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Capitals fall to Columbus in OT as Holtby goes down with injury

Capitals fall to Columbus in OT as Holtby goes down with injury

The Capitals suffered a 2-1 overtime loss at the hands of the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday and also lost Braden Holtby to an apparent eye injury midway through the second period. Columbus now pulls within four points of Washington in the standings for first place of the Metropolitan Division. Here are four reasons Washington fell on Saturday. 

The first minute

Offense was hard to come by for much of the night, but not in the first minute. Cam Atkinson put the Blue Jackets ahead 1-0 with a breakaway goal exactly one minute into the contest.

The Caps were not caught out of position, just a bit flat-footed. When the Blue Jackets grabbed the puck in the defensive zone, Atkinson turned on the jets and made his way up the ice. Markus Nutivaara found him with the stretch pass.

Both Michal Kempny and John Carlson were back, but Atkinson was at full speed and able to split between both of them to spring his own breakaway and score.

Two injury scares

Alex Ovechkin left for the locker room late in the first period. It is unclear what exactly the issue was, but Ovechkin was limited to only 3:17 in the opening 20 minutes of the game.

Ovechkin did return for the start of the second, but it still cost Washington as he was not on the ice for a late first period penalty, denying Washington of its biggest power play weapon.

Braden Holtby left the game midway through the second period after receiving a high-stick from Atkinson, whose stick blade somehow managed to get through the bars of Holtby's mask. The mask popped off, and he immediately skated away dabbing at his eye.

After getting some attention from head athletic trainer Jason Serbus on the bench, Holtby left for the locker room, and Pheonix Copley came into the game.

Copley played very well in relief with 10 saves on 11 shots and even made a big save one-on-one against Lukas Sedlak, but when a team loses a player as significant as Holtby, it often has some sort of an impact, even if it is not seen on the scoresheet.

Late offense

You like flow? Well, this game had pretty much none. The game was stop and go with frequent whistles and not a lot of momentum for either team.

The Caps technically racked up 11 shots on goal in the first period, but none were high-quality chances and all appeared to be easily turned aside by Columbus netminder Joonas Korpisalo. The offense really didn't begin clicking until late in the second period when Washington got the last seven shots on goal.

Evgeny Kuznetsov did manage to force overtime with a late goal, but this seemed like a game the Caps could have won had the offense been clicking from the start.

An overtime slash

After forcing ovetime, it certainly appeared the Caps had the momentum and were getting the best of the opportunities, but Nicklas Backstrom was called for a slash on Boone Jenner that flipped the momentum and gave Columbus the late power play. Artemi Panarin needed only 12 seconds to score the game-winner after that.

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Capitals welcomed on White House visit to celebrate Stanley Cup

Capitals welcomed on White House visit to celebrate Stanley Cup

WASHINGTON – The Capitals made their long-awaited visit to the White House on Monday to celebrate their 2018 Stanley Cup. 

Players, coaches and team owners and executives surrounded President Trump and the Stanley Cup, which stood on the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office. The event came just 16 days before Washington begins its defense of the Cup when the Stanley Cup playoffs begin on April 10. 

“We welcome most importantly the entire Capitals team,” President Trump said. “They're winners. They know how to win and I think you're going to see that starting in a little while.”

The Capitals arrived at The White House at about 2 p.m. for a 45-minute tour of the West Wing. After that, they waited in the Roosevelt Room until summoned to the Oval Office to meet Trump, who lauded their 2017-18 season, noted their win over the rival Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round and asked “How are they doing?”

Trump asked captain Alex Ovechkin, defenseman John Carlson and owner Ted Leonsis to say a few words. He ribbed NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. And, no, the team was not fed fast food as some of the college championship teams have been in recent months, especially during the 35-day government shut down in December and January. 

All Capitals players still on the team and eligible to attend were there save for goalie Braden Holtby and forward Brett Connolly. Devante Smith-Pelly, who scored the game-tying goal in the decisive Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, is in the minors with AHL Hershey and previously said he would not attend.  

A clean-cut Ovechkin was compared to Babe Ruth by Trump for his combined 64 goals last year between the regular season and Stanley Cup playoffs. Trump also said daughter Ivanka is a big fan of the Washington captain. Ivanka Trump was in attendance. President Trump compared Carlson to Hockey Hall-of-Famer Bobby Orr, but Carlson, who was born in Massachusetts, knew better than to let that comparison to the Boston sports legend go. 

“He’s a LOT better than me,” Carlson said. 

“My speech is gonna be much easier than it was in the [championship] parade,” Ovechkin said, referencing his profane, entertaining ode to the fans last June 12. “But thank you very much for having us. It's huge honor for us to be here and meet you personally. We're gonna try to do it again. We have same team, experienced team, very good group of guys and we're gonna try to do it again.”

After select media members were let into the Oval Office for a photo opportunity, Capitals players and staff took individual photos with the President and were able to have brief conversations with him. Players were given souvenir pens and candy. 

"You brought the Stanley Cup home. Thousands of adoring fans greeted you. They were all over the place,” Trump said. “And I have a feeling you're going to be doing it again. You're champions. You have a champion's heart…and I just want to wish you a lot of luck. In Washington that's all that they want to talk about. They don't want to talk about anything else. I can't get the subject on to anything else, so you've got to win quickly because we've got to get back to work.” 

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Michal Kempny takes White House tour on crutches, Todd Reirden declares his injury 'long-term'

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Michal Kempny takes White House tour on crutches, Todd Reirden declares his injury 'long-term'

The Capitals visited the White House on Monday in the traditional trip afforded to the Stanley Cup champions. Among the players in attendance was injured defenseman Michal Kempny. A picture from the Oval Office showed Kempny in the background with crutches.

This is the first we have publicly seen Kempny since he was injured in Wednesday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Kempny was engaged with Lightning forward Cedric Paquette after the whistle. Kempny fell awkwardly on his left leg as Paquette forced him to the ice and had to be helped off the ice and down the tunnel. He did not appear to be putting any weight on his left leg at all on his way to the locker room.

There is still no definitive timetable for how long Kempny may be out, though Reirden said Monday after practice that, “It's going to be a long-term injury.”

The delay in getting a timetable is over treatment options. It is still being decided how best to treat Kempny’s injury and until that decision is made, there is no timetable to give. Reirden indicated surgery was a possibility.

“That's what we're going through right now: Different options and what the right thing to do is,” he said.

Both Reirden’s update and the fact that Kempny remains on crutches several days after the injury is a pretty good indication that this is not going to be a short-term issue. It appears the Caps should prepare for not having Kempny for at least the start of the playoffs, if not longer.

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