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Burakovsky's two goals lift Capitals to Game 4 win

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Burakovsky's two goals lift Capitals to Game 4 win

Instant analysis of the Capitals’ 2-1 win over the New York Rangers Wednesday night at VerizonCenter in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifnals:

How it happened: One night after Barry Trotz described him as having “boy strength,” 20-year-old rookie Andre Burakovsky flexed his biceps in a big way, scoring the first two playoff goals of his career to provide the Caps with all the offense they needed. Braden Holtby stopped 28 of 29 shots, including a penalty shot by Carl Hagelin with 11:59 remaining in regulation.  

What it means: The Capitals have taken a commanding 3-1 lead in the series, which heads back to MadisonSquareGarden on Friday night for Game 5. If the Caps can close out the series in New York, they will face the winner of the Tampa Bay Lightning-Montreal Canadiens series. The Lightning hold a 3-0 lead in that series.

The Caps have never reached the Eastern Conference Finals since the arrival of Alex Ovechkin.

How the Rangers scored: New York scored first for the sixth time in nine playoff games when Derick Brassard netted his team-high fifth of the season on an odd-man rush with 6:12 gone in the second period. Brassard got a step in front of Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner, took a pass from Marty St. Louis and beat Braden Holtby high over his left shoulder. The goal was the Rangers’ first in five periods against Holtby, who saw his shutout streak end at 100 minutes, 5 seconds, dating back to Game 2.

How the Caps scored: With 3:31 remaining in the second period, Burakovsky found space in the high slot and despite right winger Troy Brouwer calling for a shot on his left, Burakovsky elected to shoot and beat Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist with a tracer over his right shoulder. It was Burakovsky’s first career playoff goal and it came on his third shot of the game and 11th of the playoffs.

MORE CAPITALS: NATIONALS COME OUT TO SUPPORT CAPS IN GAME 4

On his first shift of the third period Burakovsky struck again just 24 seconds into the period. This time, Brouwer blocked a shot by New York defenseman Ryan McDonagh at the Rangers’ offensive blue line, allowing Burakovsky to beak in alone on Lundqvist. Burakovsky shielded the back-checking McDonagh and beat Lundqvist past his glove with a backhander.

Save of the game: The game’s most pivotal moment came with just under 12 minutes remaining in regulation when Holtby stoned Rangers left wing Carl Hagelin on a penalty shot. Hagelin was awarded the shot after Caps defenseman Mike Green hooked him from behind and took away a scoring chance on a clean breakaway. With a chance to tie the game, Hagelin weaved in on Holtby and went forehand to backhand. But Holtby stayed with him and snatched Hagelin’s backhander with his catching glove.

Hit of the game: In the first period, Tom Wilson plastered his old junior teammate, J.T. Miller into the glass, then had a few choice words for his good friend.

Fight night: Caps defenseman Tim Gleason had his left eye bloodied in a third-period fight with Tanner Glass, just a coupel seconds after Gleason was checked into the Caps’ goal post by James Sheppard.

They don’t know Jack: Despite his role in the Capitals’ turnaround this season, coach Barry Trotz was passed over in Jack Adams award voting for NHL Coach of the Year voting. His replacement in Nashville, Peter Laviolette, is a finalist, along with Rangers coach Alain Vigneault and Flames coach Bob Hartley.  Members of the NHL Broadcasters’ Association vote for the Jack Adams.

What’s next: The Caps and Rangers will go back at it Friday night at 7:30 in Game 5 at MadisonSquareGarden. 

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NBC Sports to nationally broadcast 18 Capitals games in 2018-19 season

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NBC Sports

NBC Sports to nationally broadcast 18 Capitals games in 2018-19 season

All eyes will be on the Caps as they begin their quest to defend their Stanley Cup title. Literally.

NBC Sports released its national broadcast schedule for the NHL regular season on Monday and coverage will begin with the Capitals' home-opener on Oct. 3 against the Boston Bruins. The nation will be able to witness Washington raising its first Stanley Cup banner to the rafters on NBCSN.

NBC Sports will present a total of 109 games in 2018-19, the most since acquiring NHL rights before 2005-06 and the Caps will be featured prominently.

Washington will appear eight times on NBCSN's Wednesday Night Hockey, the most of any team in the NHL, and four times on NHL on NBC. NBCSN will also broadcast an additional six games.

All games will be streamed live on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app to authenticated users via TV Everywhere.

