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Hip-hip hooray - Backstrom lifts Caps over Canes

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Hip-hip hooray - Backstrom lifts Caps over Canes

Post-game analysis of the Capitals’ 4-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes Saturday night at Verizon Center:

How it happened: In his first game back after offseason hip surgery, Nicklas Backstrom set up T.J. Oshie’s power play goal in the first period, scored unassisted early in the third and set up John Carlson’ power-play goal midway through the third to lead the Caps to their third win of the season. Braden Holtby turned aside 18 shots as the Caps played one of their strongest defensive games of the season. The only goal Backstrom did not assist on came late when Alex Ovechkin blasted his third goal in three games past Cam Ward after an excellent forecheck by Evgeny Kuznetsov.

What it means: With six points, the Caps moved past the idle Flyers (4 points) and are one point behind the Islanders in the Metro Division standings.

RELATED: Trotz unwilling to break up shut-down line

Turning point: Leading 1-0 early in the second period, the Caps dug themselves a hole when back-to-back penalties to Jay Beagle (tripping) and John Carlson (slashing) put the Hurricanes on a 5-on-3 power play for 38 seconds. But excellent penalty killing by Brooks Orpik, Taylor Chorney, Karl Alzner, Matt Niskanen, Brooks Laich, T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams kept the Canes off the board.

If looks could kill: During the Caps’ second period penalty kill, Braden Holtby had his mask knocked off by Jeff Skinner when Skinner was checked into him by Alzner. With his mask on the ice, Holtby covered his face with both gloves as Carolina defenseman Justin Fault launched a slapshot just over Holtbny’;s head and into the unguarded net. Faulk’s shot came just after the whistle had blown and Holtby stared him down with a nasty glare.

Eyes in the sky: The Winnipeg Jets, Tampa Bay Lightning, Anaheim Ducks, Montreal Canadiens, Pittsburgh Penguins, Nashville Predators and Colorado Avalanche all had scouts in attendance Saturday night.

What’s next: The Caps are scheduled to practice at 11 a.m.on Sunday. They are expected to fly to Calgary on Mondaymorning to begin a three-game road trip against the Flames, Canucks and Oilers.

MORE CAPITALS: Backstrom returns as Capitals' second-line center

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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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