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How Washington can avoid being the same old Capitals


How Washington can avoid being the same old Capitals

When the Capitals win without Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom contributing offensively, they are viewed as a well-balanced team capable of going the distance.

When they lose without Ovechkin and Backstrom finding the score sheet, they are viewed as the same old Capitals. Stop the dynamic duo, stop the Caps.

Entering tonight’s Game 6 at Verizon Center, Ovechkin has gone three games without a point, while Backstrom has gone four.

“Every coach in the world will tell you your best players have to be your best players,” Trotz said before the game. “They’ve contributed in this series [Ovechkin with goals in Games 1 and 2 and Backstrom with a key assist in Game 1] but they’re getting checked very well. They’re going head-to-head against some very good defensemen and forwards.”


From the start of the series Rangers coach Alain Vigneault has designated Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi as his shutdown defense pairing, while alternating his top two forward lines – the top line of Derick Brassard between Rick Nash and Marty St. Louis and the second line of Derek Stepan between Chris Kreider and Jesper Fast --  against Ovechkin, Backstrom and Joel Ward.

In the past three games the Caps’ top line has spent many shifts in its defensive zone, where Ovechkin, while improved, is still a liability.

“That’s why you’ve got to rely on everybody,” Trotz said. “That’s one thing we’ve tried to do in our culture since I’ve come here. We’ve got to find different ways to do it. If it’s not Backy and Ovi, then it’s someone else. We’re hoping tonight one of our four lines really step up.”

The Caps also want to dictate the pace in the first period for a change, using the energy of the crowd to ignite an early barrage on goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who, since 2012, is 12-3 when facing playoff elimination. The Rangers have outscored opponents 7-2 in the first period during these playoffs.  The Caps have been outscored 7-5.

“It’s been a while,” Trotz when asked the last time the Caps were the hammer and their opponents the anvil to start a game. “We’ve got to get back to playing a little bit of Caps hockey When you play a series the length of this one and last one you find different nuances of each opponent. They found some of ours, we found some of theirs.”

One thing the Rangers showed in Game 5 was patience in their shot selection. That was apparent on their overtime game-winner when Stepan passed up a shot because Curtis Glencross and Mike Green took away his shooting lane. Instead, he dropped a pass for McDonagh for the game-wnner.

“My initial thought is shot,” Stepan said, “but there was too much traffic.”

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NHL Playoff 2019 Roundup: Blues shutout Sharks 5-0 to win Game 5

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NHL Playoff 2019 Roundup: Blues shutout Sharks 5-0 to win Game 5

The St. Louis Blues won a decisive Game 5 against the San Jose Sharks 5-0, pushing the Sharks to the brink of elimination.

The Blues are now one win away from their first Stanley Cup Final since the 1969-70 season, where they lost to the Boston Bruins in a sweep.

St. Louis started the scoring early when Oskar Sundqvist netted his second goal of the series in the first five minutes of the game. 

Jaden Schwartz then tallied his first goal of the game off a juicy rebound in front of Martin Jones to start the scoring in the second period. It was Schwartz's 10th goal of the playoffs, which tied him for third all-time in Blues history for goals in the postseason.

Vladimir Tarasenko added to the Blues lead off a penalty shot. He's the first player in Blues franchise history to score a penalty shot goal in the playoffs.

Schwartz then added two more goals in the third period for a hat-trick. The first came on a 5-on-3 power play advantage off a scramble in front of the net, and the second came from a backdoor one-timer pass from Tarasenko.

Schwartz now has 12 goals these playoffs, and it's his second hat-trick of the playoffs.

Blues goalie Jordan Binnington recorded 21 saves for a shutout, and he's the first rookie goalie to accomplish that feat for the Blues.


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NHL Playoff 2019 Roundup: Blues pull even with Sharks with 2-1 win

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NHL Playoff 2019 Roundup: Blues pull even with Sharks with 2-1 win

The St. Louis Blues' two-goal first period powered them to a win over the San Jose Sharks, and the series is now tied.

The Blues started with a goal 35 seconds into the game. Ivan Barbashev picked off a Brent Burns exit pass and flung it towards the net for the games opening goal. 

Barbashev is the second Blues player to score in the first minute of a game these playoffs. Jaden Schwartz is the other player.

Tyler Bozak scored the game-winning goal for the Blues on a power play off a scramble in front of the net.

The Sharks responded when Thomas Hertl poked the puck past the goal line after Jordan Binnington thought he had the puck covered. Hertl now has 10 goals this postseason for the Sharks, and the team now features 10 or more players to score 10+ goals in the playoffs for the second time in franchise history.

Binnington's 29 save performance gave him his 10th win of the playoffs, the most of any Blues goaltender in franchise history.