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Former Caps prospect gets first NHL start for St. Louis Blues thanks to Caps

Former Caps prospect gets first NHL start for St. Louis Blues thanks to Caps

The Washington Capitals gave Pheonix Copley his first NHL contract and now they have given him his first NHL start too, albeit indirectly.

A former Capitals prospect, Copley was part of the package the Caps sent to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for T.J. Oshie.

He made his brief NHL debut on Feb. 27, 2016 in a relief performance. After getting recalled from the Blues' AHL affiliate on Friday, he made his first NHL start for the Blues on Saturday against the Winnipeg Jets.

And he has the Caps to thank.

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The Blues' goalie situation has been an issue all year. Jake Allen was expected to be the team's top netminder, but he has struggled all season with an .897 save percentage.

Carter Hutton is a serviceable backup, but is not good enough to carry quite the load St. Louis has needed from him this season thanks to Allen's struggles.

The sitiation finally came to a head on Thursday as Washington chased Allen twice in one game. 

Allen was pulled after Washington scored twice in the first period on just three shots. He was reinserted into the game after a 2:22 break, but was pulled again after the Caps' tallied their fourth goal of the game.

The game ended in a 7-3 blowout win for Washington and highlighted that head coach Ken Hitchcock needed to do something to fix the team's goaltending woes. His solution? Copley was recalled and started in Saturday's game in Winnipeg while Allen remains in St. Louis for the team's three-game road swing.

It may have been only a matter of time before Copley got the call up with Allen struggling in net, but it's safe to say Washington's thrashing of the Blues resulted in his first NHL start.

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Longtime Capitals fans got married at Capitals vs. Canadiens game

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USA TODAY Sports Images

Longtime Capitals fans got married at Capitals vs. Canadiens game

Longtime Capitals fans Ryn and Mark got married at the Caps game on Thursday night. They didn’t intend on getting married during the Capitals vs. Canadiens game, but when they realized the day they picked conflicted with the Caps game, they decided to just get married at the game. 

“I said ‘oh let’s just do it there!’ We wanted to take our friends to do something fun, that we all love,” Ryn told NHL.com.

The morning before the game, according to NHL.com, the happy couple spent the day doing Caps related activities. They attended Caps morning skate and wore their matching ‘bride’ and ‘groom’ Caps jerseys.

The wedding party included friends and family and Mark’s brother served as the officiant of the wedding. 

Congratulations to the newlyweds!

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Now one goal from 700, close calls from when Ovechkin was stuck on 698 loom large

Now one goal from 700, close calls from when Ovechkin was stuck on 698 loom large

When Alex Ovechkin scored a hat trick in six minutes against the Los Angeles Kings to pull him to within two goals of 700, it felt like the milestone would soon follow.

Instead, Ovechkin finally scored goal No. 699 on Thursday against the Montreal Canadiens snapping a five-game goal drought, his longest of the season. During that stretch, it is easy to think that perhaps the pressure was getting to him.

When you look back at the games and all the near misses, however, you begin to realize that Thursday’s goal could very easily have been No. 700 if not for some spectacular saves and bad luck.

Here are all the near misses Ovechkin suffered from 698 to 699 that slowed Ovechkin's quick march through history.

The butt deflection: On Feb. 10, just two games after his hat trick against the Kings, it looked like Ovechkin had scored No. 699 against the New York Islanders. Ovechkin parked himself in front of goalie Thomas Greiss and defenseman Johnny Boychuk tried to muscle him out from in front of the net. John Carlson fired the puck right as Boychuk engaged Ovechkin which hit the mass of bodies in front and deflected past Greiss. Everyone thought the puck had deflected off Ovechkin's butt and was No. 699, at least initially. The Islanders’ game broadcast called it Ovechkin’s goal and It even looked as if Ovechkin may have thought it was his as he gave an emphatic fist bump in the air. The replay, however, showed that the puck never touched him and deflected off of Boychuk.

The moments between when the goal was scored and when it was announced as Carlson was one full to trepidation. What happened if Ovechkin scored again before the first goal was announced? Would no one know if it was 700? What if he scored 700 and the first one was called back? Luckily none of that happened. The goal belonged to Carlson and Ovechkin remained at 698.

The Boyd-Ovechkin connection: Travis Boyd seems to have some chemistry with Ovechkin. Boyd has 31 career NHL points with eight goals and 23 assists. Two of those eight goals came on assists from Ovechkin and three of Boyd’s assists have been on Ovechkin goals. The two almost connected again in Colorado on Feb. 13. Boyd came hard on a forecheck and collected the puck behind the offensive goal line. He drew two Colorado defenders to him leaving Ovechkin open in front of the net. Normally, an automatic goal for the Great 8, Ovechkin stood poised for the wrist shot, but went forehand to backhand to try to fool Philipp Grubauer. It worked. Grubauer went to the butterfly, but tried a desperate poke check as Ovechkin deked around him and just managed to get a stick to the puck, knocking it over the net.

Raanta robs Ovechkin: By the time Saturday’s game against the Arizona Coyotes rolled around, you could tell Ovechkin was done waiting. With an early power play opportunity, Ovechkin fired a one-timer from the office that Coyotes goalie Antti Raanta was able to stop with the pad. Later on the same power play, Ovechkin crashed the net and battled Raanta for a loose puck that Raanta somehow managed to keep out of the net. Ovechkin finished the night with 16 total shot attempts and eight shots on goal, but no goals as Raanta stood on his head to deny him.

A lucky bounce: Ovechkin fired another four shots on goal Monday against the Vegas Golden Knights, but his best opportunity came off a bizarre bounce that Marc-Andre Fleury lost sight of. Tom Wilson flung the puck toward the net and missed. It bounced off the boards and back out to a waiting Ovechkin. Fleury had come off his post presumably thinking the puck was headed around the other side of the net, but quickly recovered and stuck out his pad just in time as Ovechkin began digging for it. Somehow Ovechkin was not able to push it through Fleury’s big golden pad and his goal drought extended to five games.

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