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It's been a long time coming for Brett Connolly, the Caps' nominee for the Masterton

It's been a long time coming for Brett Connolly, the Caps' nominee for the Masterton

Capitals winger Brett Connolly has been nominated for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, the Washington chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association announced on Friday.

The Masterton Trophy recognizes perseverance, dedication and sportsmanship.

Connolly has scored a career-high 15 goals this season, despite missing 14 games as a healthy scratch earlier in the campaign.

The 24-year-old's breakout season comes nearly seven years after the Lightning selected him sixth overall. It also comes nine months after the Bruins chose not retain his negotiating rights.

The Caps snapped up Connolly after Boston cut him loose, signing him to a one-year, $850,000 contract.

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After a "rough" start to his tenure in Washington, Coach Barry Trotz shuffled his forward combos and Connolly ended up as the left wing on the third line with Lars Eller and Andre Burakovsky.

The trio quickly found some chemistry—and Connolly finally found the groove and comfort level he had always sought.

“It’s been good,” Connolly said after practice on Friday. “It was a little bit of a rough start. But after Christmas, when me Lars and Burky were put together, we kinda went on a little run, the team was playing well and it just kinda bled on for the rest of the year.”

Connolly added: “I’m obviously very happy with the way the year has gone.”

Trotz said he’s been pleasantly surprised by Connolly’s goal production, particularly since he doesn't play a whole lot (10:49 per game).

“He’s given us quality minutes,” Trotz said. “Our scouts identified him as a guy who could contribute offensively. How much, I didn’t know. If you had said Brett Connolly is going to give you 15 goals coming into the season, I’d say, ‘We’ll take it, sure.’”

Connolly will be a restricted free agent at season’s end.

“I would love to be back,” he said. “We’ll see what happens. There’s a lot of things that can happen from now until the end of the playoffs. A lot of guys are up on their contracts [and] we all have one goal and that’s to ultimately win at the end of the year. We’ll worry about where we’re going to be next year when we’re all done. Hopefully with the Cup.”

Each of the PHWA’s 30 chapters submits a Masterton nominee.

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John Carlson's autograph the finishing touch to a Capitals fan's tattoo sleeve

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Leah Carey/Twitter

John Carlson's autograph the finishing touch to a Capitals fan's tattoo sleeve

It's been a long time in the making, but a local Washington fan finally put the finishing touches on his Capitals-themed tattoo sleeve on Thursday.

Maryland-based fan Leah Carey posted a picture of her father's tattooed arm on Twitter, showing off the finished product.

John Carlson is credited with the final assist, as his signature was the last thing Carey's father needed to complete the tattoo collection. He finally got the signaure when Carlson took the time to autograph his arm after a recent practice. Carey then got it tattooed the following day.

In addition to Carlson's autograph, the sleeve includes various Caps' logos over the years, including their Stanley Cup championship crest.

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With Devante Smith-Pelly back in the Caps lineup, we look back at his four goals in NBC Sports Washington's Top 20 goals from the Caps' Cup run

With Devante Smith-Pelly back in the Caps lineup, we look back at his four goals in NBC Sports Washington's Top 20 goals from the Caps' Cup run

With Devante Smith-Pelly back with the Capitals following an injury to T.J. Oshie in Game 4, Washington is hoping that DSP will be able to perform similarly to how he did during last year's Stanley Cup Playoffs. With seven goals last postseason, including one in the Stanley Cup-clinching game, Smith-Pelly was a vital part of the Capitals' success.

Before he takes the ice in Game 5 on Saturday night, let's revisit some of those goals that made NBC Sports Washington's Top 20 goals from the 2018 Stanley Cup run.

17. Devante Smith-Pelly's Game 4 goal vs. Vegas

Devante Smith-Pelly scored in the first period against the Golden Knights to put the Caps up 3-0 early and secure an eventual 6-3 win for a 3-1 series lead.

14. Smith-Pelly strikes in Game 6 against Columbus

Devante Smith-Pelly's series-clinching tally in Game 6 helped Washington advance to the second round of the 2018 postseason.

13. Smith-Pelly grows the lead in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final vs. Vegas

Devante Smith-Pelly proved to be pretty clutch. He capitalized on a Golden Knights turnover to toss the puck top shelf over Fleury in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.

4. Devante Smith-Pelly's game-tying goal in Game 5 against Vegas

About halfway through the third with the Caps down 3-2 in Game 5 of the Cup Final, Devante Smith-Pelly put the puck past Marc-Andre Fleury while falling to tie things up against Vegas.

Enjoyed that little trip to the past? Check out the full Top 20 here.

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