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How an icing call cost the Capitals Game 2

How an icing call cost the Capitals Game 2

Sixty minutes was not enough to separate the Caps and Maple Leafs on Saturday. An additional 20 minutes couldn’t do the job either. What finally proved to be the difference was a critical icing call in the second overtime period that gave Toronto the 4-3 win and tied the series at 1.

While trying to break out of the neutral zone, Evgeny Kuznetsov attempted a pass off the wall to Justin Williams that was a bit too strong and went down behind Toronto’s red line for the icing call. By rule, that meant the players on the ice for the Capitals had to remain for the next faceoff. This put the Caps at a disadvantage. First, it kept the five players on the ice on a prolonged shift, a disadvantage more pronounced given that it came in double overtime when minutes need to be carefully monitored. It also allowed Toronto to match up with the players on the ice, something they were not normally able to do off a faceoff since the home team gets the second line change. Most importantly, however, it forced a line that Barry Trotz does not typically employ in the defensive zone to stay on the ice for a defensive zone draw.

Kuznetsov has the third-lowest percentage of defensive zone faceoffs on the team with 25.8-percent, lower even than Alex Ovechkin. What that suggests is that when the Caps are taking a faceoff in the defensive zone, Trotz specifically tries to avoid putting Kuznetsov out. Part of that may be because Kuznetsov is not a two-way forward and is much stronger on the offensive end of the ice. Another more likely reason has to do with the fact that as a center, he is tasked with the responsibility of winning the faceoff.

Of Washington’s four centers, Kuznetsov had the lowest faceoff win percentage in the regular season with 44-percent. On Saturday, he won only 10 of the 28 faceoffs he took for win percentage of only 35.7-percent.

So in terms of a critical faceoff in the defensive zone, Kuznetsov would not have been Trotz’s first pick.  He had already taken the draw before in the defensive zone and lost to William Nylander leading to a dangerous deflection opportunity for Zach Hyman.

Toronto matched Kuznetsov with one of the better faceoff players on the team in Brian Boyle, but Boyle was kicked out of the circle and replaced by Kasperi Kapanen. Kapanen still won the draw against Kuznetsov, however, giving the Maple Leafs possession which prevented a line change by Washington.

The shift was not an overly long one for the offense. Kuznetsov was on the ice for 59 seconds which was typical of the shift lengths he had been getting in overtime. The same was not true, however, for the defense.

With only three pairs of defensemen as opposed to four offensive lines, the defensemen’s shifts are much more limited because they are going to take more of them than the offense. Karl Alzner was on the ice for 50 seconds when the goal was scored. That was his longest shift since late in the third period. John Carlson was on the ice for 50 seconds as well which was about double the length of the shifts he had been taking in the second overtime.

The resulting possession led to the game-winning goal by Kapanen just 20 seconds later.

The impact of a simple icing call can so often be overlooked as it does not really begin to be a factor until later in the game when the players’ legs get heavier and the disadvantage in keeping the same line becomes more pronounced. On Saturday, an icing call gave Toronto a favorable faceoff matchup in the Caps’ defensive zone and forced a tired defensive pair of Alzner-Carlson to remain on the ice

The rest, as they say, is history.

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Capitals vs. Lightning Game 6 Eastern Conference Final 2018: Date, Time, How to Watch, live stream

Capitals vs. Lightning Game 6 Eastern Conference Final 2018: Date, Time, How to Watch, live stream

When the Capitals take the ice in Game 6, they will be playing for their playoff lives. After losing Game 5 on Saturday to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Caps must win on Monday or their season will be over.

In order to do that, the Caps will have to change some things. First, they have to figure out how to win at home, something they have yet to do in this series. Second, they will have to find a way to get to Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy who has been dominant the past three games. Alex Ovechkin also needs to win the matchup against the fourth line since he has only two five-on-five points through five games. Finally, the defense will have to be better. Matt Niskanen took the blame for Game 5, but really it was a tough night all around.

Also, a few penalty calls against Tampa Bay would be nice too.

Where: Capital One Arena

When: 8:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Lightning, Game 6 will be broadcast on NBCSN

Live Stream: You can watch Capitals-Lightning Game 6 on NBC Sports' live stream page.


Game 6 of the Capitals vs. Lightning 2018 NHL Playoff series takes place on Monday, May 21 at 8:00 p.m. at Capital One Arnea.


The TV broadcast of Game 6 between the Capitals and Lightning is on NBCSN. Capitals pre- and postgame coverage takes place on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:30 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
7:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
8:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Lightning Game 6 on NBCSN
10:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
11:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime


Game 6 between the Capitals and Lightning is available to stream online on Monday, May 21 live here through the NBC Sports live stream page.