Here is the Capitals schedule as released by NBC Sports:

Wed. Oct. 3: Boston at Washington, 7:30 p.m. on NBCSN
Wed. Oct. 10: Vegas at Washington, 8 p.m. on NBCSN
Wed. Oct. 17: N.Y. Rangers at Washington, 7 p.m. on NBCSN
Wed. Nov. 7: Pittsburgh at Washington, 7:30 p.m. on NBCSN
Tues. Dec. 11: Detroit at Washington, 7:30 p.m. on NBCSN*
Wed. Dec. 19: Pittsburgh at Washington, 8 p.m. on NBCSN
Fri. Dec. 21: Buffalo at Washington, 7 p.m. on NBCSN*
Tues. Jan. 8: Philadelphia at Washington, 7:30 p.m. on NBCSN*
Sun. Jan. 20: Washington at Chicago, 12:30 p.m. on NBC
Wed. Jan. 23: Washington at Toronto, 7:30 p.m. on NBCSN
Sun. Feb. 3: Boston at Washington, 12:30 p.m. on NBC
Sun. March 3: Washington at N.Y. Rangers, 12:30 p.m. on NBC
Wed. March 6: Washington at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m. on NBCSN
Tues. March 12: Washington at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m. on NBCSN*
Tues. March 19: Washington at New Jersey, 7:30 p.m. on NBCSN*
Wed. March 20: Tampa Bay at Washington, 7:30 p.m. on NBCSN
Sun. March 24: Philadelphia at Washington, 12:30 p.m. on NBC
Tues. March 26: Carolina at Washington, 7 p.m. on NBCSN*

* These games will be broadcast nationally, but will not be seen on NBCSN locally because they will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington

NBC Sports Washington remains the home of the Capitals for the 2018-19 season and will broadcast a majority of the team's games for the season including pre and postgame coverage. You can also expect extensive coverage on NBCSportsWashington.com throughout the season.

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Key Caps questions: Who will play on the team's third defensive pair?

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USA TODAY Sports

Key Caps questions: Who will play on the team's third defensive pair?

The dog days of summer are officially here, but it's never too hot to talk some hockey.

Capitals correspondent JJ Regan is here to help you through the offseason doldrums as he discusses key questions facing the Caps for the upcoming season as Washington prepares to defend its title for the first time in franchise history.

Today's question: What will be the team's primary third defensive pairing?

Barring any PTOs or breakout performances in training camp, we can reasonably assume Brooks Orpik, Christian Djoos and Madison Bowey are going to be the three players battling it out to be on the third pair.

General manager Brian MacLellan went through some salary cap gymnastics to get Orpik back for next season at a much smaller cap hit, Djoos played 22 playoff games in the Caps’ Stanley Cup run and Bowey was signed to a one-way, two-year contract for $1 million per year. Clearly, all three are expected to be on the Caps’ roster next season and play a role, but that role will be limited considering the top-four is pretty much set with Michal Kempny-John Carlson and Dmitry Orlov-Matt Niskanen.

Orpik will be 38 years old at the start of the season. His on and off-ice contributions are much greater than many were willing to acknowledge, but he was never a fast player and at his age, holding him to 60 games or fewer will make him a more effective player.

Djoos and Bowey are 24 and 23 respectively and, while both are ready for bigger roles, both are far from finished products. While they may be part of the future of Washington’s blue line, putting in two young, second-year players as their own pair is a risk.

But even if head coach Todd Reirden is not ready to turn the reins over to his two young defensemen just yet, he still needs to get both players plenty of playing time.

This is why Orpik may get a lot more playing time than many people think. The best thing for both Djoos and Bowey is for them to play. If you have concerns about them playing together, however, and neither is ready to supplant anyone in the top four, then you are going to see them cycle in and out of the lineup fairly frequently to play alongside Orpik.

That’s not to say we will never see a Djoos-Bowey pairing this season. They will probably have their chances and the better they look, the longer that pair will last. If they were ready, it would be a safe assumption that they would get the bulk of games together with Orpik serving more of a reserve role.

But a Djoos-Bowey pairing would be too vulnerable to opposing offenses at least at the start of the season and so we should expect a lot of Orpik.

While Reirden will work his defensive magic to bring Djoos-Bowey along as quickly as possible, I would anticipate Orpik-Djoos will see a majority of games this season as the team’s third defensive pairing.

Other key Caps questions: