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Caps All-Stars help lead East to win in Skills Challenge


Caps All-Stars help lead East to win in Skills Challenge

In a prelude to Sunday's All-Star tournament, the NHL All-Stars took to the ice on Saturday night for the Skills Competition with the Eastern Conference earning the 29-12 win over the West.

Though he often plays like has ice water in his veins, Evgeny Kuznetsov looked like he was dealing with nerves early in the night. On his first attempt in the breakaway challenge, he tried to lift the puck to juggle but could not keep it on his stick and instead improvised with some smooth stick handling before flipping the puck to Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne who made the easy save.

On his second attempt, Kuznetsov paid tribute to Alex Ovechkin's appearance in 2009 as he donned a cowboy hat and glasses. Kuznetsov even ditched his left-handed stick for a righty just to complete the Ovechkin image. Switching hands, however, is harder than it looks and he was not able to shoot it on net against the guitar-wielding Rinne.

Kuznetsov's nerves settled down in the skills relay where he was tasked with passing the puck into four mini-nets. After a few attempts to hit the first net, Kuznetsov proceeded to hit his next three-straight shots.

In typical fashion, Backstrom did his best work on the night with the pass. He served as a passer for the accuracy challenge, helping John Tavares win the competition with a time of 12.294 seconds. Backstrom also was the mini-net passer in the Eastern Conference's first heat. His groups time of 1:38.41 in the relay was the second-best time of the night.

Holtby made quick work of the goalie goals in the skills relay as he scored on each of his first three shots. The Caps netminder was also solid in the shootout as he turned aside eight of nine shots faced. Joe Pavelski of San Jose was the only one to beat him by tucking a shot just underneath Holtby's glove.

RELATED: Trotz supportive of John Scott

Other highlights of the night:

  • Dylan Larkin won the first event of the night as the fastest skater. He then was given a chance to break Mike Gartner's record of 13.386 which he did with a time of 13.172 despite stumbling on the last turn. In doing so, he beat a record Gartner set 20 years ago in 1996...before Larkin was born (he is 19).
  • P.K. Subban stole the show in the the breakaway challenge. After showing off some incredible juggling skills in his first shot, he did his best Jaromir Jagr impressio on his second with a Panther's jersey and mullet. Subban narrowly won the event with 31 percent of the fan vote, edging out San Jose's Brent Burns who had his son score on the first shot and then wore a Chewbacca mask on his second.
  • Shea Weber defended his hardest shot title on his home ice in Nashville. Though he was not able to match last year's 108.5 mph shot, he came close with 108.1. Though only one shot counted, Weber endd up with the three hardest shots on the night. His first attempt went for 105.3 and after some prodding from the crowd for one more shot, he took an extra shot after he had already won and still registered 107.8.
  • John Scott received a standing ovation when he took to the ice for the hardest shot competition. He registered a respectable 95.9 mph. He also attempted a spin move in the shootout that took everyone by surprise. New Jersey goalie Cory Schneider was just able to kick the pad out for the save.
  • After wining the event, the Atlantic and Metropolitan Division captains Jagr and Tavares elected to play their game first on Sunday, meaning the Caps' representatives will play at 5 p.m. The Western Conference will play at 6 p.m. with the winner of both moving on to the finals at 7 p.m.

MORE CAPITALS: Capitals Six-Pack: Will Caps make a trade before the deadline?

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5 reasons the Capitals beat the Rangers in overtime

5 reasons the Capitals beat the Rangers in overtime

The Caps gave up a 2-1 and 3-2 lead, but ultimately came away victorious on Wednesday in a 4-3 win over the New York Rangers thanks to an overtime goal from Matt Niskanen.

Here are five reasons why the Caps won.

1. Djoos saves a goal

With the Caps already trailing 1-0 in the first period, they were about an inch away from going down by two. Luckily, Christian Djoos was there to make the save.

Yes, Djoos, not Braden Holtby.

A diving Jesper Fast got to a loose puck before any of the Caps defenders and beat Holtby with the shot. Djoos, however, was there to sweep the puck off the goal line and out, saving a goal.

That play turned out to be a two-goal swing as less than two minutes later, the Caps scored to tie the game at 1.

2. Carlson off the faceoff

The Caps emphasized the importance of the faceoff this week and worked on it specifically in practice on Tuesday. That practice turned out to be very prescient as Washington’s first goal of the night came right off the faceoff.