Capitals projected lines:

Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Tom Wilson
Chandler Stephenson - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Jakub Vrana - Lars Eller - Brett Connolly
Devante Smith-Pelly -  Jay Beagle - Alex Chiasson

Michal Kempny - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Christian Djoos

Braden Holtby with Philipp Grubauer as backup.

Lightning projected lines:

Ondrej Palat - Steven Stamkos - Nikita Kucherov
Tyler Johnson - Brayden Point - Yanni Gourde
Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - J.T. Miller
Chris Kunitz - Cedric Paquette - Ryan Callahan

Victor Hedman - Dan Girardi
Ryan McDonagh - Anton Stralman
Braydon Coburn - Mikhail Sergachev

Andrei Vasilevskiy starts with Louis Domingue as backup.


Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.


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George McPhee's Vegas Golden Knights advance to Stanley Cup Final


George McPhee's Vegas Golden Knights advance to Stanley Cup Final

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Ryan Reaves scored the winning goal, Marc-Andre Fleury made 31 saves and the Vegas Golden Knights pushed their remarkable expansion season into the Stanley Cup Final, beating the Winnipeg Jets 2-1 on Sunday in Game 5 of the Western Conference final.

Alex Tuch also scored for the Knights. They lost Game 1 in Winnipeg before winning four straight to become the first expansion team since the 1968 St. Louis Blues -- when the six initial expansion teams were put alone in the West -- to get to the final.

Vegas will meet the Tampa Bay Lightning or the Washington Capitals in the final. Tampa Bay leads the Eastern Conference final 3-2, with Game 6 set for Monday night in Washington.

Josh Morrissey scored for the Jets, and Connor Hellebuyck made 30 saves.

Reaves, the bruising Winnipeg native acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins before to the trade deadline in February, snapped a 1-1 tie with 6:39 left in the second period when he tipped Luca Sbisa's point shot past Hellebuyck for his first goal of the playoffs.

Winnipeg got a power play early in the third, but couldn't muster much of anything. The Knights smothered much of the Jets' attack for the next 10 minutes, with Hellebuyck having to come up with big stops on William Karlsson and Eric Haula to keep his team within one.

The Jets pressed with under 4 minutes to go, with Fleury stopping captain Blake Wheeler on the doorstep, but it wasn't nearly enough as the Knights closed out their third straight series on the road.

The Jets beat the Knights 4-2 in Game 1, but Vegas snatched home ice with a 3-1 victory in Game 2 before picking up 4-2 and 3-2 wins at T-Mobile Arena.

The Knights, whose jaw-dropping inaugural 109-point campaign included a Pacific Division crown, swept the Los Angeles Kings in the first round, and knocked out the San Jose Sharks in six games.

The Jets had the NHL's second-best record with 114 points in the regular season. They advanced to the first conference final in city's history with a five-game victory over the Minnesota Wild in the opening round before topping the Presidents' Trophy-winning Nashville Predators in Game 7 on the road.

The usual raucous, white-clad crowd at Bell MTS Place -- not to mention the thousands of fans outside the arena attending a street party on a sun-drenched spring afternoon -- were silenced just 5:11 into Game 5 when Tuch jumped on Morrissey's turnover and fired his sixth past Hellebuyck.

The Jets were tentative to start and it got worse after the opener as Vegas dominated the next couple of shifts, forcing some good saves from Hellebuyck before Winnipeg got its feet moving.

After being outshot 7-1 in the first 7 minutes, the Jets finally pushed back and turned the tide with the next nine attempts on goal, culminating with Morrissey making amends for his early gaffe with 2:46 left in the period.

Bryan Little won a faceoff in the offensive zone straight back to second-year defenseman, who blasted his first career playoff goal past Fleury's glove.

One of Winnipeg's downfalls in the series through four games was an inability to maintain momentum. The Knights scored within 1:28 of a Jets' goal in each of the first four games -- a crushing 12 seconds after Winnipeg tied Game 3, and an equally gut-wrenching 43 seconds after the Jets knotted Game 4 -- but they managed to take the game to the locker rooms tied 1-1.

Both teams had chances in the second period before Reaves made it 2-1, with Jets center Mathieu Perrault just missing on a pass from Little that had too much speed.

Right after Reaves scored the second playoff goal of his career -- and first since 2015 with St. Louis -- Winnipeg's Nikolaj Ehlers rang a shot off the post on Fleury.