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Maple Leafs stun Capitals with overtime shocker to pull even in series

Maple Leafs stun Capitals with overtime shocker to pull even in series

Final score: Toronto Maple Leafs 4, Washington Capitals 3

How it happened: Washington got out to a much better start than in Game 1, but the result was similar as James van Riemsdyk scored the only goal of a penalty-filled first period to put the Caps down by 1. Washington responded with power play goals from Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson in the second to take a 2-1 lead, but the plucky Leafs battled right back as Kasperi Kapanen and Morgan Rielly gave Toronto the 3-2 lead heading into the third. After a furious rally by Washington, Nicklas Backstrom finally netted the game-tying goal to force overtime, but Kasperi Kapanen scored the game-winner in double-overtime to tie the series at one.

What it means: The Maple Leafs earned the series split with Saturday’s win, taking away home ice advantage from the Caps as the series heads to Toronto. That sets up an all-important Game 3 on Monday as, per Elias Sports Bureau, 67.6-percent of teams that win Game 3 after splitting Games 1 and 2 go on to win the series.


Maple Leafs goal: James van Riemsdyk from Tyler Bozak and Jake Gardiner at 17:34 in the 1st period. Gardiner held the puck at the blue line, pulled off the gorgeous spin move to get away from Tom Wilson, tried to turn into the slot where he was met by Matt Niskanen who forced the puck loose. Jay Beagle could not corral it and van Riemsdyk swooped in and fired the quick shot for the goal. Caps 0, Maple Leafs 1

Caps goal: Alex Ovechkin (power play) from Marcus Johansson and T.J. Oshie at 3:47 in the 2nd period. Based on the first period, it looked as if the Leafs’ penalty kill strategy was going to be to park a man right on Ovechkin. With the puck in the right corner, however, Zach Hyman left the Great 8 alone in the office. Big mistake. When Oshie finally found some room to work with, he found Ovechkin with the pass and Ovechkin did what he does from the office. Caps 1, Maple Leafs 1

Caps goal: John Carlson (power play) from Justin Williams and Andre Burakovsky at 11:06 in the 2nd period. On the power play, Williams fed the puck back to the blue line and the penalty killers gave Carlson too much space. He brought it to the top of the face off circle and fired a slap shot into the net. Caps 2, Maple Leafs 1

Maple Leafs goal: Kasperi Kapanen from Matt Martin and Brian Boyle at 14:25 in the 2nd period. With the puck behind the Caps' net, Martin took the puck and tried to feed it to the front. It bounced off the skate of Daniel Winnik and no one could seem to corral it until Kapanen took it and backhanded a shot through the five-hole of Braden Holtby. Caps 2, Maple Leafs 2

Maple Leafs goal: Morgan Rielly (power play) from Mitch Marner at 19:46 in the 2nd period. Toronto went on the power play with just over 30 seconds remaining, but were allowed to set up in Washington's zone thanks to a lost faceoff by Beagle. The play itself was nothing special as Rielly skated along the blue line and fired a wrister that somehow avoided all traffic and hit the top corner past a screened Holtby. Caps 2, Maple Leafs 3

Caps goal: Nicklas Backstrom from Dmitry Orlov at 12:39 in the 3rd period. In a monster shift in which the Caps would simply not give up possession of the puck, they finally struck as an Orlov shot deflected right to Backstron who had an empty net yawning. Caps 3, Maple Leafs 3

Maple Leafs goal: Kasperi Kapanen from Matt Martin and Brian Boyle at 11:53 in the 2nd overtime. Caps 3, Maple Leafs 4

3 Caps stars  

1. Braden Holtby: Washington's steady Eddie. He almost always has a great game and boy did he come up with some big saves on Saturday including a clutch save on Hyman with three minutes left to go in the third period in a tie game off a bad turnover from Niskanen and multiple incredible overtime saves.

2. Nicklas Backstrom: When the Caps needed a goal, Backstrom was there. He was at the right place at the right time, but that's what Backstrom does. He also was an impressive 57.9-percent on the faceoff.

3. Alex Ovechkin: The Caps' captain did not have much of an impact on Thursday, but he definitely did in Game 2. It's important to make the opposition pay for their mistakes and Ovechkin did in the second when Zach Hyman left Ovechkin alone in the office on the power play. For the game, he registered a game-high nine shots on goal.

Look ahead: The series now heads north of the border to Toronto for Game 3 on Monday and Game 4 on Wednesday. They then return to Washington on Friday for Game 5.

Watch the game? Tell us what you thought!

MORE CAPITALS: Penalties the early story of Caps-Leafs Game 2

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This Caps Stanley Cup tattoo has everyone's beat


This Caps Stanley Cup tattoo has everyone's beat

Since the Washington Capitals won the Stanley Cup for the first time over one month ago, Caps fans, (and players), have rushed to their local tattoo parlor to get some ink commemorating the win.

We've seen the classic Capitals logo with the Stanley Cup, but nothing that comes close to the masterpiece that is Shane Peacher's tattoo.

Peacher tweeted to Joe B and Courtney Laughlin the finished tat: a work of art featuring Alex Ovechkin kissing the Stanley Cup for the first time as it's hoisted over his head.

