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4 reasons why the Caps beat the Coyotes

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USA Today Sports

4 reasons why the Caps beat the Coyotes

A late third period goal by Andre Burakovsky gave the Capitals their first lead of the game and stood as the game-winner in a 4-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. The win snapped a two-game losing streak for the Caps and gave them their first regulation win in Arizona since January 16, 2006.

Here are four reasons why they won:

A missed penalty shot

Already down 1-0, Washington nearly saw themselves go down 2-0 thanks to a bizarre sequence that resulted in a penalty shot for the Coyotes.

John Carlson’s stick was swept out of his hand by Derek Stepan and hit off the boards into the defensive zone. With Richard Panik skating in, Brett Connolly tried to hit the loose stick out of the way, but he hit it right to Panik resulting in a penalty. According to rule 53.6 of the NHL Rulebook, “When any member of the defending team, including the Coach or any non-playing person, throws or shoots any part of a stick or any other object or piece of equipment at the puck or puck carrier in his defending zone, the Referee or Linesman shall allo the play to be completed and if a goal is not scored, a penalty shot shall be awarded to the non-offending team.”

As a result, Arizona was awarded a penalty shot with a chance to take a 2-0 lead. Panik, however, shot the puck wide of the net and the Caps dodged a major bullet.

Jakub Vrana strikes again

Vrana got the Caps on the board in the second period with this third goal in two games. A puck battle behind the net bounced out to the slot where Vrana quickly wristed it to the net to tie the game at 1.

A goal for the birthday boy

Matt Niskanen enjoyed his 32nd birthday on Thursday. How did he celebrate? By scoring his fourth goal of the season.

Niskanen fired a shot from the top of the circle that looked relatively harmless except for some great physical play by Dmitrij Jaskin who muscled Jakob Chychrun into the crease and right into the path of the puck. The puck hit off Chychrun and into the net for the goal and the birthday present.

Redemption for Andre Burakovsky

Arizona scored on its first shot of the game thanks to a Burakovsky turnover.

Burakovsky was trailing the play in the defensive zone and took a pass from Jonas Siegenthaler. Feeling the pressure, Burakovsky elected not to hit the puck off the boards and instead tried a backhand pass in the middle of the defensive zone. ­The bad pass was taken by Derek Stepan who set up Christian Fischer for the goal.

Burakovsky got redemption in the third period, however, as he scored the game-winning goal. He streaked into the offensive zone with the puck and fired the shot from the top of the circle that beat Adin Hill to put Washington up 3-2. It was a lead the team would not relinquish.

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Caps bolster fourth line in trade with Kings for Carl Hagelin

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Caps bolster fourth line in trade with Kings for Carl Hagelin

Placing Devante Smith-Pelly on waivers Wednesday seemed to indicate that a trade was on the horizon for the Capitals and on Thursday, that trade was made official. Washington acquired forward Carl Hagelin from the Los Angeles Kings in a trade for a third-round draft pick in 2019 and a conditional 2020 draft pick.

The trade was announced by the Caps about 30 minutes after Smith-Pelly cleared waivers, freeing up a roster spot and cap room to fit Hagelin. Terms of the conditional pick were not immediately disclosed but Pierre LeBrun reports on Twitter that regarding the pick, "Caps must win two rounds and Hagelin plays in 50 percent or more of any two rounds combined. So could be rd 1 and 2. Or 2 and 3. Or 1 and 3, etc. If those things don’t happen, there’s no 6th RD pick going to LA."

Hagelin, 30, adds speed and experience to the Caps’ lineup. His speed is easily his best asset and a valuable commodity in today’s NHL. He has won the Stanley Cup twice with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016 and 2017. He also should be able to contribute on the penalty kill.

Hagelin was traded from Pittsburgh to the Kings in November and is in the final year of his contract. The Washington Post's Isabelle Khurshudyan also reports that the Kings have retained 50-percent of Hagelin's salary in the deal.

This season has been a bit of a struggle for him with only eight points in 38 games with the Kings and Penguins. His production typically falls around 30 points and his low production is what likely drove down Los Angeles’ asking price. He is on the final year of his contract and carries a total cap hit for $4 million, but Pittsburgh retained $250,000 of that in the original trade.

The fourth line has been a major question mark for the Caps this season. No combination has seemingly managed to gain much traction with head coach Todd Reirden and this move looks like it directly addresses that.

Given the recent success of Washington’s third line, Hagelin will likely find himself primarily playing on the fourth line for the Caps. Reirden will have to make it work with Hagelin, Chandler Stephenson, Nic Dowd, Travis Boyd and perhaps Smith-Pelly after he cleared waivers on Thursday.

 

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Paisano's curse? Devante Smith-Pelly becomes second pizza spokesman this month to leave DC

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Paisano's curse? Devante Smith-Pelly becomes second pizza spokesman this month to leave DC

Markieff Morris was about the break into the local pizza commercial market when he was traded earlier this month - robbing the local pizzeria chain Paisano's the chance to use his likeness to advertise their pies.

And when he was waived by the Capitals on Wednesday, Devante Smith-Pelly had been a face of Paisano's in one of their local TV commercials for just over a month. 

The commercials, for anyone who watches TV - including NBC Sports Washington - in the DC-Maryland-Virginia market are a familiar sight. Local active and retired athletes including Ryan Kerrigan, Santana Moss (an NBC Sports Washington contributor), Josh Doctson and more appear in the ads. They usually show off a few moves, ordering pizza and reciting a catchy tagline.  

While there's a long list of local athletes who have appeared in the ads and stayed in DC for years, the company has taken a bit of a hit at trade deadlines for both leagues this month with the loss of two players in three weeks. Morris was the only Wizards player on their roster and Smith-Pelly was one of two Capitals players in the ads.

"Obviously we're going to have to pull the spot [with Smith-Pelly], which kind of stinks," said ESB Advertising owner Eiman Bassam, who does the commercials for Paisano's . "And then we're going to have to come up with a back-up plan. So right now, we're talking about we shot some commercials with [Washington Capitals TV Color Analyst and retired NHL player] Craig Laughlin. It's always a safe bet to go with someone who's not going to get traded."

The players, according to Bassam, are connected with the company often after seeing their teammates in the commercials and wanting their own slice of the pie. While the restaurant has a long list of regulars on their commercials, losing two of their new roster additions in less than two months hurts a bit - though depending on the Caps' moves, Smith-Pelly could be back sometime this season. 

"It's part of the business," said Paisano's owner Fouad Qreitem. "We understand, we all understand that this is professional sports ... This is fairly, I don't want to call it 'common'. This one delivered a bigger sting because we were about to run a package of hockey and basketball spots and obviously we shot them and took time do the commercials.

"We might restructure the way we do our contracts from now on," he added, with a slight chuckle.

With the Caps trade deadline nearing, Bassam is keeping a close eye on Andre Burakovsky, who is Smith-Pelly's co-star in the video. 

"We're keeping our fingers crossed for Andre," he said. 

As for a Paisano's pizza trade curse? Bassam and Qreitem wouldn't go that far.

"It's just part of the business. We all know with sports people get traded in waves," Bassam said. "I don't think it has anything to do with a Paisano's curse."

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