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Tarik's 3 Stars: Caps win again to close out the regular season

Tarik's 3 Stars: Caps win again to close out the regular season

Alex Ovechkin tallied goals No. 48 and 49, Nicklas Backstrom chipped in with a beauty and Shane Gersich notched his first career point for the Caps, who closed out the regular season with a 5-3 victory over the Taylor Hall-less Devils on Saturday in D.C.

For the better part of a month, the Caps talked about finishing off the regular season with purpose and entering the postseason with momentum. And with the win—their 12th in the final 15 games—Ovechkin and Co. have done just that.

Tarik’s three stars of the game:

1-Alex Ovechkin, Capitals

Ovechkin scored goals in the first and third periods and took a legitimate run at 50, finishing with 18 shot attempts.

Alas, he wasn’t able to get there (despite a late breakaway and a couple of power plays) and wrapped up just a goal short of an eighth 50-goal season. No. 8 did, however, seize his seventh Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy while also becoming only the second player at 32 or older to lead the league in goals. (Bobby Hull also led the NHL in goal seven times.)   

2-Nicklas Backstrom, Capitals

Backstrom roofed a sweet pass from Brett Connolly late in the first period to put the Caps ahead 2-1.

After a slow start to the season, Backstrom finished the season with 21 goals and 70 points. Backstrom’s final 15 games? How about five goals and 16 assists.

3-Michal Kempny, Capitals

Kempny put the Caps ahead 3-1 in the second period with a point blast that was set up by Gersich. The goal was Kempny’s third of the season and second since joining in February.

The Czech blue liner, however, wasn’t done. In the third period, he pinched in deep and slid a deft pass to Andre Burakovsky, who stuck the puck past Cory Schneider to put the game away, 5-3.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think in the comments.

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Capitals turn experimental as Stanley Cup playoffs approach

Capitals turn experimental as Stanley Cup playoffs approach

WASHINGTON – The Capitals are sick and they are tired and they are injured and they are experimenting.

That’s the takeaway with six games left to go in the regular season after a 3-1 win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday at Capital One Arena. Todd Reirden mixed his defensive pairs routinely and did the same in the third period with his forward lines, which led to a goal for Jakub Vrana.

Washington extended its lead in the Metropolitan Division to three points over the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins. But they have been forced to look at different options thanks to an injury to defenseman Michal Kempny and illness spreading through the forward ranks at a bad time.

And so that’s how John Carlson started the game on the right side of the top pairing as usual, but was soon on the left side of the ice, with Nick Jensen moving up to replace Christian Djoos. At various times, Brooks Orpik played with Jensen and Djoos on the third pair. Kempny is out indefinitely, so Reirden doesn’t have much time to configure his ideal pairings. And trying to win a division title while doing so is problematic. 

“I feel perfectly comfortable playing with any of our D,” said Jensen, who was acquired just before the NHL trade deadline in late February. “I think they're all capable of playing great defense, and I think they're all really great D and we tend to all be on the same page a lot of the time. When we're switching up D-pairings there, it might be a little bit of an adjustment period, but we'll get used to it as it goes down the line as we keep playing with each other.”

They’d rather have Kempny, of course. Washington had turned the tide on shot attempts during the 10 games after Jensen was acquired and the lineup was stable. It was a good sign heading into the Stanley Cup playoffs. Unfortunately, Kempny is out indefinitely and no one is sure if or when he will return.    

“We're looking for the right combinations that work for us that can set us up for future success,” Reirden said. “Just some guys that aren't 100-percent in terms of lets say sickness wise that are low on energy so you have to manage those minutes as well. So there's a lot of things in play that cause for that type of mix and match stuff both with up front and on our blue line.” 

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Capitals' significant others show off puppies, announce Homeward Trails donations

Capitals' significant others show off puppies, announce Homeward Trails donations

If you didn't think you could love the Caps more, think again.

With an assist from some puppies, Caps' significant others Katrina Connolly, Paige Dowd, Tasha Maltman and Taylor Pischke announced a $177,000 donation to Homeward Trails Animal Rescue on the jumbotron during Sunday's 3-1 win over the Flyers.

All of the proceeds came from the Caps' 2019 canine calendars and were donated on behalf of the Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation. Since 2014, the foundation has donated over $400,000 to Homeward Trails through the Capitals' annual canine calendars.

The puppies featured on the jumbotron are all available for adoption.

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