Joe B replied making sure Shane had enough room on his other tricep for next year.

Shane replied that he's thinking of Evgeny Kuznetsov's iconic celebration that has since been dubbed the "birdman."

Shane got his Caps tattoo at the Helix Tattoo Lodge in Rising Sun, Maryland, by tattoo artist, Justin Holcombe.


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Key Caps questions: Will John Carlson repeat his career year after signing long-term?

Key Caps questions: Will John Carlson repeat his career year after signing long-term?

The dog days of summer are officially here, but it's never too hot to talk some hockey.

Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir and Capitals correspondent JJ Regan are here to help you through the offseason doldrums. They will discuss key questions facing the Caps for the upcoming season as Washington prepares to defend its title for the first time in franchise history.

Today's question: Will John Carlson repeat his career year after signing a long-term contract?

Tarik: When a player has a career year and it coincides with the final year of his contract, the reaction from some fans and media is often a sarcastic, ‘Well, of course he did.’

And I’m sure there are some folks who wonder about Carlson’s breakout season and whether there was a connection between the uptick in his production and the potential of an enormous payday.

Indeed, the 28-year-old established highs in goals (15), assists (53), points (68) and ice time (24:47). He was outstanding in the postseason, too, amassing five goals and 15 assists while playing solidly in his own end to help lead the Caps to their first championship.

The financial reward came a couple of weeks later when he signed an eight-year, $64 million contract to remain in Washington.

Which brings us to today’s question.

It’s obviously impossible to say for sure what’s going to happen, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he had another big season. Why? A few reasons:

  • As good as he was, last year wasn’t a total outlier, either. Carlson racked up 55 points (12 goals, 43 assists) in 2014-15, which was tied for fifth best among blue liners that year.
  • He was at his best last season skating with trade deadline addition Michal Kempny. Kempny, of course, also re-upped, agreeing to a four-year extension. So, in theory, Carlson should be able to pick up where he left off.
  • Carlson has credited Todd Reirden with helping him take his game to new heights. Well, Reirden is now the guy in charge of the whole operation. How could that not help?
  • A major reason Carlson puts up so many points is his role on the power play. And that unit, which really hit its stride in the postseason (29.3-percent), returns all five skaters.
  • Carlson has also been pretty durable, which is critical to being productive. In fact, last season he skated in all of the Caps’ games for the sixth time in eight full-time seasons.

So, yeah, it’s all setting up nicely for Carlson to have a strong 2018-19.

To me, the only unknown is whether he’ll have the same hunger and determination now that he’s got long-term security and that previously elusive championship ring.

Again, that’s impossible to predict. But I can tell you this: Over the course of two decades in this business, I’ve covered lots of players who inked life-changing contracts. With a few of them, I had immediate concerns.

I have no such reservations about Carlson's ability to play up to his new deal, particularly in the first several seasons of it.

JJ: There's nothing wrong with a player being motivated by a new deal, but I am always wary when players have career years on the last year of their contract.

The issue is whether or not a player can continue to play at the level they showed when a new contract is no longer a motivating factor. After signing a new deal for eight years and $64 million, Carlson won't have to think about money or contracts for a long time.

When it comes to motivation, a lot of the questions surrounding the Capitals this year will depend on how they react to winning the Cup. Of course everyone wants to repeat, but psychologically will they come into camp more motivated than ever to defend their title or will they be satisfied with finally winning it all?

For Carlson, there are several reasons to be hopeful. Tarik went over a number of those reasons above, but the two biggest for me are Michal Kempny and Todd Reirden.

This season, Carlson will have Kempny as his partner to start, rather than a cycle of practically every left-handed defenseman on the ice depending on the situation. Second, what Mitch Korn is to goalies, Reirden is to defensemen. With him as the head coach, I believe the ceiling for Carlson will only continue to climb.

Let's also go beyond the numbers. Matt Niskanen suffered an injury early last season that forced Carlson into a primary role on both ends of the ice. He was playing nearly 30 minutes a night and, with two rookies on the blue line who Barry Trotz did everything he could to shelter, those were very hard minutes. Yet, Carlson excelled. The offensive upside was always there, but the way he played defensively was a revelation.

While Dmitry Orlov and Niskanen will remain a solid pair for the Caps, I believe Carlson will be the guy heading into the season which will mean more minutes and more responsibility.

Plus, despite what he meant to the team's defense and despite leading all defensemen in points with 68, Carlson was not selected to participate in the All-Star Game, he was not one of the three finalists for the Norris Trophy and he was not among the four defensemen named to the end of season All-Star team. His incredible season earned him no recognition at all other than his new contract. A $64 million contract is a heck of a consolation prize, but his season deserved more recognition than that.

You don't often see a player of his caliber enter a season with a chip on his shoulder, but Carlson should have a fairly sizable one.

Other key questions

How will the Caps look different under Todd Reirden?
Will the Caps suffer a Stanley Cup hangover?
Can Alex Ovechkin still challenge for another Rocket Richard Trophy?
Has Evgeny Kuznetsov made the jump from really good player to superstar?