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3 stars of the game: Ovechkin, Caps start strong, survive late Lightning push to take Game 1

3 stars of the game: Ovechkin, Caps start strong, survive late Lightning push to take Game 1

If you thought the Capitals would not be ready mentally for the Eastern Conference Final after an emotional win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, you were wrong.

Washington absolutely blew apart Tampa Bay early and cruised to a 4-2 win to take a 1-0 lead in the series.

Michal Kempny scored his first career playoff goal to put the Caps up 1-0 then a bizarre sequence at the end of the first period ended with a Nikita Kucherov goal being disallowed followed by a quick goal from Alex Ovechkin with just six seconds left.

Washington added two goals in the second period to extend their lead to 4-0 and it was a hole Tampa just could not climb out of.

Here are the three stars of the game.

3 Stars of Capitals vs. Lightning Game 1

1. Alex Ovechkin: Ovechkin's one-timer with six seconds left in the first period to give the Caps a 2-0 lead was a dagger to the heart of the Lightning and the real turning point of the game.

Ovechkin also set up the screen that led to the first goal of the game by Michal Kempny and recorded an assist on Lars Eller’s power-play tally.

Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov were expected to be the big playmakers in this series, but it was Ovechkin who set the tone in this game with his brilliant performance.

2. Michal Kempny: Last season, Brian MacLellan went for the home run trade deadline acquisition with Kevin Shattenkirk. This time, the Caps general manager acquired a little-known defenseman from the Chicago Blackhawks named Michal Kempny and he has completely transformed the Capitals' defense.

Kempny was very strong in the defensive end and recorded two blocked shots. While no one can question the depth of Tampa's offense, Kempny's performance showed the Caps' defense is perhaps more formidable than many realized.

Where Kempny really dominated, however, was in the offensive zone. He fired four shots on goal, the second most on the team, and opened the scoring with a snapshot from the point for his first career playoff goal.

3. T.J. Oshie: Oshie recorded two assists in the game the first of which was a bit unexpected.

A too many men penalty to Tampa gave the Caps an offensive zone draw with just eight seconds remaining in the first period. The only real way Washington would have a chance to score was to win the draw. With the faceoff on the right, Oshie took the draw instead of center Evgeny Kuznetsov. It soon became clear why as Oshie immediately won the draw right, fed it to Kuznetsov who passed it quickly to Ovechkin for the one-timer.

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Alex Ovechkin and wife Nastya Ovechkina welcome baby boy

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NBC Sports Washington/USATSI

Alex Ovechkin and wife Nastya Ovechkina welcome baby boy

After lifting the Stanley Cup just over two months ago, something else very exciting has happened in Alex Ovechkin's life.

Saturday morning, Nastya and Alex Ovechkin welcomed their first child, a baby boy named Sergei, after Ovechkin's late brother. 

Ovi spent this week practicing at the Florida Panthers' facilities with other NHL players living in the surrounding area.

After the Cup's visit to Moscow, Nastya and Alex settled down at their apartment in Miami, staying put and preparing for the birth. 

The couple were married two years ago but didn't hold an official ceremony until July of last year. The celebration was as lavish as you'd expect.

She revealed her pregnancy shortly after the Cup victory, and has kept us up to date on life this summer via Instagram. A few weeks ago, the Ovechkins graced HELLO! Russia magazine, showing off Nastya's baby bump among their glamour shots.

💛 @aleksandrovechkinofficial #hello #hellorussia @hello__ru

A post shared by Nastasiya Ovechkina (@nastyashubskaya) on

Congratulations to Ovi and Nastya, and all our best wishes for health and happiness!

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Capitals draft pick admits he is...a Flyers fan

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USA TODAY Sports

Capitals draft pick admits he is...a Flyers fan

Say it ain't so.

Mitchell Gibson is the first goalie the Capitals have drafted since Ilya Samsonov in 2015, but they may be thinking twice about their selection after a recent shocking interview.

Gibson spoke with a local Philadelphia CBS station and revealed that both he and his family...are Flyers fans.

Insert dramatic music.

"I think my family will always be Flyers fans in their hearts and I guess I will be a little bit," Gibson admitted, hopefully with guilt in his voice.

Gibson was selected by the Caps in the fourth round of the 2018 draft, but clearly the scouts did not do their homework. It's as if Gibson grew up a hockey fan in a place like Phoenixville, Pa. (about an hour outside of Philadelphia) without anticipating the future that he may one day be drafted by a rival team like Washington.

Shame, shame.

The young netminder tried to make up for his horrifying admission later in the interview.

"The Capitals are definitely treating me well right now so I would like to be their goalie," he said.

A likely story.

Gibson is only 19 and set to begin his first collegiate season at Harvard in 2018 so at least there is still time for Gibson to overcome his shameful past. And hey, it could always be worse. At least he's not a Penguins fan.

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