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Caps 'weren't good enough' to win Game 2


Caps 'weren't good enough' to win Game 2

NEW YORK -- Alex Ovechkin and Braden Holtby did everything within their power to win a hockey game on their own Saturday afternoon.

But in the Stanley Cup playoffs a two-man attack rarely equates to victories and that’s why the New York Rangers are heading to Washington with a split following their 3-2 win over the Caps in Madison Square Garden.

Ovechkin [9 hits, 11 shot attempts and one highlight-reel goal] and Holtby [32 saves] tried to will the Capitals to a win in Game 2, but despite a furious rally in the final minute the Capitals simply couldn’t recover from an early 2-0 deficit.

“They were winning all the races [to the puck] and winning all the battles,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “Once we fixed the battles we started to come. But we dug ourselves a hole.

“We weren’t good enough to win this hockey game, plain and simple. The Rangers deserved to win the hockey game. Full credit to them.”

The Capitals took three minor penalties in the opening period – one each by Karl Alzner, Joel Ward and Tom Wilson – to allow the Rangers to control the opening 2-0 minutes and carry a 2-0 lead into the first intermission. The Caps found their legs in the middle period and got goal from Evgeny Kuznetsov to draw within one, but the game ultimately was decided early in the third period.

RELATED: Ovechkin beats Lundqvist with highlight reel goal

About 15 seconds after Troy Brouwer was thwarted from the slot on a power-play chance, Rangers center Derrick Brassard busted out of the penalty box and parked himself in front of Braden Hotlby. Marty St. Louis found him with a pass through Caps center Jay Beagle and defenseman Matt Niskanen and Brassard beat Holtby between the pads for what stood up as the game-winner.

“Our sticks hit each other,” Niskanen said of himself and Beagle. “We each screwed each other up. It wasn’t that hard of a pass to intercept and we screwed each other up.”

“That third goal was a dagger,” Trotz said, “but I liked our resiliency.”

Ovechkin’s fourth goal of the playoffs on a power move through defensemen Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh breathed life back into the Capitals and drew them within 3-2 with 9:31 to play, but Henrik Lundvist withstood a furious finish to earn his fifth win of the playoffs.

Lundqvist decribed the Caps’ final 6-on-5 flurry as “mayhem.”

“It felt like they had 20 players on the ice,” Girardi said.

The mayhem included one of the Rangers escorting Joel Ward into the Rangers bench as he tried to leave the ice on a line change.

“I was trying to get to the bench and they bumped me in [to the Rangers bench],” Ward said. “I was just trying to get off the ice and I couldn’t. I didn’t want to give us a too-many-men penalty.”

Rangers coach Alain Vigneault let out a long laugh when asked about his team’s ability to close the game out.

“They were coming at us with every move they had,” he said. “Every time we were real close to getting the puck out they found a way to pull it back in. It was a tough couple of minutes.”

And now the series shifts back to D.C., where the Caps can control home ice. Each of the next three games will be played at night, something that should favor the Caps, who are 5-1 in playoff night games and 0-3 in afternoon games.

“For whatever reason afternoon games are kind of haunting us right now,” Caps right wing Jason Chimera said. “But we’ve got to take some positives out of this. We came out of here with a split and we’ll get back to work on Monday.”

MORE CAPITALS: Ovechkin beats Lundqvist with highlight reel goal

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


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

The Caps made seven selections in the 2018 Draft this weekend. The group featured three defensemen, three forwards and a goalie. Interestingly, a couple of the picks have fathers who enjoyed lengthy NHL careers.

Meet the newest prospects:

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


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.”