. Each Caps player walked off the plane sporting a cursive 'Nationals' across their chest.

There's plenty of love between these two teams. The Nationals just hope their postseason ends the same way the Capitals' did a season ago.

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