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Caps tie up series with Rangers 2-2

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Caps tie up series with Rangers 2-2

From the day he stepped behind the bench as Capitals coach Dale Hunter has established clear and defined roles for his players.

The scorers would score, the shot blockers would eat rubber and the goaltender would make the timely saves.

Of course, it doesnt always work that way in the Stanley Cup playoffs, but on Saturday it did.

Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green took care of the offense; Matt Hendricks, Jay Beagle, Joel Ward, Brooks Laich, Karl Alzner and John Carlson swarmed the Rangers shooters; and Braden Holtby stopped all seven shots he faced in the third period to lead the Capitals to a thrilling 3-2 win inside a rocking Verizon Center Saturday afternoon.

Greens power-play goal with 5:48 remaining in the third period stood up as the game winner, sending the best-of-seven series back to New York knotted at 2-2. Game 5 is slated for Monday night at Madison Square Garden.

Its one of those pivotal games that I think changes the whole look of the series, Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner said. If they had gone up 3-1 it would have been extremely tough. It was as close to a must-win as you can get.

Greens goal came 27 seconds after Carl Hagelin took a slashing penalty on Capitals defenseman John Carlson. Hagelin took a chop at Carlsons stick and Carlson dropped it.

He slashed my stick and it broke, Carlson said. We made them pay with that one. It feels good.

On the man-advantage, Green took a cross-ice pass from Dennis Wideman and had plenty of time to wind up and fire a low shot from the top of the right circle past Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh and through goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who said he was also screened on Backtsroms second-period goal

I didnt see the puck so I was pretty much just guessing where it was going, Lundqvist said. Its unfortunate, but I move on.

Greens goal was his second of the playoffs. He netted just three in the regular season.

Its good to know I can still score, said Green, who leaped into the glass as the sellout crowd rocked the Red. Its good to get the win, bottom line, whether it was me or someone else.

Holtby made the one-goal lead stand up and finished with 18 saves on 20 shots. He also benefitted from the Capitals blocking 26 shots, led by defenseman Jeff Schultz, who had nine.

There were a lot of red spiders in front of me, that was a good thing, Holtby said, noting last-minute blocks by Henderson and Ward. We read their plan of what they wanted to do and our forwards really executed.

With two days off after their triple overtime marathon in Game 3, both teams seemed to have plenty of jump in Game 4. The Capitals took a pair of one-goal leads in the first two periods, only to see the Rangers come back to tie each time.

While Ovechkin and Backstrom scored for the Capitals, Artem Anisimov and Marian Gaborik scored for the Rangers.

Lundqvist dominated the first 10 minutes of play, robbing Ovechkin of a goal with a nifty glove save. The Capitals strategy of shooting high on Lundqvist paid off later in the first period when a giveaway by Rangers rookie Chris Kreider gave Ovechkin a clear path to the net.

Ovechkin snapped a shot off Lundqvists left shoulder and into the top right corner of the net for his second goal of the series and fourth of the playoffs at the 12:43 mark. The goal was Ovechkins 29th career playoff goal, moving him within one of Peter Bondra for the most in Capitals history.

The Rangers answered 70 seconds into the second period when Anisimov, who was harshly reprimanded on the bench by coach John Tortorella in the first period, scored his second goal of the playoffs to tie the score.

Anisimov was left alone on the doorstep and when Dan Girardis shot kicked off the skates of Capitals center Brooks Laich, Anusimov was there to lift it over Holtby.

The Capitals again took a one-goal lead at the 11:54 mark when Backstrom shouldered Ansimov to the ice, then ripped a Jason Chimera pass high over Lundqvists right shoulder for his first goal of the series and second of the playoffs.

The Capitals looked like they might carry that 2-1 lead into the third period, but Anisimov beat Capitals defenseman Dennis Wideman to the puck to wave off an icing, then fed the puck to Gaborik for a goal almost identical to the one he scored in triple overtime of Game 3.

The guy was calling icing, Holtby said. I had my hand up and I guess the linesman behind the play waved it off. It confused me and Wides on the play and they scored a goal.

With the win the Capitals are now 3-0 following overtime losses during the playoffs. Holtby has now gone 27 straight starts in the NHL including 11 in the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs without suffering back-to-back setbacks. Holtby has gone 5-0 following a loss during these playoffs.

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

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USA TODAY Sports

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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Capitals go to the WHL again, select defenseman Alex Alexeyev with first-round pick

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Capitals go to the WHL again, select defenseman Alex Alexeyev with first-round pick

The last time the Washington Capitals had a first-round draft pick, they selected a WHL defenseman. They did not go off script on Friday.

With the last pick of the first round, selecting for the first time as defending Stanley Cup champions, the Capitals selected Alexander Alexeyev, a left-shooting, two-way defenseman from St. Petersburg.

Alexeyev, 18, certainly boasts NHL size at 6' 4", 196 pounds. He currently plays for Red Deer in the WHL, a junior league that has become a major pipeline for the Capitals. In his second season with Red Deer, he tallied 37 points in 45 games.

The NHL Central Scouting's rankings list Alexeyev as the 22nd best North American skater of the draft. TSN projects him to be a top-four, two-way defenseman.

Analyst Craig Button described Alexeyev as a "Smart, effective defenceman who moves the puck, plays with a calm and doesn't make things complicated for himself."

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