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Late Lightning strike: News, notes, quotes from Tampa's Game 3 win


Late Lightning strike: News, notes, quotes from Tampa's Game 3 win

News, notes and quotes as the Tampa Bay Lightning enjoy another one-goal playoff victory following Monday night’s 3-2 win over the Blackhawks in Chicago. The Lightning lead the Stanley Cup Final two games to one, with Game 4 set for Wednesday night in United Center [8 p.m., NBCSN]:

Thisclose: For the third time in three games, the winning club rallied from a deficit to pull out a victory. Dating to Game 6 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final – which also featured the Blackhawks – seven of the past nine Stanley Cup Final games have seen the victorious team overcome a deficit at any point in the contest, including five in the third period.

Two for the road: Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman recorded a pair of assists in Game 3, setting a pair of franchise playoff records in the process. His assist on Ryan Callahan's first-period goal was the 20th of his playoff career, passing Dan Boyle [19] for the most ever by a Lightning defenseman. His centering pass to Cedric Paquette on the game-winner with 3:11 remaining in the third period was his 23rd career playoff point (2-21—23 in 45 games), passing Boyle (3-19—22 in 45 GP) for most career playoff points by a Tampa Bay blueliner. Hedman is now a plus-13in the playoffs, second in the NHL to Chicago blue liner Duncan Keith (plus-14). 

Road warriors: The Lightning improved their league-leading road record in the 2015 playoffs to 8-3. Their eight playoff road wins set a franchise record, passing the seven recorded during their run to the 2004 Stanley Cup (7-3). The NHL record for road wins in one playoff year is 10, last achieved by the Kings in 2012 (10-1).

The Bolts have outscored opponents 31-18 overall away from home and have won four straight as visitors dating to Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. The Lightning also improved to 3-0-1 in their past four trips to United Center dating to April 3, 2011.

The Blackhawks, meanwhile, suffered just their second home loss of the playoffs (7-2). Their other home playoff loss came against the Anaheim Ducks in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final.

King me: Tampa Bay goaltender Ben Bishop (36 saves) improved to 8-3 on the road in the playoffs with a 1.50 goals-against average, .947 save percentage and two shutouts.

Quick response: Chicago forward Brandon Saad scored a go-ahead goal at 4:14 of the third period that was quickly followed by Tampa Bay forward Ondrej Palat's game-tying goal at 4:27. The 13 seconds between goals is three off the Stanley Cup Final record for fastest two goals by both teams (10 seconds), set in 1936 and equaled in 1947.

Gotta have Duncan: Chicago's Duncan Keith recorded his 18th assist and 20th point of the playoffs – both tops among defensemen – and logged a game-high 31:37 in ice time. The only defensemen to collect more assists in one playoff year are: Paul Coffey (25 in 1985 with Edmonton, Al MacInnis (24 in 1989 with Calgary), Brian Leetch (23 in 1994 with the Rangers) and Bobby Orr (19 in 1972 with Boston).

Still going strong: Chicago forward Marian Hossa tallied a pair of assists in Game 3, raising his career playoff scoring totals to 49-94--143 in 191 games. Hossa jumped to 27th place on the all-time playoff assists list, passing Sergei Zubov (93A), and moved into a tie with Ron Francis (46-97--143) for 33rd place on the NHL’s all-time playoff points list.

Long time coming: Chicago rookie defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk made his Stanley Cup Playoff debut in Game 3, logging 9:01 of ice time with one shot on goal. The 23-year-old rookie appeared in his first NHL game since Nov. 16. He missed most of the regular season and the start of the playoffs after suffering kneecap and wrist injuries that required surgery. He recorded one assist in 18 regular-season games with the Blackhawks prior to being sidelined. Trevor is the younger brother of Toronto forward James van Riemsdyk, who also appeared in the Stanley Cup Final in his rookie season -- as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers against the Blackhawks in 2010.

By the numbers: The team that has won Game 3 after a split of the opening two contests of the Final has gone on to capture the Stanley Cup 21 of 26 times (80.8 percent) since the series adopted the best-of-seven format in 1939.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, road teams that win Game 3 are 13-0 in best-of-seven Stanley Cup Final series that were tied 1-1.

The Lightning scored the opening goal of the game for the third time in three Stanley Cup Final games and improved to 11-1 when scoring the first goal during the playoffs.

The Lightning have led for 51.3 percent of total playing time in the Stanley Cup Final, the teams have been tied for 45.2 percent and the Blackhawks have led for 3.5 percent. The clubs have been tied or separated by one goal for the entire series.

What the Lightning said:

"I feel like Marshawn Lynch right now.” – goaltender Ben Bishop after declining to answer reporters’ questions about his injury

“I didn't know if I was going to make the team at the beginning.  I was there to make the team, right? I did everything I can to make the team, but it wasn't enough.” --game-winning goal scorer Cedric Paquette on not making the Lightning out of training camp

What the Blackhawks said:

“He looks like he's got some issues.  But I think we still didn't put enough pucks at the net and traffic, obviously.  But certainly later in the game there we made it easier on him.” – Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville

“Usually in every series, Game 4 is really huge. It’s either a tie or go down by two games.” – Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa

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Caps invite fans to submit original art for new Capit-Ale design

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Caps invite fans to submit original art for new Capit-Ale design

A freshly brewed beer is making its way to Capital One Arena. 

In partner with Devils Backbone Brewing Company, the Caps announced on Monday that starting in September, Capit-Ale India Pale Ale will be available for purchase at Capital One Arena. 

Capit-Ale will be available in two can designs. The first design features the Caps mural installation at L'Enfant Plaza, designed by the Washington, D.C., based artists BroCoLoco.

