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Capitals fall to Rangers in Game 7 OT

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Capitals fall to Rangers in Game 7 OT

Instant analysis of the Capitals’ 2-1 loss to the New York Rangers in the seventh and deciding game of the Eastern Conference Semifinals Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden:

How it happened: Eric Fehr lost a faceoff to Derek Stepan and after Braden Holtby made a split save on a Dan Girardi slapper from the point, the rebound kicked out to Stepan, who snapped it into the top half of the net for the game-winner with 8:36 remaining in overtime.

What it means: The Capitals failed in their bid to reach the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 1998. They also fell to 3-6 in Game 7s in the Alex  Ovechkin playoff era, which began in 2008 with a Game 7 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. They fell to 2-3 in Game 7s decided in overtime. The Rangers will face the Tampa Bay Lightning in the conference finals.

Curtain call? Wednesday night’s loss may have been the final game in a Caps jersey for unrestricted free agents Mike Green, Joel Ward, Jay Beagle, Eric Fehr and Tim Gleason. All are set to go to free agency on July 1. Of that group, Beagle and Fehr appear to be the most likely to return next season, followed by Ward, Gleason and Green. Curtis Glencross, who the Capitals acquired from Calgary for a second- and third-round pick in the 2015 NHL draft, also will become a free agent. He was a healthy scratch in four of the Caps’ 14 playoff games.

MORE CAPITALS: LIVE REACTION FROM WASHINGTON'S GAME 7 LOSS

Self-fulfilled prophecy: Ovechkin’s first-period goal was a thing of beauty, but he didn’t do it on his own. Nicklas Backstrom won an offensive zone faceoff and Marcus Johansson scooped up a loose puck and flipped a backhand pass over the sticks of both Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh to find Ovechkin streaking through the slot. Ovechkin took full advantage, snapping a wrister into the top right corner of the net. It was his fifth goal of the playoffs and 36th career playoff goal.

But that wasn’t all Ovechkin did in that first period. He drilled both McDonagh and Girardi on his first few shifts, letting everyone in the building know that he was in Game 7 to win it.

How Rangers tied it: Caps defenseman Mike Green gave the Rangers their fourth power play of the night when he cross-checked Dan Girardi into he boards and New York finally capitalized when J.T. Miller found Kevin Hayes all alone in the left circle for a tap-in. The goal was Hayes’ second of the playoffs and came with 6:22 gone in the second period.

Save of the night: It’s hard to come up with a bigger save than the one Braden Holtby made with 2:17 remaining in the opening period when he closed the pads to stop Rick Nash on a shorthanded breakaway. Nash, who has one goal in the series, went to his backhand but Holtby patiently waited him out for the save.

Hit of the night: With 10:27 remaining in the third period, Caps defenseman Brooks Orpik annihilated Rangers defenseman Dan Boyle with a stiff shoulder to the head. Boyle tried to get to his feet and fell, then tried again and fell. He was helped to the dressing room and did not return

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Capitals vs. Lightning Game 6 Eastern Conference Final 2018: Date, Time, How to Watch, live stream

Capitals vs. Lightning Game 6 Eastern Conference Final 2018: Date, Time, How to Watch, live stream

When the Capitals take the ice in Game 6, they will be playing for their playoff lives. After losing Game 5 on Saturday to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Caps must win on Monday or their season will be over.

In order to do that, the Caps will have to change some things. First, they have to figure out how to win at home, something they have yet to do in this series. Second, they will have to find a way to get to Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy who has been dominant the past three games. Alex Ovechkin also needs to win the matchup against the fourth line since he has only two five-on-five points through five games. Finally, the defense will have to be better. Matt Niskanen took the blame for Game 5, but really it was a tough night all around.

Also, a few penalty calls against Tampa Bay would be nice too.

Where: Capital One Arena

When: 8:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Lightning, Game 6 will be broadcast on NBCSN

Live Stream: You can watch Capitals-Lightning Game 6 on NBC Sports' live stream page.

WHEN IS GAME 6 OF THE CAPITALS vs. LIGHTNING PLAYOFF SERIES?

Game 6 of the Capitals vs. Lightning 2018 NHL Playoff series takes place on Monday, May 21 at 8:00 p.m. at Capital One Arnea.

WHAT CHANNEL IS GAME 6 OF CAPITALS vs. LIGHTNING ON?

The TV broadcast of Game 6 between the Capitals and Lightning is on NBCSN. Capitals pre- and postgame coverage takes place on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:30 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
7:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
8:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Lightning Game 6 on NBCSN
10:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
11:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime

WHERE CAN I STREAM GAME 6 OF THE CAPITALS vs. LIGHTNING SERIES?

