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Caps show grit in comeback victory over Red Wings

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Caps show grit in comeback victory over Red Wings

There is something different about these Capitals. Something special, perhaps.

Head coach Barry Trotz senses it, and so do the players’ fathers who watched their sons pull out a hard-earned 3-2 shootout win over the Detroit Red Wings Tuesday night at Verizon Center, improving their record to 7-0 this season following losses.

“When I first got here, I always thought there was a lot of panic,” Trotz said of his arrival in Washington 15 months ago. “(Now) in close games we’re OK with that. Guys have grown into that.

“… You talk about trying to learn killer instinct. I think we’ve learned that. It shows in our record down after two periods.”

The Caps are now 3-2-1 when trailing after two periods. They’re also 12-0-0 when leading after two periods and have outscored their opponents 79-55 in the third period this season.

“Our will to win is high,” said Capitals right wing Justin Williams, who scored his eighth goal of the season and 600th NHL point just 43 seconds into the game.

“You keep coming back in these games, even though it’s early December, they mean something. You can reflect on these. Later in the season you can say, ‘We’ve done this many times’ and actually mean it.  These are big comeback points.”

And they came because of a beastly third period from their 30-year-old captain.

Trailing 2-1 after 40 minutes despite outshooting the Red Wings 28-15, the Capitals kept on bringing it in the third period, led by Ovechkin, who entered the third period with no goals on 25 shots against the Red Wings this season.

Ovechkin drew a pair of penalties on back-to-back shifts, then crashed the net for a game-tying power-play goal with 9:09 remaining in regulation to send the crowd into a frenzy and the game into overtime.

But before the Caps could get to the extra period, defenseman John Carlson laid out to block a cannon shot by Tomas Tatar.

“It meant a lot to our group,” Trotz said. “The players recognize that and he got our little reward for that. They recognized that was a crucial block at a crucial time.”

Both teams had a chance to win the game with a power play in overtime, but the Caps’ sextet of penalty killers – Karl Alzner, Matt Niskanen, Jay Beagle, John Carlson, Nate Schmidt and Brooks Laich – shut down the Red Wings on their 4-on-3 advantage despite a pair of near misses from Mike Green, and Jimmy Howard held his ground on a power-play blast by Alex Ovechkin.

That sent the game into a skills competition. T.J. Oshie beat Howard with a wicked snap shot and Evgeny Kuznetsov followed with a strong backhand-to-forehand move that left Howard out of position.

At the other end of the rink Braden Holtby was perfect on attempts by Gustav Nyqvist and Pavel Datsyuk to improve to 2-0 in shootouts this season.

“It’s great having Kuzy follow me,” Oshie said. “I don’t know who’s next, but we have a couple more guys that can get in there and make some nice moves.

“There’s definitely a sense of confidence that if I’m not able to get the job done we’re going to get at least one on the board with Kuzy going after me. That takes a little pressure off.”    

[RELATED: Green talks fond memories in first trip to Washington]

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2018 NHL Draft: Caps add 7 prospects, 4 from WHL

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2018 NHL Draft: Caps add 7 prospects, 4 from WHL

The Caps selected seven players in the 2018 Draft.

Meet the newest additions to Washington's system:

1st round, 31st overall: D Alexander Alexeyev, WHL, 6'4", 196 pounds

The Caps' first first-round pick sine 2016, Alexeyev is a smart two-way defenseman with good size.

Read more on him here.

2nd round, 46th overall (from Florida, via New Jersey): D Martin Fehervary, Allsvenskan (Sweden), 6'2", 194 pounds

A physical style defenseman who is very strong in his own end, but does not have much offensive upside. Sort of a throwback style of play which makes him a surprise pick this high.


2nd round, 47th overall (From Colorado): F Kody Clark, OHL, 6'1", 179 pounds

Kody Clark boasts an NHL pedigree as the son of Wendel Clark, a first-round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs who recorded 330 goals and 564 career points in 763 NHL games.


3rd round, 93rd overall: F Riley Sutter, WHL, 6'3", 203 pounds

Riley Sutter also boasts a strong NHL pedigree as the son of Run Sutter and nephew of Darryl Sutter.

Riley is a power forward who played alongside Caps prospect Garrett Pilon on the Everett Silvertips in the WHL and recorded 53 points in 68 games last season.


4th round, 124th overall: G Mitchell Gibson, NAHL, 6'1", 187 pounds

A Harvard commit, Gibson posted a 1.59 GAA and .935 save percentage in the NAHL last season.


6th round, 161st overall (from Vancouver): D Alex Kannok-Leipert, WHL, 5'11", 194 pounds

The Caps certainly saw something they liked in Kannok-Leipert as they traded up from 186 to get him. That pick, along with a sixth-round pick in 2019, went to Vancouver.


7th round, 217th overall: F Eric Florchuk, WHL, 6'2", 174 pounds

Florchuk was taken with the last pick of the draft.

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GM Brian MacLellan: Capitals are close to re-signing John Carlson

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GM Brian MacLellan: Capitals are close to re-signing John Carlson

DALLAS—The Caps are “really close” to signing star defenseman John Carlson to a long-term extension, GM Brian MacLellan said Friday night.

“We’re getting closer,” MacLellan said following the first round of the NHL Draft. “Hopefully we can get it done here over the next few days. We’re really close.”

Earlier in the day, the Caps cleared significant space under the salary cap ceiling by trading Philipp Grubauer and Brooks Orpik to Colorado for a second round draft pick (47th overall). 

That space will now be used to lock up Carlson, who could become the best defenseman on the open market if he were to reach it.

MacLellan met with Carlson’s agent, Rick Curran, here on Thursday night.

MacLellan did not divulge any figures, but it’s expected that Carlson’s new contract could come in at eight years and $8 million per—or perhaps a bit more. 

He earned $4 million last season.

Carlson had a career year in 2017-18 and was critical during the Caps' run to the Stanley Cup. He led all defensemen in the regular season with 68 points (15 goals, 53 assists). The 28-year-old also skated a career-high 24:47 per game.

MacLellan has long said that re-signing Carlson was the Caps’ top priority this offseason. And now it looks like that could happen within days, assuming the talks do not hit any snags.

“We’re going to do our best to sign John,” MacLellan said. “We’ve said it all along. We waited until the end of the year. We’ve had discussions. We’re close and hopefully we can close the deal here over the next 24 hours.”

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