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Why a smiling Ovechkin was forced to leave Wednesday’s game briefly in the first period

Why a smiling Ovechkin was forced to leave Wednesday’s game briefly in the first period

A nasty collision between Alex Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie resulted in Ovechkin getting pulled into the locker room in the first period of Wednesday’s Capitals game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Early in the first period, Oshie skated past Morgan Rielly attempting to chip the puck away from him along the boards. As he kept skating, he came directly into the path of Ovechkin and the two collided violently in the neutral zone. Oshie popped up quickly, but Ovechkin stayed down on the ice.

After a few nervous moments, Ovechkin got back onto his feet and was seen smiling on the bench and joking with Oshie about the hit. He also appeared to be grabbing his chest.

A few moments later, head athletic trainer Jason Serbus was seen talking to Ovechkin and Ovechkin got up off the bench and walked into the locker room.

It was later confirmed by the NBCSN broadcast that Ovechkin was pulled by the concussion spotter after it appeared Ovechkin’s face crashed directly into Oshie’s shoulder.

Concussion spotters are authorized to require a player’s removal from play in order to evaluate them for a concussion following a blow to the head. If the player passes all concussion tests and is deemed not to have suffered a concussion, he is able to return.

While it appeared Ovechkin was fine after the hit, the concussion spotter saw enough on the hit to believe Ovechkin needed to be evaluated. It may be an inconvenience, but could prevent players from remaining on the ice after suffering a concussion.

Luckily for the Caps, Ovechkin returned late in the first literally just in time for Washington’s first power play of the game. The Caps did score on the power play, though Ovechkin did not record a point on the play.

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Capitals at Maple Leafs: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

Capitals at Maple Leafs: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

Things aren't going great for the Washington Capitals of late.

After leading for 59:59 of Tuesday night's game against the San Jose Sharks and with one second left in regulation, Evander Kane scored to force overtime and Tomas Hertl eventually scored the game winner. The late collapse extended the Caps' losing streak to six for the first time in five years, and now they must travel to Toronto to face the Maple Leafs for one final game before the All-Star break. 

Wednesday's matchup will also be the final game for the Leafs before the All-Star break. Just like the Caps, they too are in need of a week off. Since the NHL's holiday break, Toronto has won only three of 10, scoring 24 times in that 10-game stretch. 

At home, the Leafs have a 13-11-1 record this season but have lost four straight and six of their last seven. 

Here's everything you need to know before the Caps hit the ice for the last time until Feb. 1. 

CAPITALS at MAPLE LEAFS HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals at Toronto Maple Leafs, 2018-19 NHL Regular Season
Where: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, ON, Canada
When: 7:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: You can live stream Capitals at Leafs 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 at MAPLE LEAFS TV SCHEDULE

6:30 PM: Caps Faceoff Live
7:00 PM: Caps Pregame Live
7:30 PM: Capitals vs. Leafs on NBCSN
10:90 PM: Caps Postgame Live
10:30 PM: Caps Overtime Live
11:00 PM: D.C. Sports Live

CAPITALS at MAPLE LEAFS INJURY REPORT

Capitals: 
Maple Leafs: D Jake Gardiner (day-to-day with back spasms) 

CAPITALS at MAPLE LEAFS PLAYERS TO WATCH

Braden Holtby, G, Capitals (17 wins, 11 losses, 3 OT losses, 97 GA): The Caps were a second away from snapping their five-game losing streak until Evander Kane got one past Holtby and Tomas Hertl scored the winner. In their six-game losing streak, the Caps have given up 30 goals and 52 in their last 10. A solid performance from Holtby and a W heading into the All-Star break could help the Caps get out of their funk. 

John Tavares, C, Maple Leafs (30 goals, 23 assist, 53 points): Tavares currently leads the Maple Leafs with 30 goals, with his last one coming Jan. 20 against the Arizona Coyotes. The centre is already making an impact for the Leafs after parting ways with the New York Islanders after nine seasons. 

CAPITALS at MAPLE LEAFS SERIES HISTORY 

Number of all-time Meetings: 151
All-Time Series Record: Caps lead 77-64-10
Last Meeting: Leafs win 4-2 (10/13/18)
Last 10: Caps lead 6-4 (including playoffs) 

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How one bad period cost the Caps the game against Toronto

How one bad period cost the Caps the game against Toronto

For 40 minutes on Saturday, the Capitals looked like the better team. Sure, they were tied at 2 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, but Washington had gotten the better of the play, they were outshooting Toronto and looked to be in firm control heading into the third period. A bad start to the final frame, however, devolved into a disastrous 20 minutes that saw a 2-2 game turn into a 4-2 loss for Washington.

“I really liked our first two periods keeping a very dangerous hockey team to some limited chances,” Todd Reirden said.

But a poor shift from the top line at the start of the third period set the tone as Toronto suddenly took control.

“We didn’t put puck deep and make couple turnovers,” Evgeny Kuznetsov said. “I think that’s what give them little bit energy.”

The main issue was puck management. Washington suddenly could not get through the neutral zone with the puck. They could not get the puck deep in Toronto’s zone. Turnovers began to creep into their game and the Caps were on their heels defending against a star-studded Toronto offense they had managed to keep in check all game long.

“We didn't manage the puck properly to start the third and in turn we lost some of the momentum of the game and they started to tilt the ice a little bit in their favor,” Reirden said.

“I think we started playing with a little more risk, got a little bit sloppy around the blue lines,” Lars Eller said, “And then we started making some turnovers and I don't know, forcing it a bit and not being as crisp.

“Say it how you want, we got away from our game a little bit in the third.”

With the Caps playing on their heels, Michal Kempny took a high-sticking penalty, the Caps’ third penalty of the game. Taking a penalty in a tie game against a Maple Leafs team that was producing at 50-percent heading into this game was playing with fire. Sure enough, Josh Leivo would tally what would become the game-winner just 41 seconds later.

For 40 minutes, the Caps were the better team. They killed off two power plays, allowed only two goals off deflections and had kept Auston Matthews out of the net. That all changed in the third and it cost Washington the game.

Said Kuznetsov, “That start of third period gave them energy and they got back deep in our zone and that's the probably game-changer.”

 

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