Game 6 between the Capitals and Lightning is available to stream online on Monday, May 21 live here through the NBC Sports live stream page.

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR GAME 6 OF CAPITALS vs. LIGHTNING?

Capitals projected lines:

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

Michal Kempny - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Christian Djoos

Braden Holtby with Philipp Grubauer as backup.

Lightning projected lines:

Ondrej Palat - Steven Stamkos - Nikita Kucherov
Tyler Johnson - Brayden Point - Yanni Gourde
Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - J.T. Miller
Chris Kunitz - Cedric Paquette - Ryan Callahan

Victor Hedman - Dan Girardi
Ryan McDonagh - Anton Stralman
Braydon Coburn - Mikhail Sergachev

Andrei Vasilevskiy starts with Louis Domingue as backup.

CAPITALS vs. LIGHTNING GAME 6 OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

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George McPhee's Vegas Golden Knights advance to Stanley Cup Final

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USA TODAY Sports

George McPhee's Vegas Golden Knights advance to Stanley Cup Final

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Ryan Reaves scored the winning goal, Marc-Andre Fleury made 31 saves and the Vegas Golden Knights pushed their remarkable expansion season into the Stanley Cup Final, beating the Winnipeg Jets 2-1 on Sunday in Game 5 of the Western Conference final.

Alex Tuch also scored for the Knights. They lost Game 1 in Winnipeg before winning four straight to become the first expansion team since the 1968 St. Louis Blues -- when the six initial expansion teams were put alone in the West -- to get to the final.

Vegas will meet the Tampa Bay Lightning or the Washington Capitals in the final. Tampa Bay leads the Eastern Conference final 3-2, with Game 6 set for Monday night in Washington.

Josh Morrissey scored for the Jets, and Connor Hellebuyck made 30 saves.

Reaves, the bruising Winnipeg native acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins before to the trade deadline in February, snapped a 1-1 tie with 6:39 left in the second period when he tipped Luca Sbisa's point shot past Hellebuyck for his first goal of the playoffs.

Winnipeg got a power play early in the third, but couldn't muster much of anything. The Knights smothered much of the Jets' attack for the next 10 minutes, with Hellebuyck having to come up with big stops on William Karlsson and Eric Haula to keep his team within one.

The Jets pressed with under 4 minutes to go, with Fleury stopping captain Blake Wheeler on the doorstep, but it wasn't nearly enough as the Knights closed out their third straight series on the road.

The Jets beat the Knights 4-2 in Game 1, but Vegas snatched home ice with a 3-1 victory in Game 2 before picking up 4-2 and 3-2 wins at T-Mobile Arena.

The Knights, whose jaw-dropping inaugural 109-point campaign included a Pacific Division crown, swept the Los Angeles Kings in the first round, and knocked out the San Jose Sharks in six games.

The Jets had the NHL's second-best record with 114 points in the regular season. They advanced to the first conference final in city's history with a five-game victory over the Minnesota Wild in the opening round before topping the Presidents' Trophy-winning Nashville Predators in Game 7 on the road.

The usual raucous, white-clad crowd at Bell MTS Place -- not to mention the thousands of fans outside the arena attending a street party on a sun-drenched spring afternoon -- were silenced just 5:11 into Game 5 when Tuch jumped on Morrissey's turnover and fired his sixth past Hellebuyck.

The Jets were tentative to start and it got worse after the opener as Vegas dominated the next couple of shifts, forcing some good saves from Hellebuyck before Winnipeg got its feet moving.

After being outshot 7-1 in the first 7 minutes, the Jets finally pushed back and turned the tide with the next nine attempts on goal, culminating with Morrissey making amends for his early gaffe with 2:46 left in the period.

Bryan Little won a faceoff in the offensive zone straight back to second-year defenseman, who blasted his first career playoff goal past Fleury's glove.

One of Winnipeg's downfalls in the series through four games was an inability to maintain momentum. The Knights scored within 1:28 of a Jets' goal in each of the first four games -- a crushing 12 seconds after Winnipeg tied Game 3, and an equally gut-wrenching 43 seconds after the Jets knotted Game 4 -- but they managed to take the game to the locker rooms tied 1-1.

Both teams had chances in the second period before Reaves made it 2-1, with Jets center Mathieu Perrault just missing on a pass from Little that had too much speed.

Right after Reaves scored the second playoff goal of his career -- and first since 2015 with St. Louis -- Winnipeg's Nikolaj Ehlers rang a shot off the post on Fleury.

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