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Tom Wilson knows he has to perform with his huge contract extension

Tom Wilson knows he has to perform with his huge contract extension

Tom Wilson got term.

He got a boatload of cash, too.

Now, the rugged Caps’ winger says, it’s up to him to continue to grow his game and improve upon the career-best numbers he put up last season.

“I love it in Washington,” Wilson said via conference call on Monday. “It's definitely a second home for me and I've had nothing but good times there. So, obviously, I was thrilled to get some term and continue to make it my home. It's nice to have that confidence from them. I think both sides are happy and now I'm just excited to be around for as long as possible.”

Wilson signed a six-year extension that will average $5.17 million late last week, making him the fifth highest paid forward on the Caps’ roster. The deal will keep him in Washington through the 2023-24 season, when he’s 30.

During the 2017-18 campaign, Wilson emerged as a key player on the ice and an important voice in the locker room. In addition to finding a home on Alex Ovechkin’s line, the former first round pick posted career-highs in goals (14), assists (21), points (35), plus/minus (+10) and penalty minutes (187). He also ranked fourth in the NHL in both hits (250) and penalties drawn per 60 minutes (1.78).

In the playoffs, Wilson missed three games due to suspension but still managed to produce five goals and 10 assists in helping the Caps to their first Stanley Cup.

As much as he already brings to the table, he’s got to bring even more to match the terms of his new deal.

And he gets that.  

“Every year I've continued to grow my responsibility and my role,” Wilson said. “I've taken more on my plate every year and, with this deal, that's going to continue to be expected. I spent the second half of the year playing the majority of the time on the top line, and I felt comfortable there, whether it was with [Evgeny Kuznetsov] or [Nicklas Backstrom] and then obviously Ovi. …It's a big commitment. It's six years and that's a long time. Each year I'm going to have to continue to perform. The NHL is about consistency.”

With Wilson back in the fold, the Caps’ offseason work is all but done. In fact, the defending Stanley Cup champion is bringing back 11 of the 12 forwards from the championship run, the entire defense and the starting goaltender.

“It's really exciting,” Wilson said, “because when you look at that the beginning of this year, a lot of people were uncertain what the future of this organization was going to hold. We didn't know what kind of team we were going to be this year. [But] guys stepped up, guys grew into new roles and we won. We were supposed to be in kind of a little bit of a down period, a rebuild period, but we proved to ourselves this past year that we can do it, that we can play great hockey and a lot of familiar faces [are] coming back.”

He added: “It's nothing but excitement from my end, and the team's pretty pumped to keep moving forward.”  

Now that his future is settled, Wilson can begin to focus on what’s next for him personally: his day with the Stanley Cup.

After watching the Cup make the rounds in Moscow, Minnesota and Winnipeg, to name a few of the stops, Wilson gets the Cup on Sunday in Toronto and plans to share it with family, friends and others who have been instrumental in his success.

“I have been following [the Cup] a little bit from the social media part of it,” Wilson said. “To be honest, I wish I could be at every single [celebration]. It’s been fun. I’ve been texting with a few of the guys and calling a few of the guys. It’s so much fun as a teammate to be able to watch those special moments with guys and their families and what they want to do on their day. It’s a lot of moments within that day that you’ll never forget so I’m pretty excited for my day to spend some time with it.”

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With NHL season paused, a ranking of Capitals' best wins of 2019-20: No. 3

With NHL season paused, a ranking of Capitals' best wins of 2019-20: No. 3

While we wait for the NHL to hopefully resume its season, NBC Sports Washington is looking back at the 20 best wins of the Capitals' season so far. Mark Zaner, producer for Caps Faceoff Live and Caps Overtime Live, has watched every game. His rankings continue with No. 3, a 5-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights on Nov. 9 that featured a complete effort from the Capitals, a first for Jonas Siegenthaler and some pregame espionage from Brent Johnson. 

You can re-watch the game tonight on NBC Sports Washington at 8pm. 

WHAT HAPPENED 

In a 2018 Stanley Cup Finals rematch, and perhaps a matchup you could see in the 2020 Stanley Cup Final, Washington came out flying. Dmitry Orlov feathered a perfect two-line pass past three Golden Knights defenders and right to Evgeny Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov had no problem beating Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury 58 seconds into the game 

 

The Capitals make it 2-0 just minutes later. Amid a line change, the Knights coughed up the puck in their own end. Tom Wilson, who was about to go off the ice, jumped back into the attack and beat Fleury with a wrist shot. 

 

Two Vegas goals sandwiched a Siegenthaler tally to make it 3-2 Capitals entering the third period. Enter Nicklas Backstrom. His first goal came on the power play. With all the Knights attention focused on Ovechkin, Backstrom threw a wrister on Fleury from the right faceoff circle. Fleury got a piece of it, but let it trickle through for the score.  

