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Tom Wilson sparks latest round of Alex Ovechkin-Sidney Crosby rivalry beef

Tom Wilson sparks latest round of Alex Ovechkin-Sidney Crosby rivalry beef

CAPITAL ONE ARENA – Do not tell the Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins it is only December. To say Wednesday’s contest between the two rivals was an intense one would be putting it mildly.

It took all of 55 seconds before fisticuffs broke out between the two teams, as Tom Wilson knocked Penguins defenseman Jamie Oleksiak senseless to the delight of the red-clad Caps fans. The cheering did not stop there as Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin could be seen screaming at each other from their benches after the fight.

Crosby explained why the two began jawing at one another after the game.

"I'm just trying to find out why it wasn't an instigator [penalty] and he started yelling at me for some reason,” Crosby said. “My conversation was with the official, not with him, so I don't know why he felt the need to come over."

Since, of course, you never see both captains discussing calls with referees. That just doesn’t happen.

Oh….

It’s not all that clear exactly what Crosby saw to justify an instigator call. After Oleksiak finished a check on Matt Niskanen, Wilson immediately made a beeline for him, but he certainly did not catch Oleksiak by surprise.

“He went a long way to make that hit, and right when we looked at each other, it was on,” Wilson said.

Both players knew a fight was coming, and Oleksiak even got off the first swing.

As a captain, there’s nothing wrong with Crosby appealing to the referees on his team’s behalf, just like there’s nothing wrong with an opposing captain inserting himself into that conversation to make sure an opponent isn't able to get that extra call from the refs.

Talking to the referees is part of the job when you get that C on your chest and it would have looked really bad for Ovechkin if Crosby had managed to wheedle an instigator call without any opposition from the Caps’ captain.

Neither Crosby nor Ovechkin really did anything wrong here, but like everything on Wednesday cooler heads did not prevail and things escalated into a shouting match between two of the sport’s greatest players.

If this is what we can expect should these two teams meet again in the postseason, there’s only one question left to ask: Is it April yet?

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Capitals vs. Flyers: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

Capitals vs. Flyers: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

The Washington Capitals are facing off against the Philadelphia Flyers in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, March 24 at 12:30 p.m. The Capitals are recovering from a 1-2 loss against the Minnesota Wild, and the Philadelphia Flyers are playing the Islanders at 1 p.m. on Saturday, but beat the Blackhawks 3-1 on Thursday.

Here’s everything you need to know to watch the Flyers play the Capitals on Sunday afternoon.

CAPITALS vs. FLYERS PRESEASON HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals vs. Philadelphia Flyers
Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.
When: 12:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: You can live stream Capitals vs. Flyers on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the NBC Sports App.
Radio: Caps 24/7 Radio, 106.7 The Fan FM

CAPITALS vs. FLYERS TV SCHEDULE

10:00 AM: Capitals Championship Parade 
11:00 AM: 2019 Caps Journey to the Cup Part 1
11:30 AM: Caps FaceOff Live
12:00 PM: Caps FaceOff Live [NBC Sports Washington Plus]
3:00 PM: Caps Postgame Live
3:30 PM: Caps Overtime Live
3:30 PM: Caps Overtime Live [NBC Sports Washington Plus]

CAPITALS vs. FLYERS INJURY REPORT:

CAPITALS: 
Michal Kempny, lower body injury as of March 19

FLYERS: 
Michael Raffl, undisclosed injury as of March 20
Samuel Morin, illness as of March 18
Michal Neuvirth, lower body injury as of Jan. 3

CAPITALS vs. FLYERS PLAYERS TO WATCH

Brett Connolly (20 goal, 22 assists, 42 points): Connolly was the only Capital to put a point on the board during Friday’s game against the Minnesota Wild. He scored in the second period, tying the game going into the third. He’s scored three goals in the team’s last five games and has contributed with three assists.

Christian Djoos (1 goal, 7 assists, 8 points): Djoos played against Minnesota on Friday following Michal Kempny’s “indefinite” injury leave. Djoos didn’t contribute to the Caps with any key stats, though he played for almost 17 minutes and had two shots on goal. 

CAPITALS vs. FLYERS SERIES HISTORY 

Number of all-time Meetings: 247 games
Regular Season Record: Flyers lead 127-101-19
Last Meeting: Capitals won 5-2 on March 14

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An emotional hangover leaves Capitals flat in 2-1 loss to Wild

An emotional hangover leaves Capitals flat in 2-1 loss to Wild

WASHINGTON – The Capitals were not quite ready to play on Friday against the Minnesota Wild and maybe you can’t blame them. 

Coming off one of the season’s most intense games, a wild 5-4 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday, one of three games this month against the Presidents’ Trophy winners, Washington didn’t have it for a Wild team it had beaten eight times in a row. That 2-1 defeat offered a lesson they need to carry forward for the final two games of this homestand at Capital One Arena. 

The Capitals (43-24-8, 94 points) couldn’t match the desperation of a Minnesota team that entered the day one point out of a playoff position in the Western Conference. The Wild had to win. Washington would have liked a win. The difference showed on the ice.

“It was obviously a different game that way. I think you could tell they got more desperate as the game went on,” goalie Braden Holtby said. “They don't give up much, they're pretty stingy defensively. After coming off some emotional games lately I think we didn't ramp it up enough for this one, for their situation, how they were playing. It was a close game. It was one that we'd like to play a bit better, but we still did a lot of good things."

They just didn’t do enough of them consistently. The Philadelphia Flyers (80 points) are on the fringe of the playoff race in the Eastern Conference and down to their final gasps of breath. Expect a similar effort from them on Sunday afternoon when they visit Capital One Arena. For the Capitals, who lead the Pittsburgh Penguins and the New York Islanders by three points (93), they need a win on this four-game homestand.

Another loss will suddenly put the Metropolitan Division back in play for multiple teams. The Islanders also have an extra game remaining and know they play in Washington on the final day of the regular season April 6. 

“We can use this and learn from it,” defenseman Nick Jensen said. “These teams are desperate for points and we still need to be, too.”

The Capitals weren’t bad; they just didn’t match Minnesota’s level. They were 0-for-3 on the power play, and on two of those attempts, didn’t generate any shots on goal. A couple of mistakes – a Brooks Orpik misplay late in the first period and a Matt Niskanen turnover in the neutral zone – led directly to goals by Jordan Greenway and Luke Kunin. Holtby stopped 25 of 27 shots.

But it never felt like enough. Brett Connolly tipped home a shot from Jensen in the second period. But there weren’t enough puck battles won, there weren’t enough pucks sent behind the Minnesota defensemen. It was an average game and that was never going to be enough tonight. The Wild moved into sole possession of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Capitals stayed where they were in the standings.  

“That was a very intense game [against Tampa Bay], three games in four days for us, but that's a game that they deserved to win more than us,” Capitals coach Todd Reirden said. “Our execution level and desperation wasn't as high as theirs was and they were able to convert on a couple more of their chances than we did.”

Added captain Alex Ovechkin: "Everybody needs points right now, and it doesn't matter who you play against, it's not going to be an easy one, especially a team who fights for a playoff spot. It's playoff hockey. I don't think we were ready tonight, and the blame's on us."

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