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Kuznetsov shuts down McDavid as Caps extend home win streak to 13

Kuznetsov shuts down McDavid as Caps extend home win streak to 13

Final Score: Washington Capitals (41-12-7) defeat the Edmonton Oilers (33-21-8) 2-1 at Verizon Center on Friday night.

How It Happened: The Capitals were unable to set the NHL record for most consecutive home games with at least five goals scored, but they did just enough to best Oilers goalie Cam Talbot, who stood on his head for much of the game. The Capitals were at their strongest when getting out on the rush, which in turn didn't allow the Oilers' top line of Leon Draisaitl, Patrick Maroon and phenom Connor McDavid to get settled looks on offense.

What It Means: The home victory means the Capitals' home win streak extends to 13 games, dating back to a Dec. 29 shootout loss to the Devils.The 13-game win streak ties a franchise history. After dropping back-to-back games last week, the Capitals are now streaking again.

Scoring Summary:

Capitals Goal: Dmitry Orlov ran out of real estate in the left corner, which forced him to shovel a pass backwards to Tom Wilson. The third-liner stepped in with space availableand unleashed a wrister past Cam Talbot to give the Caps a 1-0 lead 12:22 of the first period.

Oilers Goal: Early in the second period, the Capitals attempted to clear the puck out of their end.A miscommunication between Andre Kuznetsov and Justiun Williams resulted in an easy interception from Andrej Sekara who then left it for Leon Draisaitl, who put it passt Braden Holtby for the equalizer at 0:35 of the second period.

Capitals Goal: Justin Williams tallied his 19th goal of the season thanks to a brilliant slapshot from the right wing early in the third period. The Capitals had a sustained offensive possesion, with Karl Alzner finding Williams trailing behind. He left it for the savy veteran, who burried past Talbot for the 2-1 lead.

Three Stars of the Game:

3 - Branden Holtby: Holtbeast didn't pitch a shutout, but 30 saves on 31 shots isn't too shabby. For every dazzling save Cam Talbot made, Holtby answered, especially during a rocky second period where the Capitals had issues controlling the puck on offense. Holtby finished strong as well, turning back numerous shots with the Oilers going 6-on-5 for the final 120 seconds.

2 - Evgeny Kuznetzov: While he didn't register a point against the Oilers, Kuznetsov was rock solid on defense and thwarted all of McDavid's output.He was physical on offense and defense and set up his linemates well. Kuznetsov was no slouch on offense, putting three shots on set.

1 - Justin Williams: The elder statesman led all players with four shots on goal, and burried the game-winner in the third period. Williams now hasa 19 goals on the season, and has provided the Caps' with countless late-game pick-me-ups.

Looking Ahead: The Capitals have a quick turnaround as they head to Nashville to take on Filip Forsberg and the Nashville Predators.

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How to watch the IIHF World Championship Finals: Date, Time, TV Channel, Lineups

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How to watch the IIHF World Championship Finals: Date, Time, TV Channel, Lineups

The 2019 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championship is coming to a close this Memorial Day weekend.

After two weeks, the sixteen team field has been narrowed down to four with the world championship now on the line in Slovakia. 

The two group winners, Canada, the top-ranked team in the world and 26-time IIHF Champions, and Russia, who rolled through the group stage with a 7-0 record and a +29 goal differential, are the favorites. Russia overwhelmingly has played like the best team in Slovakia, outscoring its opponents 40-10 behind Nikita Kucherov's 16 points in eight games.

The Russian/ Soviet Union team is the only team with more titles than the Canadians with 27 (five as Russia, 22 as the Soviet Union). 

Washington Capital Alex Ovechkin is playing for Team Russia. In eight games he's scored two goals and recorded an assist. 

Canada will face off against the Czech Republic, whose only loss came against the Russians in group play, with a spot to the Finals on the line. Russia will play Finland for the last spot in the gold medal match.

Three of the four teams remaining (Russia, Canda, and the Czech Republic) are the winningest teams in the IIHF's history. The four semifinalists have combined to win 67 of the 82 IIHF World Championships.

When is the 2019 IIHF World Championship Finals?

The 2019 IIHF World Championship Finals will take place at 8:15 p.m. local time (2:15 p.m. ET) on Sunday, May 26. The bronze medal match will precede the gold medal match at 3:45 p.m. local time (9:15 a.m. ET). 

