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Orlov: 'Everybody laugh and I laugh, too'


Orlov: 'Everybody laugh and I laugh, too'

Long after Dmitry Orlov’s sleight-of-hand goal had made it onto every hockey highlight reel, the Capitals were still talking about it on Sunday, even sparking a new nickname for the 24-year-old Russian defenseman.


“Now you see me, now you don’t,” said Caps defenseman Nate Schmidt, who joined in on Saturday night’s scoring spree in a 7-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche. “That was awesome. I still can’t believe it. That and the celebrating. Arm pump, leg kick. Rarely seen, but highly effective.”

Thanks to the benefit of video replay, all of the Caps were able to see that Orlov did not pull a puck from his sleeve and place it on the ice to score his first NHL goal in 20 months. Instead, the saw him fake a shot to lose two defenders, juggle his own shortside rebound from his chest to his feet, then backpedal out of the corner to the front of the net for a goal.

“I saw him make that super nice move and he almost snuck it in the short side, said Orlov’s defense partner Taylor Chorney. “Honesty, after that, I had no idea. I was at the right point just waiting for the whistle because I thought it went out of play. Next thing I know, out of the corner of my eye I saw him pulling out of the corner and fire it in. You don’t see that too often.”

Caps left wing Jason Chimera was standing in the crease looking for a rebound on Orlov’s original shot when he realized the puck was on the other side of the ice and Orlov had it.

“The goalie (Calvin Pickard) motioned like he had it,” Chimera said. “I thought it was there or over the glass. And then ut of the corner of my eye I saw Orly sneaking around, so I kind of stayed there and hoped no one notice.”

No one did, until it was too late.  

The Capitals who were on the bench at the time of Orlov’s goal didn’t know what happened until they saw the replay on the overhead scoreboard.

“I saw the iso cam of him wheeling out of the corner and I was like, ‘What’s he doing?’” Schmidt said. “And all of a sudden he throws it in the back of the net and everyone just blew up. I was just as surprised as anyone else.”

Karl Alzner, one of four Caps defensemen to find the back of the net Saturday night, was just as impressed with the move Orlov made to take the first shot as he was with his presence of mind to score.

“He came down with an unreal move, that was an intense fake, he really sold it,” Alzner said. “And backward crossovers from the corner to an open net, it was just funny. And our celebration was huge.”

As you might imagine, Orlov had his own unique description of his memorable goal.

“I jump in the rush, get the puck, make a move, try to shoot short side,” he recounted. “It not go in, but puck goes to my chest or pants, I don’t remember what it was, and everybody don’t see the puck, so I see everybody look on the other side and I took it right away and start moving. I thought maybe the referee make a whistle or the D will come up to me. And they stayed in the net so I just need to shoot.”

As for the celebration, Orlov smiled broadly.  

“It just happen,” he said. “My emotion, I was so excited. Everybody say congrats. It was a funny goal. Everybody laugh and I laugh, too.” 

Injury update: Defenseman Brooks Orpik, who has missed the past five games with a lower body injury, sat out practice again on Sunday and will not play in Monday night's game against the Edmonton Oilers. Right wing T.,J. Oshie sat out Sunday's practice with what Barry Trotz called maintenance issues. Oshie is expected to play Monday. Anrdre Burakovsksy, who was a healthy scratch on Saturday, took Oshie's spot on the top line.

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Burakovsky is back in for Game 6

Burakovsky is back in for Game 6

Coach Barry Trotz indicated that Andre Burakovsky’s benching wouldn’t last long.

And it didn’t.

The 23-year-old winger will return to the lineup on Monday night as the Caps look to stave off elimination in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final.

During the morning skate, Burakovsky skated on the third line with Lars Eller and Brett Connolly—a trio that’s enjoyed some success in the past.

It’s been a difficult postseason for Burakovsky, who has not recorded a point in six games. He missed 10 contests after suffering a hand injury in Game 2 of the first round that required minor surgery.

What he found out upon returning was this: coming back from injury in the regular season is hard...and it’s exponentially tougher in the playoffs.

“It’s definitely tough to jump in in the semifinal,” he said. “When you’re out, you just want to get in and help the team and do what you’re good at—score goals and produce.”

“What I realized is that it’s not that easy,” he added. “I really thought I could jump in and just play like I did before I got injured. 

