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Alex Ovechkin declares he has zero desire to play for any team other than the Capitals

Alex Ovechkin declares he has zero desire to play for any team other than the Capitals

ARLINGTON, Va. -- While the immediate focus of the Capitals in terms of contracts may be Nicklas Backstrom and Braden Holtby, the future of Alex Ovechkin also looms large for the franchise with his contract set to expire in 2021.

Ovechkin has made a number of cryptic comments throughout the summer about what he may or may not do once his contract runs out even hinting in August that he could retire. On Thursday, however, there were no secret messages and no need to read between the lines.

Ovechkin wants to stay in Washington, period.

“Of course I would love to stay in Washington, but I would say before, we’ll see what’s going to happen,” Ovechkin said. “I said I don’t want to play for a different team than Washington.”

A cynical take of this would be to say Ovechkin may just be referring to NHL teams and not the KHL. Many have wondered if he would one day choose to leave the NHL to return to his native Russia and play out the rest of his career there. As long as he continues to be one of the top players in the world, however, it seems highly unlikely that the ultra-competitive Ovechkin would leave the best league in the world to go back to the KHL.

If Thursday’s media day was any indication, it certainly sounds as if Ovechkin was leaning towards signing another contract to stay in Washington.

“I can’t talk about signing a new deal right now,” he said. “I have to wait one more year.”

As his deal does not expire until 2021, Ovechkin is not eligible to sign an extension with the Caps until July 2020. This certainly makes it sound as if the question is not if he will re-sign, but when.

Given how proud Ovechkin is of his heritage, an eventual return to the KHL cannot be ruled out completely. But he could go back to Russia and be a top player there even after his play in the NHL begins to decline. Ovechkin also sits just 236 goals behind Wayne Gretzky’s record of 894 and, while he has largely avoided talking about Gretzky’s record, he did seem to open up to the possibility during the NHL’s media day in early September.

The bottom line is that Caps fans need not worry about whether they will have only two more years of Ovechkin. It sounds as if he’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

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Holtby's night ends after only three shots as Avalanche hand Caps a loss

Holtby's night ends after only three shots as Avalanche hand Caps a loss

WASHINGTON -- The Colorado Avalanche scored on its first three shots of the game and Capitals could never recover in a 6-3 loss Monday. Braden Holtby surrendered the first three goals before being relieved by Ilya Samsonov. The Caps mounted a comeback to make it 4-2, but a back-breaking goal in the third period was the final nail in the coffin of an ugly loss.

Here are five reasons the Caps lost.

A Burakovsky screen

In his first game back in Washington with his new team, it did not take long for Andre Burakovsky to make an impact. Erik Johnson put Colorado up less than four minutes into the game as Holtby lost the puck behind the screen of Burakovsky. Burakovsky earned a secondary assist on the play.

A bad play by Carlson

With the Caps in the offensive zone, Jakub Vrana passed the puck back to the blue line to the normally sure-handed John Carlson. Carlson lost control of the puck and it was picked up by Nathan MacKinnon. MacKinnon skated from the left to the right side of the ice where Jonas Siegenthaler was waiting to defend. The problem is that as MacKinnon cut to the right, Carlson followed.

MacKinnon dropped the pass back to Mikko Rantanen and Carlson tried to pounce on it, but Rantanen got there first and passed it to the left to a wide-open Nikita Zadorov. That is where Carlson should have been.

Whether Carlson was anticipating the drop pass or was just frustrated and was caught chasing the puck, it was a mistake that led to Colorado’s second goal.

Lewington caught flat-footed

The Avalanche started the breakout as defenseman Cale Makar passed the puck up to Joonas Donskoi playing on the right side. As he skated through the neutral zone, he had only two options: he could try a cross-ice pass to Nazem Kadri or he could skate it in himself. The Caps appeared to be in good position to defend the break-in until Donskoi passed to Kadri and he easily skated past a flat-footed Tyler Lewington and in on net for the goal.

