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How the Caps finally beat the Penguins and finally advanced past the second round

How the Caps finally beat the Penguins and finally advanced past the second round

Well, they finally did it.

For the first time since 1994, the Capitals have beaten the Pittsburgh Penguins in the playoffs and for the first time since 1998, they have advanced to the conference final.

If you thought this was going to be the same old story and the same old Caps again after Game 1, it's hard to blame you. Washington dominated for 55 minutes in that game, but the Penguins scored three goals in a 4:49 stretch to win 3-2. It felt like the quintessential Capitals-Penguins game.

But this year's team proved different.

Here's how the Capitals rallied to beat Pittsburgh for only the second time in franchise history and advance to the conference finals.

The Capitals overcame every obstacle and every challenge as they finally defeated their archrivals, ending Pittsburgh's attempt to win the Stanley Cup for the third consecutive year.

It wasn't supposed to happen.

Here's how the Capitals rallied to beat Pittsburgh for only the second time in franchise history and advance to the conference finals.

Given all the players Washington lost in the summer, they came into the season with a roster not nearly as strong as the ones that won the Presidents' Trophy in 2016 and 2017. But while the 2018 Caps were not as good on paper, they have shown themselves to be the best overall team by advancing further than any team in the Alex Ovechkin era has ever gone.

Here's how the Capitals rallied to beat Pittsburgh for only the second time in franchise history and advance to the conference finals.

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John Carlson's six-point week nets him the NHL's first star

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John Carlson's six-point week nets him the NHL's first star

After a sterling week with three goals and three assists in three games, John Carlson was named the NHL's first star for the week of December 2-8.

This isn't the first time this season the NHL has honored Carlson for his stellar efforts. He was named the NHL's first star in October and was the second star of the week for the week of October 14-20.

Two of Carlson's three goals last week were game-winners, and the week included his sixth three-point performance this season.

Carlson currently tops the league's defensemen in goals (11), assists (32), points (43) and game-winning goals (4) through 31 outings this season.

He is also the only Caps player on pace for a 100+ point season.

And that pace is historic. The only two defensemen in NHL history that have recorded as many points through their team’s first 31 games of a campaign are Bobby Orr (5x, most recently in 1974-75: 21-37—58 w/ BOS) and Al MacInnis (1990-91: 13-31—44 w/ CGY).

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Alex Ovechkin saddened by WADA banning Russia from the 2022 Olympic

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Alex Ovechkin saddened by WADA banning Russia from the 2022 Olympic

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Alex Ovechkin's hopes of representing Russia in the 2022 Olympics may already be dashed, not by the NHL, but by the World Anti-Doping Agency. The WADA executive committee handed down a four-year ban to the Russia on Monday, barring the country from competing in all major sporting events subject to the World Anti-Doping Code including the 2020 Summer Olympic Games and the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing.

Olympic participation is a major sticking point between the NHL and players and the NHL did not allow players to take part in the 2018 games in PyeongChang, South Korea. Now it appears that even if the players are allowed to go to Beijing, Ovechkin will not be able to fully represent his native country.

“I just heard it today," Ovechkin said. "Obviously, it’s sad news but I think I’m gonna have more information later. It’s bad. I feel bad for people working so hard for this moment and they can’t be there. I just hear it right before practice, so I don’t have much information on it.”

Russia was also banned in 2018, but its athletes were still allowed to compete. They represented a neutral flag and were referred to as the Olympic  Athletes from Russia.

While Ovechkin was certainly disappointed by the news of the ban, he sounded hopeful that there would still be an avenue for him to compete if in fact NHL players would be allowed to go.

"It’s always disappointing to hear something like that," Ovechkin said. "I hope everything’s going to be well. We still have a long time ‘til the Olympics to figure out what to do. What’s better to do. Hope everything’s going to be fine.”

Without any NHL participation, the Olympic Athletes entered the 2018 Olympics favored and did, in fact, take home the gold. Ovechkin said his excitement for cheering on his home nation was not dampened by the fact that they were not able to wear a Russian jersey or represent the Russian flag.

“To be honest with you I just looked at the scores and cheered for our guys," he said. "I didn’t pay too much attention [to] it. I was just happy for our guys scoring goals.”

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