Nicklas Backstrom beat Ryan Spooner on the draw cleanly in the offensive zone, feeding the puck back to John Carlson. With the players all bunched up off the draw, Carlson benefitted from Brady Skjei standing right in front of Henrik Lundqvist. Carlson teed up the slap shot and beat Lundqvist who never saw the puck.

Of the five combined goals scored in the game, three were directly set up off a faceoff.

3. Hand-eye coordination

With the Caps on the power play, Fast tipped a pass meant for Carlson that looked like it was headed out of the offensive zone. Carlson reacted to the puck then stretched the stick and somehow managed to control the bouncing puck and keep it in the zone.

Fast charged Carlson at the blue line so he chipped the puck to Ovechkin in the office. Ovechkin managed to hit the puck just as it hit the ice and somehow beat Lundqvist with the shot.

Ovechkin was by the boards at the very edge of the circle. It was an amazing shot and it was set up by the great hustle play from Carlson. Both showed tremendous hand-eye coordination to control that puck.

4. Braden Holtby

Lundqvist entered this game with a 1.99 GAA and .939 save percentage, but he was outplayed by his counterpart from Washington.

Holtby had himself a night. He was particularly strong down low with the pads as he made a number of key pad saves throughout the game, particularly in the second period when he recorded 17 saves including a shorthanded breakaway save on Kevin Hayes as time expired.

Of the three goals Holtby allowed, the first he made a great save on Chris Kreider who looked like he had an empty net to shoot at. Mike Zibanejad would score on the rebound. The second goal came as a shot deflected off Devante Smith-Pelly and went right to Jimmy Vesey for an easy tap-in. The third was a deflection goal from Kreider to redirect a shot that was going wide.

Can’t blame Holtby for those.

5. Working from the office

The Caps had three power play opportunities on the night. They scored on two of them and those two goals looked pretty darn similar.

There was the one described above in which a hustle play by Carlson at the point kept the puck alive and he fed to Ovechkin in the office. The second goal came with Carlson on the point feeding Ovechkin in the office.

Those two goals give Ovechkin 232 power play goals for his career, tying him with Dino Ciccarelli for ninth on the NHL’s all-time list.


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Capitals vs. Rangers: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

Capitals vs. Rangers: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

The Capitals (2-2-1) were dealt a herky-jerky schedule for the first month of the NHL season, already having logged two back-to-backs and two extended breaks.  But Washington finally gets a semblance of normalcy when they host the New York Rangers (2-4) on Wednesday night in the first of two home games before heading out west to end the month.

The Caps enter the Wednesday Night Hockey tilt with their longtime regional foes having dropped a thrilling weekend showdown against the Toronto Maple Leafs and their high-powered attack. The Rangers have long been a thorn in the side of the Capitals and fans alike. But the team that will hit the ice at Capital One Arena on Oct. 17 will be one that Capitals need to dispatch of with ease.

The team's first foray into defending a championship has been a wild ride with ceremonies, openers, rematches and a lot of time off. After dropping the first three games of the season, New York has won two of its last three,  with both games needing extra time.

Here is everything you need to know about Capitals vs. Rangers which takes place at 7:00 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network.


What: Washington Capitals vs. New York Rangers, Game 6 of the 2018-19 NHL Regular Season

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: Wednesday, October 17 at 7:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Capitals vs. Rangers will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network. (NBC Sports Washington Channel Finder)

Live Stream: Watch Capitals vs. Rangers on  the NBC Sports Washington live stream page and  the NBC Sports MyTeams App.

Radio: Caps 24/7 Radio, 106.7 The Fan FM


6:00 PM: Caps Faceoff Live
6:30 PM: Caps Pregame Live
7:00 PM: Capitals vs. Rangers on NBC Sports Network
9:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live
10:00 PM: Caps Overtime Live


Braden Holtby, G. Capitals: Holtby has started four of the Capitals' first five games. He's allowed just two goals in the Capitals' two wins, but has given up 11 in the two losses. That being said, the Rangers do not have the caliber of fire-power possessed by the Penguins and Maple Leafs. Expect a big game from "The HoltBeast."

Mats Zuccarello, Rangers: The Rangers savvy veteran leads the team in assists (5) and points (50 through the first six games. While he's not the most dangerous threat on offense, he's the table setter and crafty elder statesman. 


Number of all-time Meetings: 273

All-Time Series Record: Capitals lead series 131–117–18–7

Regular Season Record: Capitals lead series 103–90–18–7

Playoff Record: Capitals lead series 28-27

Last Meeting: Capitals beat Rangers 3-2 OT (3/28/2018)