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Capitals excited by Russian goalie prospect


Capitals excited by Russian goalie prospect

The Capitals turned some heads at the NHL draft last month when they took Russian goaltending prospect Sergey Kostenko with their final pick of the seventh round.

When it was announced the Capitals selected Kostenko with the 203rd overall pick, the collective response on the floor of the Consol Energy Center was, Whos he?

The answer may come in the next few years.

According to a report in Russias Sport-Express and detailed here, Kostenko has voided his contract with Metallurg Novokuznetsk of the Russian Junior League, paving the way for a possible entry-level contract with the Capitals.

Kostenko, 19, was first noticed by Caps goaltending coach Dave Prior a few years ago during a tournament on Prince Edward Island. At the time, Kostenko was too young to be drafted but he left a positive impression on Prior.

Kostenko served as a backup for his Russian team last season, recording a 3.41 GAA and .884 save percentage in 19 games. Prior said he hadnt forgotten about Kostenko and when he saw the 5-foot-11, 187-pound netminder play well in the Canada-Russia Challenge last season he made a mental note of it for the upcoming 2012 draft.

By many NHL teams standards hes probably too small and so he was available, Prior said. At that position in the draft he was worth the risk in my mind and in Caps director of scouting Ross Mahoneys mind. So we took the chance.

Before they selected Kostenko the Caps asked him, through director of media relations Sergey Kocharov, if he was interested in playing in North America and were assured he was.
The Caps called me the day before the draft, so they sort of gave me a hint, Kostenko said through Russian interpreter Igor Kleyner, but it was still a surprise.

Through some frantic work by the Capitals administrative offices, Kostenko was provided a visa and attended the final few days of the teams development camp two weeks ago. It marked the first time Prior had seen Kostenko since that Canada-Russia Challenge and he was impressed by his athleticism.

Hes very quick, very mobile and competitive, Prior said. When the game was going in the wrong direction, I didnt see any change in his game. There was still compete. Hes a goaltender that is typical of what I like in Washington Capitals goaltenders.

Kostenko hails from the same hometown as Capitals rookie defenseman Dmitry Orlov and Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky and played three seasons in Russia with Caps forward prospect Stanislav Galiev.

Hes a good goalie, Galiev said. Hes quiet, shy. He doesnt speak English, so it must be hard for him, but Im doing my job translating. Its a different rink, more shots and more North American style. Im petty sure Olie Kolzig is going to help him a lot.

If the Caps sign Kostenko to a pro contract he likely would begin his career sixth on the teams depth chart, behind Braden Holtby, Michal Neuvirth, Dany Sabourin, Philipp Grubauer and prospect Brandon Anderson.

In that case, Kostenko would likely start next season as a backup to Anderson with the Reading Royals of the East Coast League.

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Alex Ovechkin scored the goal that sent the Capitals to the Stanley Cup Final

Alex Ovechkin scored the goal that sent the Capitals to the Stanley Cup Final

On June 4, 1998, Joe Juneau scored the biggest goal in the history of the Washington Capitals.

In Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final, Juneau attacked the crease and shot in a rebound past a helpless Dominik Hasek in overtime to defeat the Buffalo Sabres and win the Eastern Conference.

That goal sent the Capitals to its first and, before 2018, only Stanley Cup Final.

Alex Ovechkin’s name was already etched in the history books for the Capitals several times over, but on Wednesday he added it again with the biggest goal of his career. His goal in Game 7 stood as the game-winner meaning it was the goal that sent the Capitals to their second Cup Final.

You can watch it here:

It did not come in overtime and was not quite as dramatic as Juneau’s. In fact, no one knew the significance of the goal at the time. It came just 62 seconds into the contest. It was a significant goal, but no one realized right away that it would be an historic one.

How fitting is it that Ovechkin scored the game-winner? Ovechkin who this team was built around, who reignited the franchise and built Washington into a hockey city. After all the criticism over the years, all the talk about how he can’t win, all talk about how the team should take away the C and all the talk about how the Caps should trade him and start over, this goal was not just a moment of history, but one of vindication.

When we look back on Ovechkin’s career, at all the individual awards and accomplishments, this one single goal will stand above the rest. This was the biggest game of his career and he scored the biggest goal of his career just 62 seconds in.

There’s one way he can top that: lead the Caps past Vegas for their first Stanley Cup.


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D.C. fans take to the streets to celebrate after Caps beat Bolts

D.C. fans take to the streets to celebrate after Caps beat Bolts

With their 4-0 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning to advance to the Stanley Cup Final, the Capitals did something they haven't done in 20 years. It's only their second time going to the Final in team history.

Not only is it the first time in 20 years the Caps have made it to the Stanley Cup Final, it's the first time in 20 years that ANY D.C. team has reached a championship round. After being disappointed by their teams in the playoffs year in and year out, D.C. fans were ready to celebrate their city changing the narrative. F Street outside Capital One Arena was packed with fans cheering, celebrating and chanting "We want Vegas."

If you thought the National Portrait Gallery steps were packed after the Caps beat the Penguins, that was nothing compared to Wednesday night.

Caps fans were even representing outside Amalie Arena in Tampa, cheering on the Caps as they left to return home. 

National sports pundits have criticized the D.C. fanbase in the past for not being passionate enough. Michael Wilbon recently said the nation's capital is a 'minor league sports town.' Does this reaction say minor league sports town to you? I don't think so. D.C. fans are the real deal, and they're ready for the Caps to be in the Stanley Cup Final.


Caps headed to Cup: First Cup Final in 20 years
Wilson throws hands: Is not to be messed with
Ovi and the Cup: 13 years in the making