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Alex Ovechkin critical of officiating Monday in Pittsburgh

Alex Ovechkin critical of officiating Monday in Pittsburgh

A couple of days have passed, but Alex Ovechkin is still miffed about the multiple missed calls in Monday’s 8-7 overtime loss in Pittsburgh.

Speaking after Wednesday’s practice in Arlington, the Caps’ captain specifically referenced two of them—Patric Hornqvist’s high hit on T.J. Oshie and Sidney Crosby’s blatant trip on him in overtime.

“If it’s there, it’s there,” Ovechkin said, asked about remaining composed when addressing referees. “Like even last game, how many calls they miss?” Before four-on-four, it was a straight headshot on Osh and no call.”

The Capitals were leading 3-0 when Hornqvist forearmed Oshie’s jaw in the corner, briefly sending the first line winger to the dressing room. Following the ensuing scrum, Hornqvist and Daniel Winnik were sent off for roughing, and the Penguins struck twice as the sides skated four-on-four.

“Just call it,” Ovechkin said. “You killed the game and killed our momentum.”

Ovechkin did not address reporters after the game and the Caps were off on Tuesday.

The referees at PPG Paints Arena were Frederick L’Ecuyer and Dan O’Halloran.

Ovechkin also did not like the non-call on Crosby, who used his stick and skate to trip him as he carried the puck with speed early in the extra session. Conor Sheary ended the game moments later.

“I would say it was a pretty bad situation out there,” Ovechkin said. “In overtime, the same. There was clear trip and no call, but everybody makes mistakes.”

He added: “It’s emotion moments. I think everybody get involved, everybody has emotions. Again, if it’s [a] 100-pecent call and nobody make a whistle or don’t make a call, of course everybody going to be mad and sad about it.”

Another missed call that had an impact on the game arrived early in the third period. As Karl Alzner went to play the puck along the boards in the Caps' offensive zone, Bryan Rust cross checked the defenseman, creating a turnover. Rust gathered the puck, passed it to Sheary, who then found Crosby, who sniped a shot past Philipp Grubauer to make it 7-5.

Caps Coach Barry Trotz said he did not discuss the missed calls with the league. He also said it was his team’s execution four-on-four—and not its mindset after the missed call on Oshie—that sparked the Penguins’ comeback.

“I think you would lose your mind if you worried about every call,” Trotz said. “For the most part, I stand behind the referees. I think our sport is extremely difficult [to officiate]. It can be very frustrating. It’s easy for coaches and fans and media to look at plays in slow motion—without trying to avoid behind hit by pucks and people—and staying out of everybody’s way and making calls. Once-in-a-while [calls] are going to be missed. And when they’re missed at times of opportunity for the opposition, you can get frustrated. But I don’t lose too much sleep over it because I know I can’t change it.”

Related: Trotz doesn't think loss to Pittsburgh will send Capitals into a slump

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Tom Wilson immediately moves back onto the top line for Tuesday’s game in Minnesota

Tom Wilson immediately moves back onto the top line for Tuesday’s game in Minnesota

After a neutral arbitrator reduced Tom Wilson’s suspension on Tuesday, head coach Todd Reirden is wasting no time getting him back into the lineup. Wilson will make his season debut against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday  (8 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Washington) and he will play on the top line alongside Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov.

“That's where he's most comfortable,” Reirden said after the team’s morning skate Tuesday.

“They had some preseason time together and I thought it was the right move to do tonight. I liked some of the things that we saw from some of the adjustments we made last game, but I think this will allow Tom to have the most success after an extended period of time out of game action.”

With Wilson’s return the Caps will have their full offensive lineup for the first time this season. After reuniting Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie on the top line for Sunday’s game, Reirden has elected to change things again go with the same top nine that worked so effectively during the team’s playoff run last season, per Isabelle Khurshudyan.

Alex Ovechkin – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana – Nicklas Backstrom – T.J. Oshie
Andre Burakovsky – Lars Eller – Brett Connolly
Chandler Stephenson – Travis Boyd – Devante Smith-Pelly

Dmitry Orlov – John Carlson
Michal Kempny – Matt Niskanen
Christian Djoos – Madison Bowey

Pheonix Copley to start.

The addition of Wilson dramatically changes the team’s lineup and chemistry. Not only does it make the lineup deeper, he also obviously adds a major physical element.

“He's such a big part of our team, of the way we play, of the culture on and off the ice that we've been missing something,” Oshie said. “It's been 43 so it's great to have him back.”

While the Caps are getting their top-line winger back, the team is also entering the game well aware that it may take time for him to get up to game speed.

“For him, we have to have realistic expectations that he's going to have a little bit of a learning curve here in terms of getting back up to speed and getting back up to the pace of play which is something that's at an all-time high this year,” Reirden said.

With that in mind, do not be surprised to see the Caps shuffle their offensive lines throughout the night rather than lean on Wilson to play 18+ minutes in his first game back, especially if the Caps get into penalty trouble and Wilson plays on the penalty kill.

While Wilson did travel with the team in the event that his suspension would be reduced and he would be eligible to play, neither he nor the team received any advanced notice that he would be available.

“I wake up this morning and at 8:30 I get news I've got to get ready to play,” Wilson said.

“It was definitely a unique experience, one that you don't ever want to go through, a bit eye-opening. At the end of the day, there's a game today, I've got to focus on that and it's a big road trip so I've got to focus on this team getting back on track and do whatever I can to help out.”

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TJ Oshie celebrates Tom Wilson's return with incredible 'Free Willy 3' poster

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TJ Oshie celebrates Tom Wilson's return with incredible 'Free Willy 3' poster

After 16 games and an up and down start to 2018, the Washington Capitals can finally welcome their stud right winger Tom Wilson back to the lineup. 

On Tuesday, Wilson's 20-game suspension was reduced to 14 thanks to a neutral arbitrator. 

TJ Oshie apparently couldn't contain his excitement as he took to Twitter sharing a hilarious poster to celebrate. 

This wasn't the first time Wilson's fellow right winger posted something comical regarding Wilson's suspension. In fact, Tuesday's celebratory tweet completed the trilogy. 

Remember the initial Free Willy poster that kicked things off in October 2017? 

Or what about the sequel from last May? 

The Capitals travel to Minnesota for an 8 p.m. puck drop Tuesday night and although his playing status is unconfirmed, all signs point towards it being likely the 24-year-old will be in the lineup. 

 

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