In efforts to spark excitement for the 2019-20 season, fans are invited to submit original art for a chance to be featured on the second can design.

Designs can be submitted from July 22-Oct.18 and will be selected in January 2020 by Devils Backbone Brewing Company and the Caps.

The winner will receive tickets to a Capitals game, a framed version of their art autographed by Caps players and have their art hung up in the Capital One  Arena Devils Backbone bar. 

The new 16 oz. hoppy brew will also be available on draft at select retail locations in the DMV area. 

This is not the first time Devils Backbone Brewing Company has partnered with a D.C. team. In 2018, they partnered with the Redskins to launch the #ATTR Ale at FedEx Field. 

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20 Burning Capitals Questions: How will the contract situation affect Backstrom and Holtby?

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20 Burning Capitals Questions: How will the contract situation affect Backstrom and Holtby?

The long, endless summer is only halfway done. The Capitals last played a game on April 24 and will not play another one until Oct. 2.

But with free agency and the NHL Draft behind them now, the 2019-2020 roster is almost set and it won’t be long until players begin trickling back onto the ice in Arlington for informal workouts.

With that in mind, and given the roasting temperatures outside, for four weeks NBC Sports Washington will look at 20 burning questions facing the Capitals as they look to rebound from an early exit from the Stanley Cup playoffs, keep alive their Metropolitan Division title streak and get back to their championship form of 2018.

The list will look at potential individual milestones, roster questions, prospects who might help and star players with uncertain futures. Today, we look at Nicklas Backstrom and Braden Holtby who are entering the final year of their contracts.

Will the contract situations hang over their heads all season and affect their play?

Professional athletes face pressure all the time. They have pressure to perform, pressure to make the playoffs, pressure to make a deep run and to win championships. Sometimes the greatest pressure a player can feel, however, comes when they are playing for a contract.

When you watch some of the greatest athletes in the world perform superhuman feats on the ice, it can be easy to forget that these players are also human. These are people with families. While contract numbers can be fun to play with on CapFriendly, we are also talking about people whose given career field has a limited window. They are quite literally playing for the future security of their families.

This brings us to Nicklas Backstrom and Braden Holtby, two players entering the final year of their contracts who also happen to be two of the best players on the team. Backstrom will be 32 by the end of next season and Holtby will be 30. Given their age, the next contract will likely be the last big one of their careers.

With no new update on their respective contracts and the calendar nearing August, it seems very likely, if not probably, that both players will begin the season without a new contract in hand.

One bad season or one bad injury could cause both players potentially millions of dollars. That is also tricky for the team because if the pressure of playing for their next contract messes with their heads, those are two of the team’s best players suffering rough seasons.

If Backstrom and Holtby struggle under the pressure of knowing every night they are playing for their next deals, they certainly would not be the first or last to do so. But let’s not forget who we are talking about here.

If you had to choose the two most unflappable players on the roster, Backstrom and Holtby would both be pretty high on that list. The mentally calm way in which they approach the game suggests both are well-suited to the pressures of a contract year.

While we have grouped both players into a single question as to how they will perform, both of their situations actually look very different.

Backstrom elected to go with security over money in his last contract for 10 years and $67 million. That deal has proven to be an extremely team-friendly contract. According to CapFriendly, Backstrom’s $6.7 million cap hit is only the 65th highest in the league. That’s a bargain for a future Hall-of-Famer in the prime of his career.

While he is certainly entitled to a raise, he also does not strike me as the type of player to hold the team hostage with an outrageous salary ask.

“This is all I know,” Backstrom said at the team’s breakdown day. “It’s crazy, but at the same time it’s a great feeling. I couldn’t ask for anything better from the fans and from the city of Washington.”

It is hard to imagine Backstrom and the team not being able to come to an agreement to keep him in Washington. He is still playing at a high level and, because he has never been an overly fast or overly physical player, he is likely to live up to new contract even in his mid-thirties. For him, there should be less pressure knowing he is likely to be back.

The same cannot be said for Holtby whose future in Washington is far more uncertain.

Much has been written on this topic of late and if you want a real deep-dive into why Holtby is doubtful to return to Washington, you can read my article here. To summarize, the high cost it will take to re-sign Holtby in both money and term as well as the looming Seattle expansion draft and the fact that the team’s top prospect is a goalie make it unlikely the Caps will be able to keep him. That puts even more pressure on Holtby as he faces the possibility of having to move on.

If there is one goalie who you should not worry about mentally, however, it is Holtby.

Holtby set a franchise record in April with his seventh postseason shutout. When asked what that did for his confidence he said, “Nothing. It's a win. We regroup, we know they're going to come harder next game and we'll focus on that."

When Washington was eliminated by the Carolina Hurricanes in a Game 7 double-overtime loss, Holtby said afterward, “Obviously it's disappointing. It's not where we expected to be. It's a hard-fought series and they just ended up making more plays than we did.”

Regardless of whether he is ecstatic or distraught, happy or sad, you can always expect a calm, monotone response from Holtby in the locker room. This does not strike me as a player who will spend the season sweating over a contract.

To say neither player will even think of their contract situations this season would be unrealistic. They are only human. But it seems unlikely that their future contracts will have any major impact on their play because of the personality of both players plus their respective situations. Backstrom in all likelihood will remain with the Caps while Holtby, even though it appears his future will be elsewhere, probably feels a lot better about his situation after seeing Sergei Bobrovsky sign a massive $70 million deal in the offseason.

Both players are level-headed and in good spots even if they do not have contracts beyond 2020.