But obviously it didn’t work out as well I thought it would.”  

Burakovsky also said that he’s planning to work with a sports psychologist this summer in an effort to maintain an even keel when things aren’t going as well as he would like. It’s a problem that he said he’s struggled with since his childhood.

Asked what he hopes to see from Burakovsky in Game 6, Coach Barry Trotz kept it simple: offense.

The Caps have scored just two goals in each of the last three games, with Evgeny Kuznetsov contributing 50-percent of that total.

“He’s a guy that’s given us some good offense all through his time here,” Trotz said of Burakovsky. “We think that he can add some of that.”


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5 keys for the Caps to win Game 6 and force a decisive Game 7 against the Lightning

5 keys for the Caps to win Game 6 and force a decisive Game 7 against the Lightning

The more you look at Monday's Game 6 between the Washington Capitals and the Tampa Bay Lightning, the more you realize this game is the most important game of Alex Ovechkin's career.

This is the first time Ovechkin and Co. have made it to the conference finals and it is the first time this postseason in which the Caps face elimination.

Here are the keys for the Caps to staving off elimination and forcing a Game 7:

1. Get off to a better start

It took Tampa Bay just 19 seconds to score in Game 5 and the score was 3-0 nothing before the Capitals really began to show any signs of life. They cannot allow the Lightning to jump all over them in the same way and take the crowd out of the game early.

With the game being in Washington, the Caps will have the crowd on their side. Use it.

The Caps have been at their best this series playing the trap, holding their own blue line and countering against Tampa Bay's aggressive defensemen leading to odd-man breaks. That's a hard gameplan to run if you're playing from behind. Scoring first would go a long way for Washington.

2. Stay out of the penalty box

Washington has given up six power play goals to Tampa Bay on just 15 opportunities in this series. That means the Lightning's power play is producing at a blistering rate of 40-percent. That's an insanely good power play rate and that may be putting it mildly.

So far, the penalty kill has had no answer for how to shut down a Tampa Bay unit that features Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov setting up for one-timers and being quarterbacked by Victor Hedman. That's a formidable cast.

If you can't beat it, then there's only one solution: Stay out of the box.

Despite everything that went wrong in Game 5, the one thing the Caps did right was not give up many penalties. They took only one on the night and even that one was avoidable as Brett Connolly got caught holding Brayden Point trying to get around him to get the puck.

3. Win the top line matchup

The Lightning have found success matching their fourth line against Ovechkin. Of his six points this series, only two of them (one goal, one assist) have come at 5-on-5. That's not good enough.

It's gut check time. The Caps need their best players to be at their best and that means Ovechkin has to win the matchup against Chris Kunitz, Cedric Paquette and Ryan Callahan. In Game 5, Tampa Bay's fourth line actually outscored Ovechkin's line in 5-on-5 play 2-0.

Washington will not win this game if the fourth line outscores Ovechkin's line. It's just that simple.

4. Take advantage of the power play opportunities

The Caps scored at least one power play goal in Game 1 and Game 2, both wins. They have not scored any since and have lost all three games since. They scored on three of seven opportunities in the first two games and zero of seven opportunities in the last three.

Not a coincidence.

Granted, they did not draw any penalties in Game 5, but it seems unlikely the Lightning will stay out of the box for another sixty minutes. At some point, they will take a penalty and when they do, Washington must take advantage.

5. Win the goalie matchup

Not much attention has been paid to Braden Holtby in this series. The Caps are not facing elimination because they have been getting bad goaltending, but when the Lightning needed Andrei Vasilevskiy to steal them a win and up his game to get them back into the series, he responded.

Vasilevskiy has been brilliant the last three games as he has turned aside 100 of the 106 shots he has faced for a .943 save percentage. For the series, Holtby has a save percentage of only .883.

Again, Washington is not down 3-2 in the series because of goaltending. Holtby has faced far fewer shots than Vasilevskiy and has been just about the only thing that has worked against Tampa Bay's lethal power play.

But as one of the team's top players, the Caps need Holtby to step up the way Vasilevskiy has. Game 6 will be about winning by any means necessary. If that means they need a hat trick from Ovechkin so be it. If that means they need Holtby to steal it for them, so be it.

Holtby has to be just as good as Vasilevskiy in Game 6, if not better, for Washington to come out on top.