2019 IIHF World Championship Schedule:

There are only four matches left in the 2019 IIHF World Championship. The two semifinals, the bronze medal match, and the gold medal match.

No. 3 Russia vs. No. 5 Finland, 9:15 a.m. ET, May 25
No. 1 Canada vs. No. 6 Czech Republic, 1:15 p.m. ET, May 25

Loser of Semifinal No. 1 vs. Loser of Semifinal No. 2, 9:45 a.m. ET, May 26

Winner of Semifinal No. 1 vs. Winner of Semifinal No. 2, 2:15 p.m. ET, May 26

How to watch or stream the 2019 IIHF World Championship Finals:

All games at the IIHF World Championships will be broadcast on NHL Network.

Who is playing in the 2019 IIHF World Championship Finals?

The 2019 IIHF World Championship Finals will be played between the winner of Russia (8-0-0)/ Finland (7-0-1) and Canada (7-1-0)/ Czech Republic (7-0-1).

Lineups for the 2019 IIHF World Championship Finals:

Lineups for the 2019 IIHF Championship Finals will be announced on the morning of May 26. 

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The Blues turnaround from last place to the playoffs began with a blowout win over the Caps

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The Blues turnaround from last place to the playoffs began with a blowout win over the Caps

When the St. Louis Blues woke up on Jan. 3, they were in dead last in the NHL. A 15-18-4 record gave them 34 points, less than teams like the Los Angeles Kings and the Ottawa Senators who would go on to finish the season as the two worst teams. Yes, St. Louis had played in only 37 games to that point, the fewest in the league, but finding a way to climb back into the playoff hunt seemed daunting and unlikely.

Now the Blues are the Western Conference champions and stand just four wins away from the Stanley Cup.

The Blues have been one of the best stories of the NHL season climbing from last place to the Stanley Cup Final. When looking back at St. Louis’ season, there are several moments one can point to as key moments in the turnaround. Craig Berube replaced Mike Yeo as head coach on Nov. 20 and goalie Jordan Binnington got his first start with the Blues on Jan. 7 and never gave back the crease.

But the turnaround really started on Jan. 3. On that morning, the Blues were in last place. That would be the last day they would find themselves there.

And it all started with a 5-2 win against the Washington Capitals.

On Jan. 3, St. Louis and Washington looked like two teams headed in opposite directions. While the Blues were in last place, the Caps were rolling with a 24-11-3 record, first in the Metropolitan Division. Washington came into St. Louis on a five-game road winning streak. As if that wasn’t enough, the Blues were also without sniper Vladimir Tarasenko.

And yet, what looked like an easy win for the Caps turned into anything but. Robert Thomas scored a deflection just four minutes into the game. Washington managed to take a 2-1 lead early in the second, but St. Louis rattled off four straight goals for the 5-2 win. With Washington down only 3-2 heading into the third period, the Blues but on a possession clinic outshooting Washington 14-2 in the final frame.

"We stayed aggressive," Alex Pietrangelo told reporters. "When we're playing in the O zone, the best way to play defense is to play in their end. We kept the puck, we moved the puck, we worked. Forwards were great tonight, protecting the center of the ice. It kind of took their playmakers out of the game."

The Caps’ first shot came 13 minutes into the third. By then, the Blues already had 12 shots and two goals.

Over the course of an 82-game season, teams will lose games against teams they shouldn’t. This felt different. Watching this game, you did not come away thinking the Caps played down to an inferior team. The Blues dominated that game and the Caps knew it.

“They were skating, competing harder, won races, more determined than we were,” defenseman Matt Niskanen said. “If we’re being honest about it, we didn’t have a very good game, and they played a pretty darn good game.”
More importantly, St. Louis realized it as well. They knew following the game that this was a win and a performance they could build on.

“I think we out-chanced them, so we're building here at even strength,” Pietrangelo said. “It's just a matter of keeping it at even strength and scoring goals. Tonight the goals weren't necessarily pretty but we created a lot of chances."
That night proved to be the first night of the turnaround. From Jan. 3 on, no team in the NHL earned more points than St. Louis’ 65, not even the Tampa Bay Lightning who won the Presidents’ Trophy with an incredible 128 points.

St. Louis was not expected to be bad this season. The team made a number of offseason moves to bolster the roster and many thought they could be real contenders, but they sure did not play like it through the first half of the season. It took a big win over the defending Stanley Cup champs to show them and everyone else just how good they really were. From that point on, they never looked back.