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Barry Trotz adjusts overtime strategy as the Caps bag the Leafs

Barry Trotz adjusts overtime strategy as the Caps bag the Leafs

Barry Trotz made an adjustment to his overtime strategy on Tuesday, and it paid off with a 6-5 win over the visiting Maple Leafs.

Faceoff specialist Jay Beagle started the extra session with Eveny Kuznetsov and John Carlson. Beagle won the draw over to Kuznetsov, who controlled the puck and passed it backward to Philipp Grubauer, allowing Beagle to change for Alex Ovechkin.

The Capitals’ captain, of course, ripped the game winner past Frederik Anderson just 22 seconds into the overtime to extend the Caps’ winning streak to three games while halting the Leafs’ streak at five.

RELATED: Trotz felt Holtby was 'battling the puck' in first period

Normally, Trotz deploys two defensemen—Carlson and Karl Alzner—along with Kuznetsov to start overtime. In the past, if Kuznetsov won the draw and the Caps gained possession, Alzner would change for a forward. If Kuznetsov lost the faceoff, the Caps were well-positioned to defend with their top D-pairing already on the ice.

On Tuesday night, Trotz opted for two forwards—one of whom, Beagle, entered the night ranked fourth in the league in faceoff winning percentage (59.1-percent). Kuznetsov's percentage is right around 42.

So, with the Caps struggling badly in shootouts (1-4) why not go for possession right off the opening draw in overtime?

“We had two scenarios,” Trotz explained. “One was who they put on the ice. And with that, when they put more of the checkers on there, we said, ‘Let’s go right onto the offense.’ And we went for the draw. We start with the puck; it’s been brought to my attention, I know. But based on their personnel, that was our decision.”

The Leafs countered with Nazem Kadri, Leo Komarov and Morgan Rielly.

After Beagle won the draw, the Caps’ trio made quick work of the Leafs’ threesome. Carlson fired an outlet pass to Kuznetsov, who carried the puck deep into the Toronto zone. Kuzy circled the net, passed to Carlson, who zipped a cross ice pass to a wide open Ovechkin.

Bang. Game over.

MORE CAPITALS: Caps rally big, finish with Ovechkin OT winner

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Capitals service dog Captain wins Sports Dog of the Year

Capitals service dog Captain wins Sports Dog of the Year

As if any other candidate would even come close, Captain was named Sports Dog of the Year on Friday afternoon.

The four-legged phenom has been everywhere this fall, making his presence felt all over the DMV, and his popularity has extended nationwide.

Captain doesn't take days off and is always ready to have some fun.

He was there to maintain the peace during the biggest shopping day of the year and he made sure your Cyber Monday gifts arrived on time. 

He inspires greatness and has been a driving force behind the Mystics' WNBA Title as well as the Nationals' World Series victory.

He knows when its time to put in the work as well. He's always on time for meetings, and he has never missed a practice.

He's preparing to assist a Veteran or First Responder one day, and he's already making progress.

And he's always ready to celebrate.


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D.C. youth coaching legend Neal Henderson gets his due with U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame induction

D.C. youth coaching legend Neal Henderson gets his due with U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame induction

WASHINGTON — For 40 years Neal Henderson has given underprivileged kids the chance to play hockey at Fort Dupont Ice Arena.

On Thursday, Henderson was honored for his life’s work with induction into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.

Henderson was inducted along with NHL greats Tim Thomas and Brian Gionta, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and U.S. Olympian Krissy Wendell. He heard kind words spoken about his program, the Fort Dupont Cannons, from the likes of Bettman, Alex Ovechkin and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis and also received a video tribute. 

It’s been quite a week for Henderson, who drew a sustained ovation from the crowd at Tuesday’s Capitals-Boston Bruins game when acknowledged on the big video board at Capital One Arena. 

“It’s amazing. Something I never believed I could be a part of,” Henderson said. “It’s the zenith of my life other than being married and having a son. I’ve enjoyed what I have done. I didn’t do it for the reasons of being here. I did it for the love of kids and the parents who trusted me with their children.”  

Henderson said he “became completely numb” when he got the phone call learning he’d be inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. The Cannons developmental program, based at Fort Dupont, is designed to help local underprivileged kids play an expensive sport that is out of reach for many. Fort Dupont features the oldest minority hockey league in North America. 

It’s not a route to the NHL. But Henderson has helped kids play high school and college hockey, passing on the lessons he’s learned over decades: That hard work and character matter. That education is crucial. He believes hockey helps forge those traits. The Cannons give kids a chance to travel to other cities to play games. They were an integral part of the NHL’s Hockey is for Everyone campaign, which seeks to broaden the sport, make it more inclusive, help better communities.

A clip showed during Ovechkin’s tribute video after being named the Wayne Gretzky International Award recipient at Thursday’s induction dinner, showed the Stanley Cup at Fort Dupont with the Cannons. That was Ovechkin’s idea, according to Leonsis.

“I asked Alex ‘Where do you want to go?’ He said ‘I want to see kids at Georgetown Cancer Center.” And we went there. And then he wanted to pay homage to Coach Neal,” Leonsis said. “And so we went to Fort Dupont. It’s great that he’s here.”

Henderson said he hoped his induction would help encourage more people of color to embrace hockey. He started the program in the late 1970s thinking he’d simply get his son through the program, which works with kids ages 8 to 18. But he just kept going – in part because kids kept coming to the Cannons and in part because he just couldn’t refuse them. Decades later he’s still here working with them. 

“A lot of people don’t feel that they have the opportunity when it’s right at their back door,” Henderson said. “If they take just one more step they’ll find that there are people out there that’s willing to help them. All you have to do is be there willing to make sure they get the chance.”