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Oshie, Chorney, Toews prepare for Sioux reunion

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Oshie, Chorney, Toews prepare for Sioux reunion

One night after facing his former coach at the University of North Dakota, current Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol, for the first time, Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews will butt helmets with a pair of Capitals he suited up with while playing for the Fighting Sioux a decade ago.

For two seasons (2005-07) Toews, T.J. Oshie and Taylor Chorney made up three-fifths of the most dangerous power play in college hockey as members of the University of North Dakota.

Tonight they’ll face each other when the Blackhawks visit the Capitals at Verizon Center (6:30 p.m. pregame, CSN).

Chorney says he saw greatness in Toews even before they were college teammates.

Chorney and Toews were 16-year-old teammates at Shattuck-St. Mary’s prep school, a hockey factory in Faribault, Minn., where Toews racked up 110 points in 64 games.

“When I was at Shattuck I wanted to play well so I could get a scholarship and maybe get drafted,” Chorney said. “For Johnny, his whole life he genuinely wanted to be a Hall of Famer. Not in a stuffy way. That’s been his dream and he’s been going at it at 100 miles an hour.”

Some might say that with three Stanley Cups, a Conn Smythe Trophy and an Olympic gold medal, Toews’ ticket to the Hockey Hall has already been punched. And he’s only 27.

“His work ethic is unbelievable, second to none,” said Oshie, who played two seasons on a line with Toews at North Dakota. “I think that’s why he’s had so much success, because of how much work he puts in away from the rink and at the rink.

“And he’s obviously a great leader as well. He’s the guy that drives the bus for them from an intensity standpoint, so we need to try to shut him down early, but he’s going to keep coming.”

In their two seasons together as linemates Oshie (41 goals, 56 assists) and Toews (40 goals, 45 assists) combined for 102 points in 87 games. Ironically, it was their linemate, left wing Ryan Duncan, who put up the most points in those two seasons (47-46-93), winning the 2007 Hobey Baker Award as the best college player in the nation.

(Duncan, 30, is now playing in Austria, having never played an NHL game.)

Chorney said he remembers the North Dakota power play, which also featured Travis Zajac and Drew Stafford, as one of the best he’d ever seen. Oshie agreed.

“That power play was pretty good,” he recalled. “I remember a lot of tic-tac-toes. They gave me a lot of empty netters, which was nice. It was fun.”

Tonight will mark the 34th game Oshie will line up against Toews but his first in a Capitals uniform. Oshie has five goals and 19 assists in his previous matchups against Chicago. And with both teams coming off shutout losses, Oshie said there will be no shortage of motivation.

“For the most part they stay on their game for the full 60 minutes,” Oshie said. “We’ve got to have a good start, unlike our first couple games, and we’ve got to play a full 60. These guys don’t go away and if they get up they try to get up two and then three.”

The Hawks (2-2-0) are expected to turn to 6-foot-6 backup goaltender Scott Darling, who has a 10-4-0 record in 15 career appearances in the NHL, along with a 1.88 GAA and .938 save percentage. Caps fans will also be getting their first look at Chicago’s 6-foot-8, 238-pound rookie defenseman Viktor Svedberg. 

MORE CAPITALS: Trotz sends urgent message with lineup changes

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5 reasons the Caps beat the Lightning in Game 6

5 reasons the Caps beat the Lightning in Game 6

After losing three straight, the Capitals battled back in Game 6 on Monday. With their 3-0 win, Washington forced the Eastern Conference Final into a decisive Game 7 on Wednesday.

Here is how the Caps did it.

1. Braden Holtby matched Andrei Vasilevskiy save for save

Andrei Vasilevskiy was just as great in this game as he was in the three previous, but one of the major differences in this one was that Holtby was just as good. He may not have been tested as much (Vasilevskiy made 32 saves, Holtby 24), but he was big when the team needed.

In the second period with the scored tied at 0, Holtby made one of the most critical saves perhaps of the entire season when he denied Anthony Cirelli with the toe on a 2-on-1. When the Caps took the lead, Holtby really shut the door in the third period with 10 saves to cap off what was his fifth career playoff shutout and first shutout of the entire season.

2. T.J. Oshie’s timely goal

Over halfway into the game, it looked like it was just going to be one of those nights. Caps fans know it well by now. Washington outplays their opponent, they get chance after chance and develop a whopping advantage in shots, but they run into a hot goalie and a random play suddenly turns into a goal for the other team, game and season over.