 

Backstrom scored a rare empty-net goal late in the period instead of deferring to Ovechkin. The Capitals owned the third period on their way to an impressive 5-2 win. 

MEMORABLE MOMENTS 

Siegenthaler made his NHL debut on Nov. 9 in 2018. Exactly one year later he scored his first career goal. Travis Boyd and Nic Dowd executed a picture-perfect dump-and-chase. Boyd waited in the corner for a line change and fed Siegenthaler, who was streaking to the net without anyone marking him. 

  

WHY IT WAS SIGNIFICANT 

If you look at the rest of my Top 10 Caps wins, most of the games are exciting comebacks or see-saw affairs. Games that were generally exciting to watch or something crazy happened. This game makes the list because it’s peak Washington Capitals. This team was playing almost flawless hockey from the middle of October through the end of November. This was Washington’s sixth straight win. In this game, the Caps got more shots, earned more power plays, won more faceoffs, blocked more shots and out-hit their opponent. And they weren’t playing the Ducks (entry #9) or the Kings (#7). The Vegas Golden Knights were - and are - a legitimate Western Conference contender. I would argue that the Capitals win over Vegas was their best 60-minute effort against a quality opponent all season long.  
 
WHAT WE WERE TALKING ABOUT 

Backstrom was an assist short of a Gordie Howe hat trick. Backstrom and T.J. Oshie started a bit of a fight towards the end of the second period. Not a shock to see the Caps and Knights chirp at each other, but it was unusual to see those two at the center of it. 

 

If Fleury looked a little sluggish, he might have had a good excuse. NBC Sports Washington’s Brent Johnson, who played with Fleury in Pittsburgh, took his good friend out to a big steak dinner the night before the game. That’s how you work the long con. Good job, Johnny. 

 

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Holtby shuts out Islanders to start NHL 20 simulated playoffs with a Capitals victory

Holtby shuts out Islanders to start NHL 20 simulated playoffs with a Capitals victory

The Capitals opened the playoffs on the right foot on Wednesday with a 3-0 shutout victory in Game 1 over the New York Islanders in an NHL 20 simulation.

Result: Caps 3, Islanders 0

1st period

No goals

2nd period

1-0 Caps goal: Alex Ovechkin from Tom Wilson and Brenden Dillon

A breakout pass from Dillon set-up a 3-on-2 rush for the Caps. Wilson fed the puck to the high-slot where Ovechkin one-timed it past goalie Semyon Varlamov into the top corner.

2-0 Caps goal: John Carlson, unassisted

The Islanders halted T.J. Oshie as he entered the offensive zone with the puck. A trailing Carlson picked up the loose puck and fired a slap shot that hit off the cross bar and planted itself on the goal line. Defenseman Andy Greene tried to take the puck off the line behind Varlamov, but accidentally knocked it over instead.

3rd period

3-0 Caps goal (empty-netter): Carl Hagelin, unassisted

Defenseman Scott Mayfield got a bit too cute in the offensive zone as he tried to bank a pass off the boards. It was intercepted by Hagelin who took it from the Caps' defensive zone to the other end of the ice, finishing off the game with the empty-net goal.

How the Caps won

1. The 2nd period

Things were pretty even after the opening frame. The Islanders were dominating in shots on goal 11-5, but the Caps had more higher-quality opportunities in what was, to that point, a scoreless game. Washington took complete control in the second period. Not only did Ovechkin and Carlson give the Caps a 2-0 lead, but the team put on a possession clinic, keeping the puck off the sticks of the Islanders at every turn.

The Caps outshot New York in the middle frame 7-0.

2. Braden Holtby

Despite misfiring in the second, the Islanders did manage a few quality shots and fired 11 shots on goal in the third period, but Holtby was there to turn each one of them aside. After not getting a shutout almost the entire season, Holtby now has two in as many simulations. He blanked the Florida Panthers in the regular-season finale as well.

3. Physical hockey

The blue and orange were left black and blue by the Caps who manhandled them physically throughout the game. New York had a tendency to hold onto the puck a bit too long looking for open passes and Washington made them pay each time. Carlson in particular was a wrecking ball. He was credited with only three hits, but in all three he knocked his opponent down to the ice.

Round 1 scoreboard

Washington leads New York 1-0
Philadelphia leads Pittsburgh 1-0
Boston leads Toronto 1-0
Tampa Bay leads Florida 1-0

Minnesota leads St. Louis 1-0
Colorado leads Dallas 1-0
Winnipeg leads Vegas 1-0
Edmonton leads Calgary 1-0

Next game

Game 2 will be simmed on Thursday.

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