Lewington was playing on the right with Nick Jensen on the left. Had Donskoi taken it himself, Nick Jensen was there to defend. Lewington was in good position as he was slightly ahead and inside of Kadri, but he did not anticipate the pass or Kadri’s speed. Lewington was in a position that he should have been able to continue skating back and keeping himself between Kadri and the net. Since he didn’t anticipate the pass, Kadri turned on the jets and Lewington had to turn, already beaten. Kadri easily skated past him and in on net for Colorado’s third goal.

3 goals on 3 shots

Colorado is really good and the Caps did not play well as a team. Both of those things can be true as can the fact that Braden Holtby just did not have it on Monday. His stat line was a rough one: three shots on goal, zero saves, .000 save percentage. His game was over after Kadri’s goal just 7:54 into the game.

A misplay behind the net

Rantanen would add a power play goal late in the first and it looked like the rout was on. Washington battled back in the second period as Lars Eller and T.J. Oshie made it 4-2 heading into the third. The Caps were playing physical, had scored two straight and the momentum was beginning to tilt in their favor. That ended, however, five minutes into the third.

Samsonov played well in relief of Holtby, but a gaffe in the third period ended any hopes of a comeback.

Samsonov went behind the net to retrieve a puck on a Colorado dump-in. Tyson Jost came to pressure him and Samsonov tried to fire the puck along the boards past him. Jost got his stick in front of the puck and then had a helpless Samsonov stuck behind the net. Jost through the puck in front of the net and a diving Matt Nieto hit it into the open net.

That goal proved to be the back-breaker. Alex Ovechkin would score a late goal to make it 5-3, but it was too little, too late. MacKinnon would add the empty-netter in the last minute of the game.

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4 things to know for the Capitals’ matchup against undefeated Colorado

4 things to know for the Capitals’ matchup against undefeated Colorado

The Capitals (3-1-2) snapped a three-game losing streak on Saturday and will look to stay in the win column on Monday in a game against the Colorado Avalanche (4-0-0). You can catch all the action on NBC Sports Washington with Caps FaceOff Live kicking things off at 4 p.m. before Caps Pregame Live begins at 4:30 p.m. to bring you up to the 5 p.m. puck drop. Stick with NBC Sports Washington afterward for Caps Postgame Live, D.C. Sports Live and Caps Overtime Live.

Here are four things to know for Saturday’s game.

Colorado is undefeated

The Avalanche is one of two teams left in the NHL that has not suffered a loss of any kind. Of their four wins, only one of them was not in regulation and that also happened to be the only game Philipp Grubauer did not play in net.

All four wins also happen to be at home as Monday’s game will be Colorado’s first on the road this season.

Washington will face former Caps Andre Burakovsky and Philipp Grubauer

Things seem to be going well in Burakovsky’s first season with the Avalanche. The winger has two goals and two assists in four games and has scored the game-winner in each of the past two games.

Burakovsky was a restricted free agent in the offseason and his contract carried a large qualifying offer which the Caps could not afford. The team traded his rights to  Colorado for a second and a third-round draft pick as well as a prospect on an expiring contract.

In net, Grubauer enters his second season with Colorado and first as the undisputed starter of the team. He earned the job after last year’s playoff performance in which he won seven games, posted a .925 save percentage and brought the Avalanche to within one win of advancing to the conference final.

In three games this season, Grubauer is 3-0-0 with a .931 save percentage.

The best line in hockey?

Colorado boasts one of the top lines, if not the outright best line in hockey with Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen. All three players have had their fair share of success against Washington in their careers.

Landeskog has scored 14 points in just 13 games against the Caps, MacKinnon has 13 points in 11 games and Rantanen has seven points in five games.

The Caps have historically been a difficult matchup for Colorado

Washington’s last three games were against the Dallas Stars (twice) and the Nashville Predators, two teams the Caps have not fared well against historically. The roles are reversed for Monday’s game as this time it's the Caps who have been the thorn in the side of their opponent.

Colorado has lost nine of its last 10 meetings with Washington with its last win coming back on Nov. 16, 2017. The last win before was four years prior in November 2013.

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