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3 reasons why the Caps beat the Rangers


3 reasons why the Caps beat the Rangers

The Washington Capitals and New York Rangers found themselves locked in a 2-2 tie in the third period, but it was the Capitals who were able to breakthrough for two goals late for the victory.

Here's how Washington was able to get the win.

An early lead

The Capitals drew first blood early, as in 14 seconds early. That’s how long it took for Jay Beagle to give Washington the lead. On what looked like a broken zone entry for the Caps, Devante Smith-Pelly chipped a loose puck over to Jay Beagle in the high slot and he was able to fire a wrister past Henrik Lundqvist. In a game in which New York looked to be in command at several points, the Rangers ultimately never led. They were always chasing the Caps.


Braden Holtby (especially in the second period)

The Caps leaned on Holtby in this game, especially in the second period. Washington entered the second with a 1-0 lead and even extended that lead to 2-0, but it was New York who looked to be in control. Yet, Holtby was at the top of his game and he did everything he could to maintain the Caps' lead. He turned aside 12 of the 13 shots he faced in the second including this one-timer from the slot from Mats Zuccarello.

This game could have been very different given New Yorks' push in the middle frame. Holtby made sure it wasn't.


Top-line Tom

With the score tied at 2 in the third period, it wasn't Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom who saved the Caps, but Tom Wilson who continues to look right at home playing on the team's top offensive line. With less than four minutes to go, Wilson generated a turnover in the neutral zone and took the puck hard to the net. He didn't score, but the scrambling Rangers' defense could not clear the puck allowing the Caps to maintain possession. A long-range shot from Ovechkin was stopped by Henrik Lundqvist, but Wilson made a great diving tip to Matt Niskanen who tapped in what would be the game-winning goal. Just two minutes later, Wilson would put the exclamation point on the win with a goal of his own. He took a pass in the neutral zone and turned on the jets to get behind the defense and then neatly tucked the puck in the net behind a sprawling Lundqvist.

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Key Caps questions: Who will play on the team's third defensive pair?


Key Caps questions: Who will play on the team's third defensive pair?

The dog days of summer are officially here, but it's never too hot to talk some hockey.

Capitals correspondent JJ Regan is here to help you through the offseason doldrums as he discusses key questions facing the Caps for the upcoming season as Washington prepares to defend its title for the first time in franchise history.

Today's question: What will be the team's primary third defensive pairing?

Barring any PTOs or breakout performances in training camp, we can reasonably assume Brooks Orpik, Christian Djoos and Madison Bowey are going to be the three players battling it out to be on the third pair.

General manager Brian MacLellan went through some salary cap gymnastics to get Orpik back for next season at a much smaller cap hit, Djoos played 22 playoff games in the Caps’ Stanley Cup run and Bowey was signed to a one-way, two-year contract for $1 million per year. Clearly, all three are expected to be on the Caps’ roster next season and play a role, but that role will be limited considering the top-four is pretty much set with Michal Kempny-John Carlson and Dmitry Orlov-Matt Niskanen.

Orpik will be 38 years old at the start of the season. His on and off-ice contributions are much greater than many were willing to acknowledge, but he was never a fast player and at his age, holding him to 60 games or fewer will make him a more effective player.

Djoos and Bowey are 24 and 23 respectively and, while both are ready for bigger roles, both are far from finished products. While they may be part of the future of Washington’s blue line, putting in two young, second-year players as their own pair is a risk.

But even if head coach Todd Reirden is not ready to turn the reins over to his two young defensemen just yet, he still needs to get both players plenty of playing time.

This is why Orpik may get a lot more playing time than many people think. The best thing for both Djoos and Bowey is for them to play. If you have concerns about them playing together, however, and neither is ready to supplant anyone in the top four, then you are going to see them cycle in and out of the lineup fairly frequently to play alongside Orpik.

That’s not to say we will never see a Djoos-Bowey pairing this season. They will probably have their chances and the better they look, the longer that pair will last. If they were ready, it would be a safe assumption that they would get the bulk of games together with Orpik serving more of a reserve role.

But a Djoos-Bowey pairing would be too vulnerable to opposing offenses at least at the start of the season and so we should expect a lot of Orpik.

While Reirden will work his defensive magic to bring Djoos-Bowey along as quickly as possible, I would anticipate Orpik-Djoos will see a majority of games this season as the team’s third defensive pairing.

Other key Caps questions:

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D.C. artist turns her love for the Washington Capitals into works of art

@tkopaintings on Twitter

D.C. artist turns her love for the Washington Capitals into works of art

Local artist Taylor Kampa has taken her love for the Washington Capitals and turned it into works of art. 

You can find paintings done by Kampa of Alex Ovechkin, Tom Wilson, Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie, John Carlson and Braden Holtby on display at Circa Chinatown – a restaurant neighboring Capital One Arena – along with other D.C. celebrities.

A professional artist for the last decade, Kampa told that the pictures were "passion projects," and took about eight hours to finish. She became a fan of the Caps after she began dating her now-husband back in 2009.

Her work has even caught the eye of The Great Eight. After posting a video to Instagram of her painting Ovechkin hoisting the Stanley Cup, the Conn Smythe Trophy winner liked and commented on it. 

"I almost died," Kampa said.

"It has been amazing sharing something that I am excited about that resonates with the people in my city," Kampa said. "I've been painting these portraits for a long time, so it's awesome to have them seen by so many people."

Kampa will also create paintings for the Capitals foundation's annual Casino Night fundraiser next year.