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Caps seek replacement for Poti

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Caps seek replacement for Poti

Sudden thoughts and second thoughts as the Capitals enjoy a complete day off following a weekend split against the Bruins [4-1 loss] and Sabres [5-3 win]:

Banged up blue line: For the third time in six games the Caps had to play the majority of Sunday night’s game with just five healthy defensemen.

Defenseman Tom Poti left the game early in the second period after aggravating a back injury on a cross-check from Steve Ott.

The same thing happened on Long Island the previous weekend when John Erskine left the game in the first period with what it is believed to be a hand or wrist injury. And it happened again in Carolina on Thursday night when Tomas Kundratek injured his leg in the first period. Neither player has played since.

With Poti out, John Carlson logged a game-high 30:15 in ice time, his second-highest total of the season. Jack Hillen, playing in the second end of back-to-back games after missing nearly a year of NHL action, logged 23:03 in ice time.

“When you’re down to five D for an extended period of time those minutes are going to catch up to us,” Capitals coach Adam Oates said.

Erskine and Kundratek have not skated with the Caps since their injuries so it appears unlikely either will return to the lineup on Tuesday when the Caps visit the Penguins.

That means one of two things. The Caps will either recall another defenseman, probably Cameron Schilling, from the AHL Hershey Bears, or Green will make his return from his groin injury on Tuesday night in Pittsburgh. Green has missed 12 of the last 14 games with a groin injury that was first suffered on Feb. 27.

Quick on the draw: The Capitals won their first 10 faceoffs on Sunday and finished the game winning 64 percent of their draws.

Nicklas Backstrom won 10 of his 12 faceoffs, including a clean win in the first period that resulted in Alex Ovechkin’s 11th goal of the season at the 19-second mark.

“First of all, you have to win the faceoff,” Ovechkin said. “Guys are blocking a lot of my shots lately and I got lucky.”

The goal was the fastest in Ovechkin’s NHL career. His previous fastest was 26 seconds, courtesy of Elias Sports Bureau.

Double trouble: The two second-period goals by Jason Chimera and Marcus Johansson came 43 seconds apart, the fastest vback-to-back goals scored by the Caps this season.

Chimera’s goal snapped a 27-game goal drought. He scored a career-high 20 goals last season.

“It’s more embarrassing when you see a zero next to your goal totals for that long,” Chimera said. “I’m not that kind of player. I should have a lot more.”

Floats like a butterfly: Mike Ribeiro joked that after his Saturday afternoon fight with Boston’s Brad Marchand, the first fighting major of his NHL career, he may be feared around the rest of the NHL.

“I thought they were afraid of me before that Boston game,” he said. “I was like [Floyd] Mayweather.”

Mayweather has a career record of 43-0 with eight world titles in five different weight classes. Ribeiro, who stands 6-foot and weighs 177 with soaking wet full hockey gear, is off to an 0-1 start to his fighting career. 

“I dropped the gloves a few times, but that’s when the [enforcers] come in and take over. [Marchand] kind of jumped me a little it and I had no choice but to drop them. It was fun to get a fight. He couldn’t reach me with those short arms.” 

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: A trip to the Stanley Cup Final is on the line

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USA TODAY Sports

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: A trip to the Stanley Cup Final is on the line

The Eastern Conference Final is going the distance!

After losing three straight to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Capitals won Game 6 to force a Game 7 in Tampa Bay. Can the Caps beat the Lightning one more time and advance to the Stanley Cup Final?

JJ Regan, Tarik El-Bashir and special guest cameraman Mike D break it all down.

 

PLEASE NOTE: Due to schedule and time constraints, this podcast was recorded by phone and the audio quality is not up to our usual standards.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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Caps push Lightning around in Game 6 with physical game plan

Caps push Lightning around in Game 6 with physical game plan

As the NHL continues to focus more on speed and skill, the Capitals took a very old-school approach to Game 6 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. From the moment the puck dropped until the clock hit zero, it was clear Washington came into Monday with a very physical game plan.

"It made a big difference," T.J. Oshie said. "I think in these games, everyone’s bringing energy and you kind of want to control that and direct it towards some positive play, some momentum building for your team, and tonight I think we handled that and did that pretty well."

"We just wanted to throw everything we had at them," Stephenson said. "It was a do or die game and we don't want our season to end."

It worked.

The scoresheet officially credited the Caps with 39 hits for the game. The Lightning had only 19. The physical play seemed to wear down Tampa Bay as the game went on.

After an even first period, Washington took a 1-0 lead in the second. Then, very fittingly, a physical fourth line extended that lead to 2-0 in the third to finish the Lightning off.

"All of a sudden now we turn a puck over, you’re back in your end, they’re feeling it, they’re being physical, crowd’s behind them and we’re spending way too much time in our D zone," Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper said. "That’s what hurt us."

What made it so effective was the fact that the entire team bought into it. Alex Ovechkin was certainly the most noticeable player as he threw himself around like a wrecking ball against everyone wearing a white jersey. But it was not just his line. Tom Wilson and Brooks Orpik each led the team with six hits, Devante Smith-Pelly recorded five of his own while Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom both had four.

The Lightning faced a constant barrage from the Caps from every line and defensive pair. There was no respite.

The hits also gave the fans plenty to cheer for.

The Caps were playing an elimination game at home and Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy was standing on his head. Even with the score locked at 0-0 through the first period, the crowd was still very much into the game. There was no apprehension, there was no quiet tension. There was just a loud crowd cheering on its team.

"[The fans] were loud right from the start, which I think we fed off of and wanted to give them something back," Brooks Orpik said. "We didn't get a goal early. I think some of the physical play kind of helped carry that. They were great for us."

Now in the third round of the playoffs after six intense games between the Caps and Lightning, the hope is that Game 6's physical play will continue to take its toll on Tampa Bay heading into Game 7.

"We need to do that every game," Nicklas Backstrom said. "That's our forecheck. Hopefully, we can keep it going here in Game 7."

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