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Garnet Hathaway becomes latest Capital to win the Nats batting helmet

Garnet Hathaway becomes latest Capital to win the Nats batting helmet

With the Washinigton Nationals in attendance, Garnet Hathaway battled his way against the New York Rangers to win the Capitals "hard hat" award.

Hathaway sealed the Capitals' 5-2 win over the Rangers with an empty net goal late in the third period. Earlier in the game, Hathaway broke his nose, an injury that proved incapable of stopping him from donning the Nationals batting helmet.

The Capitals honor their game-MVP with the hard hat award, an object that gets passed down after every victory. This year the Caps are supporting their baseball peers by awarding a game-used Nationals batting helmet.

Hathaway was also involved in a fight to stand up for teammate Dmitry Orlov after a late hit. Hathaway's toughness certainly earned him the award, but the Capitals were not without several options for the honor.

T.J. Oshie scored two power play goals for the second time in his career, and Michal Kempny scored a goal in his season debut. Kempny had missed the beginning of the season after suffering a torn left hamstring in April.

The Capitals capped off a three-game homestand with back-to-back wins. The Captials are now 10-0-1 against the Rangers in  their last 11 games after the Caps' 5-2 win.

The Capitals' next game will be in Chicago against the Blackhawks, the first stop of a five-game road trip.

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Why playing in an empty arena won't be a problem for Braden Holtby

Why playing in an empty arena won't be a problem for Braden Holtby

There are a lot of unknowns heading into the 2020 postseason, but one of the biggest unknowns has been how the goalies will play. A pause of several months in which no one could get on the ice was hardest on the goalies who could essentially do nothing to simulate their play on the ice or keep their bodies ready for game action when they returned. According to Braden Holtby, however, it’s so far, so good.

Holtby turned aside 12 out of 13 shots in Wednesday’s exhibition game against the Carolina Hurricanes. He looked more poised and confident than when the season was paused.

For him, the long layoff wasn’t an issue. He had plenty of time to prepare during optional workouts.

“I think it's been long enough that [goalies have] been able to be on the ice,” Holtby said. “I mean, it's coming up on two months. That's plenty of time. Obviously it was a little different getting back into just the game routine from practice. That's always one of the challenges when you have a long layoff. But I felt pretty comfortable out there.”

The only adjustment for goalies, however, is not just about getting onto the ice, it’s also about adjusting to a new setting.

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For the first time in the NHL, these players will be playing in front of no fans. That will affect some players more than others and...well...let’s just say the lack of fans will not be an issue for Holtby.

“Actually, I didn't feel different at all,” Holtby said referring to playing in front of an empty arena. “Felt pretty normal. A few of the guys were saying on the bench it's kind of a hard time which obviously as a goalie you don't have to deal with. I was quite surprised, it seemed like a normal game.”

In addition to the crowd noise -- added to the broadcast but not heard by the players in the arenas -- the seats in the arena were covered with banners to give a more decorative background as opposed to empty seats.

While this was done to make the arena more aesthetically pleasing to the fans watching at home, Holtby described an unintended benefit to the covered seats.

“The sightlines are nice,” Holtby said. “At least they backdropped it, they put up this grey. That helps a lot. A lot of the buildings you go into with the black seats so if it's the start of the period or something and no one's sitting down yet, you lose a lot of pucks in those seats. You don't have to deal with that here which is nice.”

Holtby struggled in the regular season, but the Caps’ championship hopes lie very much on his shoulders considering Ilya Samsonov is out with an injury suffered prior to training camp. Any advantage he can get for the playoffs will be welcome for the team. It's a good sign that he seems very cool and relaxed about the NHL's new setting.

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WATCH: Alex Ovechkin's son Sergei has mastered his backhand shot

WATCH: Alex Ovechkin's son Sergei has mastered his backhand shot

Like father, like son.

Capitals star Alex Ovechkin is currently separated from his family while Washington finishes its season in the Toronto bubble. However, Ovi's absence hasn't stopped his son, Sergei, from working on his own game.

On Sunday, Ovechkin's wife Nastya shared a video to her Instagram page of Sergei ripping several backhand shots into a mini net, and it was quite impressive.

The Capitals reposted the video to their own social media account, tweeting out "Is this kid serious????"

What's even more incredible about the video is that Sergei is already demonstrating great puck skills before at such a young age, as Ovi Jr. doesn't turn two until later this month. I mean, just look at that hand-eye control!

If Sergei continues on this pace, his dad better watch out!

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