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3 stars of the game: Caps' stars come up big under the stars in Stadium Series game

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USA TODAY Sports

3 stars of the game: Caps' stars come up big under the stars in Stadium Series game

In a game played under the stars, it was the Capitals’ stars who came to play in Saturday’s Stadium Series as the Capitals dominated the Toronto Maple Leafs in a 5-2 win.

Evgeny Kuznetsov scored less than four minutes in to start off what would be a three-goal period for Washington. Alex Ovechkin also scored career goal No. 598, his 40th of the season, as the Caps jumped out to a 3-1 lead.

Toronto tried to make a game of it as Nazem Kadri pulled the Leafs to within one in the second, but goals from John Carlson and Jakub Vrana iced the game away after just 40 minutes.

A brief power outage delayed the third period somewhat, but could not delay the inevitable Capitals win.

RELATED: After scuffling through February, Capitals finally rise to the occasion on the big stage​

Here are the three stars of the game.

1. Evgeny Kuznetsov: The tone was set early as Kuznetsov opened the scoring less than four minutes into the game as he planted himself in front of the net and collected a Frederik Andersen rebound for the power play tally. His first assist was even prettier as he drove to the net, then left a drop pass that somehow found Nicklas Backstrom in between all four of the Leafs’ penalty killers. In the second period, Kuznetsov collected a turnover forced by Dmitry Orlov in the neutral zone and passed it up to spring Jakub Vrana on the breakaway for a badly needed goal.

2. Nicklas Backstrom: Backstrom had a hand in all three of Washington’s first period goals with a goal and two assists. He was the beneficiary of Kuznetsov’s drop pass which he netted to give Washington a 3-1 lead. Prior to that, Backstrom fired the initial shot that Kuznetsov was able to bang in for the first goal of the game. He and Tom Wilson also got in on a puck battle behind the net, eventually winning it so Wilson could pass to Ovechkin in the slot for the goal.

3. John Carlson: Carlson assisted on both of Washington’s power play tallies in the first period, then added a goal of his own in the second. He joined the rush with Jay Beagle and Chandler Stephenson and fired a slap shot on Frederik Andersen. The Leafs netminder turned the shot aside right to Stephenson. Andersen and the Toronto defense adjusted too far over to account for Stephenson, leaving Carlson open. Stephenson swung the puck back to center for the easy tap-in.

More Caps: Caps have nothing but praise for their Stadium Series hosts​

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Capitals vs. Blues preseason Game 5: Time, TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

Capitals vs. Blues preseason Game 5: Time, TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

The Washington Capitals' preseason continues Tuesday night as they head to St. Louis to take on the Blues.

The Caps first preseason game vs. the Boston Bruins ended in a 1-2 shootout, followed by losses against the Bruins, Canadiens and Hurricanes respectively. 

The Stanley Cup champions will face the Blues once again on Sunday, September 30 at Capital One Arena before preparing to raise their championship banner during the season opener on Wednesday, October 3. 

Ahead of Tuesday's matchup, here's everything you need to know to watch.

CAPITALS-BLUES PRESEASON GAME 5: HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals vs. St. Louis Blues

Where: Enterprise Center, St. Louis, Missouri

When: Tuesday, September, 25, 8:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Capitals-Blues preseason game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Blues preseason on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

Radio: Caps Radio 24/7

CAPITALS-BLUES PRESEASON TV SCHEDULE: 

8:00 PM: NHL Preseason: Capitals @ St. Louis Blues (LIVE)
10:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live (LIVE)

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The Flyers' new mascot, Gritty, is here to haunt your dreams

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The Flyers' new mascot, Gritty, is here to haunt your dreams

On Monday morning, just a week shy of the official start to the 2018-19 NHL season, the Philadelphia Flyers triumphantly announced their new mascot and, full disclosure, it’s terrifying.

Meet Gritty.

The furry orange abomination is a cross between fabled Canadiens' (and Expos) mascot Youppi, The Muppet Show’s Animal, and something that would probably murder you in your sleep.

He’s named Gritty, because, according to the Flyers’ official webpage, is supposed to reflect the strength, tenacity, and raw passion of the team and their fanbase.

His portly figure and bouncy, gyrating hips are not the problem. In fact, watching him move is kind of delightful.

No, the real problem here is his eyes. Those oddly realistic googly eyes,  following his every movement and hip circle ike a car accident you just can’t look away from. His mouth, always agape, is the icing on the nightmare fuel cake..

Hockey fans online went into a tizzy after the reveal. Monday's primary activity was to lay into the Flyers' new mascot with heavy heat.

Despite their divisional rivalry, the Caps’ own loveable eagle Slapshot welcomed Gritty to the family in a very diplomatic manner. 

Other teams in the Metropolitan division, namely the Pittsburgh Penguins however, were not so kind.

According to his official bio, “recent construction at the Wells Fargo Center disturbed [Gritty’s] secret hideout forcing him to show his face publicly for the first time.” We think this is supposed to be charming and mysterious in the same way that everyone describes Bigfoot, but it mostly works at convincing us to head for the hills. 

You can also book him for event appearances. We’d recommend him as a supportive presence at divorce hearings, or as the featured guest at your horrible cousin’s wedding.

It’s worth noting that other Metropolitan teams are not without mascot sins. In 2011, the Columbus Blue Jackets had a NSFW cannon named Boomer, who barely survived half a season before being retired. 

Thankfully, Caps fans only have to handle Slapshot's themed costumes for special events this season.

Philly, we’re happy for you, but you can keep Gritty within city limits.

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