Vasilevskiy was on his way to having perhaps his best performance of the series. Considering how he played in the three games prior to Game 6, that’s saying something. The Caps were doing everything right, but he continued to make save after save. Then on the power play in the second period, John Carlson struck the inside of the post, the horn went off and the roar of the crowd gave way to dismay as the referee waved his arms to indicate there was no goal and play continued. Just seconds later, T.J. Oshie gave the Caps the 1-0 lead.

You have to wonder if doubt was starting to creep into the back of the minds of the players when that puck struck the post as they wondered what else they had to do to beat Vasilevskiy. Luckily, that feeling didn’t last long.

3. Special teams

Braydon Coburn’s tripping penalty in the second period gave Washington its only power play of the night and its first since the second period of Game 4. They had to make it count given how well Vasilveskiy was playing and they did.

Washington now has a power play goal in each of their three wins against the Lightning and no power play goals in their three losses. So yeah, it’s significant.

Tampa Bay had two opportunities of their own, but Washington managed to kill off both power plays in the penalty kill’s best performance of the series.

4. Washington’s physical game plan

On paper, the Lightning are better than the Caps in most categories. One area in which Washington has the edge, however, is physical play and it was clear very early that they intended to use that to their advantage in Game 6. Tampa Bay was pushed around and they seemed to struggle to recover.

Ovechkin was a one-man wrecking ball out there hitting everything that moved. The energy he brought with every hit was palpable and both the team and the crowd fed on it.

Washington was credited with 39 hits on the night compared to Tampa Bay’s 19. Ovechkin had four of those as did Nicklas Backstrom while Devante Smith-Pelly contributed five and Tom Wilson and Brooks Orpik each led the team with six.

5. Fourth line dagger

Tampa Bay’s fourth line was the story of Game 5, but Washington’s fourth line sealed the deal on Monday with its third period goal.

Chandler Stephenson beat out an icing call, forcing Braydon Coburn to play the puck along the wall. Jay Beagle picked it up, fed back to Stephenson who backhanded a pass for the perfect setup for Devante Smith-Pelly.

Smith-Pelly scored seven goals in the regular season. He now has four in the playoffs.

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Capitals vs. Lightning Game 7 Eastern Conference Final 2018: Date, time, TV Channel, live stream

Capitals vs. Lightning Game 7 Eastern Conference Final 2018: Date, time, TV Channel, live stream

Game 7.

It's the best phrase in all of hockey, and on Wednesday, May 23, Game 7 of the 2018 NHL Eastern Conference Final between the Capitals and Lightning will go down in Tampa, Fla.

The Capitals' path to Game 7 was less than ordinary. After racing to a 2-0 series lead with back-to-back road wins in Tampa, the Lightning responded with three straight wins, forcing the Capitals' to the brink of the 2017-18 season.

But in Game 6 on Tuesday night, the team put on their best performance of the season, blanking the Lightning and forcing Game 7 at Amalie Arena.

The winner of Game 7 advances to the Stanley Cup Final, where the Vegas Golden Nights await, having defeated the Winnipeg Jets to advance to the championship round in the team's inaugural season.

Game 7 Capitals at Lightning
Date: Wednesday, May 23
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Location: Amalie Arena. Tampa, Fla.
TV Channel: NBCSN 
How To Watch Live StreamingNBC Sports App Live Stream
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (106.7 FM)

WHEN IS GAME 7 OF THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING SERIES?

Game 7 of the Capitals-Lightning 2018 NHL Eastern Conference Final takes place on Wednesday, May 21 at 8:00 p.m. at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla.

WHAT TV CHANNEL IS GAME 7 OF THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING SERIES ON?

The TV broadcast of Game 7 between the Capitals and Lightning is on NBC. Capitals pre- and postgame coverage takes place on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
7:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
8:00 p.m. — Game 7 Capitals vs. Lightning
10:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
11:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime

WHERE CAN I STREAM CAPITALS vs. LIGHTNING GAME 7?

Game 7 of the 2018 NHL Eastern Conference Final between the Capitals and Lightning is available for online stream on the NBC Sports App. Click here for the NBC Sports live stream page.

CAPITALS vs. LIGHTNING GAME 7 OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals digital producer JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.