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'I live and die by this:' Meet the mother-daughter duo that credit Capitals for family union

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'I live and die by this:' Meet the mother-daughter duo that credit Capitals for family union

WASHINGTON-- Thanks to her mother, Emily Harper has been a die-hard Capitals fan all of her life. 

“I’ve grown up with hockey, thanks to her,” Emily said of her mother, Pam Harper. “The TV’s always on at home, and I can hear her screams from upstairs!”

The two were at Capital One Arena on Saturday to watch Game 2 of the Caps playoffs against the Carolina Hurricanes, during which the Caps won 4-3.

On Thursday night, the two were back at Capital One Arena, like thousands of others, to rock the red and support the Caps from miles away at the team's official Game 4 watch party. Events like these, and the Capitals' postseason success, have helped bring the two together. 

One of their fondest memories together, they said, was watching the Capitals win the Stanley Cup outside of Capital One last June. She came to the Arena with her sister, daughter and niece, among other family members, to watch the Caps’ victory.

“It really brought my family together,” Pam said. “My sister isn’t into sports, and she is now a fan of the Capitals. [Watching games] is a now whole family event.”

Pam buys Caps tickets in bulk to make sure that her family and friends can be in on the action.

“For nine months, I schedule my entire life around hockey,” Pam said.

Pam has an entire wall of her house dedicated to the Capitals and their Stanley Cup victory: “The whole wall is filled with the Arena, the Stadium Series, lots of photos of Ovi,” she said, referencing Alexander Ovechkin, the Caps’ captain.

Emily pulled out her phone to show a video of a homemade banner-raising ceremony following the Stanley Cup win.

“It fell down the first time,” Emily said, laughing alongside her mother. “We were all cracking up, it was so funny.”

Emily recalled her first away game with her mother: “We actually went to Raleigh to watch the Caps play the ‘Canes. The Caps won in the final seconds, and we screamed, but of course, nobody around us was happy.”

Her mother added, laughing with tears in her eyes, “We didn’t think we were going to make it out of there OK!”

The Caps have given the mother-daughter duo, as well as their surrounding family and friends, a reason to get together.

“As long as you keep having watch parties,” Pam said, “we will be here.” 

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Capitals vs. Predators: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, how to watch

Capitals vs. Predators: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, how to watch

After sitting out the Capitals' 4-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens due to a suspension for skipping the All-Star Game, Alex Ovechkin returns to game action on Wednesday for Washington's home contest against the Predators.

Nashville has dropped three of its last four while the Capitals are riding a four-game winning streak.

Here's everything you need to know before puck drop.

CAPITALS vs. PREDATORS: HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals vs. Nashville Predators

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: Wednesday, January 29, 7:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: The Capitals-Predators game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Predators game on NBC Sports Washington live stream page.

Radio: Caps Radio 24/7

CAPITALS-PREDATORS TV SCHEDULE:

6:30 PM: Caps Faceoff Live

7:00 PM: Caps Pregame Live

7:30 PM: Capitals vs. Predators

10:00 PM: Caps Postgame Live

10:30 PM: Caps Overtime Live

CAPITALS-PREDATORS INJURY REPORT:

Capitals: None

Canadiens: Ryan Ellis (upper body/OUT), Colton Sissons (upper body/OUT)

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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What makes Alex Ovechkin so hard to stop?

What makes Alex Ovechkin so hard to stop?

With Alex Ovechkin’s one-game suspension over, the NHL now once again faces the seemingly impossible task of trying to find a way to stop the Great 8. Even at 34 years old, Ovechkin remains one of the top goal scorers in the NHL with 34 on the season. He is currently on pace for 56 goals which is almost unfathomable for a player of his age.

Many players in the NHL catch fire before defenses begin to figure them out or until Father Time catches up to them. Coaches and defenses figure out ways to keep star players in check. But not Ovechkin.

“You feel like you're covering him, but he always finds a way,” Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi said. “He needs just a tiny bit of room to score goals and that's why he has so many goals.”

Not only is Ovechkin the leading active scorer in the NHL by a wide margin -- he leads second place Patrick Marleau by 133 goals -- but he is such a prolific scorer that he could potentially make a run at the untouchable goal record held by Wayne Gretzky.

It is not as if Ovechkin is catching anyone by surprise at this point. Teams know what they are in for when they play the Caps and still they cannot find a way to slow down this grey-haired, 34-year-old veteran player.

It is not hard to figure out the biggest reason for Ovechkin's success: his shot. Once Ovechkin gets his shot off, it is hard for a goalie to get in front of it.

“He's not afraid to put anything on net,” Winnipeg Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck said. “He's got a really good release and if you give him space, he'll take it and he'll make you pay for it.”

“It kind of curves, changing direction every time so it's pretty hard to stop for a goalie,” Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy said. “Like knuckleball, right? So it's very hard to stop.”

Knowing that his shot is so lethal, the focus of a defense must be to prevent him from getting his shot away in the first place. Doing that, however, is easier said than done.

“It's always a challenge playing against him,” Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said. “He's got that mean streak to his game. When he's coming at full speed it's going to hurt. He gets physical, he gets into the game more. He's always going to get scoring changes, that's how good they are as a team and that's how good he is.”

“He just can score from anywhere inside the blue line so you've got to get up on him,” Calgary Flames defenseman Mark Giordano said. “ It's been pretty impressive to watch him over the years. You sort of think teams would come up with a gameplan to stop him, but you can't.”

That’s a feeling Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy can relate to.

“[The power play] is where I think you have the biggest challenge with that group of five guys and how to frustrate him, maybe to taking that shot away,” Cassidy said. “Five-on-five, we'll play him like anybody else, try to get a body on him as much as possible.”

It is essentially accepted around the league that if you give Ovechkin an opportunity with the puck, he is going to be able to find a way to get his shot off and get on the scoresheet. He does not need much room to shoot and when he does, it's lethal.

There is only so much you can do when a power forward of Ovechkin's size comes barreling down on you. If you play him too tight, he can create space with his physicality. Play him too loose and he will fire shots from anywhere.

That leaves a defense with only a few strategies.

“Try to keep the puck out of his hand is one thing, stay out of the box is another thing,” Hedman said. “He's got that quick release, he's got that one-timer down to a T obviously. … It's just trying to eliminate them to a few a game. You look at a game sheet and he's got 14 shot attempts and two goals. A good player's going to find the net if they get that many chances, so try to eliminate the shot attempts and try to keep the puck out of his hands.”

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