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Capitals looking to reverse recent trend in Game 7

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Capitals looking to reverse recent trend in Game 7

Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals have made a habit of playing in Game Sevens. They have not, however, made a habit of winning them.

Since Ovechkin and the Caps returned to the Stanley Cup playoffs in 2008, seven of their nine playoff series have gone the distance.

Make this eight of 10.  

When the Caps and Islanders return to Verizon Center for Game 7 on Monday night, the Caps will be looking to reverse a disturbing trend.

Over the past seven seasons, the Caps are 2-5 in Game Sevens and 1-4 in Game Sevens at Verizon Center.

Here’s a history of the Capitals’ Game Sevens during the Alex Ovechkin era:

April 22, 2008: Flyers 3, Capitals 2, OT Game-winner: Joffrey Lupul

April 28, 2009: Capitals 2, Rangers 1, Game-winner Sergei Fedorov

May 13, 2009: Penguins 6, Capitals 2, Game-winner: Bill Guerin

April 28, 2010: Canadiens 2, Capitals 1, Game-winner: Dominic Moore

April 25, 2012: Capitals 2, Bruins 1, OT, Game-winner: Joel Ward

May 12, 2012: Rangers 2, Capitals 1, Game-winner: Michael DelZotto

May 13, 2013: Rangers 5, Capitals 0, Game-winner: Arron Asham  

MORE CAPITALS: CAPS LEAVING NEW YORK WITH EMPTY FEELING

“A lot of guys haven’t been a part of that history,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “I haven’t. It doesn’t mean anything to me, really.”

It does to many of his players, most of whom can remember the last time they were in this situation two springs ago. It came on May 13, 2013 when the Rangers thrashed them 5-0 in the seventh game of a series the Caps also led 3-2 through five games.

What, John Carlson was asked after Saturday’s loss in Uniondale, do the Caps need to differently on Monday night?

“Uh … win,” Carlson said. “Keep playing the way we are. I think we’re playing good hockey. We’ve got to have a little more killer instinct on a couple of our chances.

“We knew these games were going to be tight. Unless you get that second goal like they did in Game 1 and we did in Game 5, it’s not going to be too many blowouts at this stage of the year.”

Three of the six games in this series have been decided by one goal, with each team winning a game in overtime. The Capitals and Islanders have equally divided 28 goals in the first six games, so it seems only fitting that a series this close should go the distance.

“I think our fans are going to give us very good confidence,” Ovechkin said. “For us it’s a huge step.”

Trotz said he’d like to see the Caps’ faithful be just as influential as the Islanders’ seventh man in the three games at Nassau Coliseum.

“Our fans, hopefully, they’re revved up like the fans here,” Trotz said. “I mean, that’s great energy. No matter what, we’re not going to be back here and the fans were absolutely fantastic. 

“That’s what this building has been all about over the years. The three games here have been fantastic. We’re going to need our fans to be what the Islanders fans were. Bring it. Help us along and help us through Game 7.”

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D.C. artist turns her love for the Washington Capitals into works of art

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D.C. artist turns her love for the Washington Capitals into works of art

Local artist Taylor Kampa has taken her love for the Washington Capitals and turned it into works of art. 

You can find paintings done by Kampa of Alex Ovechkin, Tom Wilson, Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie, John Carlson and Braden Holtby on display at Circa Chinatown – a restaurant neighboring Capital One Arena – along with other D.C. celebrities.

A professional artist for the last decade, Kampa told NHL.com that the pictures were "passion projects," and took about eight hours to finish. She became a fan of the Caps after she began dating her now-husband back in 2009.

Her work has even caught the eye of The Great Eight. After posting a video to Instagram of her painting Ovechkin hoisting the Stanley Cup, the Conn Smythe Trophy winner liked and commented on it. 

"I almost died," Kampa said.

"It has been amazing sharing something that I am excited about that resonates with the people in my city," Kampa said. "I've been painting these portraits for a long time, so it's awesome to have them seen by so many people."

Kampa will also create paintings for the Capitals foundation's annual Casino Night fundraiser next year. 

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Key Caps questions: Who will play center on the fourth line?

Key Caps questions: Who will play center on the fourth line?

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: Who will be the team's primary fourth line center?

With the departure of Jay Beagle, there is a spot open at center on the fourth line. There appears on the roster to be three clear candidates to fill that position: Chandler Stephenson, Travis Boyd and Nic Dowd.

To find out why you should cross Stephenson’s name off the list, you should read yesterday's Key Caps Question about whether or not Stephenson is a wing or a center. To summarize, Washington sees Stephenson as more of a wing which explains why they both re-signed Boyd and brought in Dowd.

So who will it be between those two?

Both players seem to fit the mold as effective centers in the AHL where they were both productive. Dowd has an edge in NHL experience with 131 NHL games as compared to Boyd’s eight.

But Barry Trotz clearly had faith in Boyd at center which is why we saw him fill in on the top line on March 18 in Philadelphia. Boyd rewarded that faith with a spin pass to Alex Ovechkin for an assist, his first career point.

Trotz is now gone and Todd Reirden is in charge, but there is at least a level of familiarity there with the coaching staff and Boyd, more so than with Dowd who is new to the organization.

Second, the Caps may have tipped their hand a bit when you compare the two contracts. Center is an important position and Brian MacLellan has frequently referenced the team’s strength in center depth as a major reason for their Cup run.

Both Boyd and Dowd were signed over the offseason. Both contracts are one-way, suggesting both will be in the NHL, but Boyd’s cap hit is $800,000 while Dowd’s is $650,000. Of course, that will not matter when the players get on the ice. If Dowd outplays Boyd, he will start over him. Plus, the market ultimately dictates price. Even if the Caps wanted Dowd for their top line, if you can get him for $650k, you sign him for $650k.

Considering how important a position center is, however, even on the fourth line, it seems telling that the team was willing to give Boyd, a player with eight games of experience to his name, $800k while Dowd was signed for the minimum. That seems to suggest the Caps at least foresee Boyd having a bigger role which, for two players penciled in for the fourth line, would mean playing him at center.

Other key Caps questions: