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Oshie, Kuznetsov lead Caps in shootout win over Bruins

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Oshie, Kuznetsov lead Caps in shootout win over Bruins

Post-game analysis of the Caps’ 2-1 shootout victory over the Boston Bruins Friday night at Verizon Center:  

How it happened: The Caps got off to a rough start when they left Loui Eriksson all alone at the side of the net and he put in his own rebound to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead just 4:06 into the game. After that it was the Tuukka Rask show. The Bruins’ veteran goaltender stopped all 15 shots he faced, including point-blank attempts by Justin Williams, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Marcus Johansson. Alex Ovechkin sent the game into overtime when he snapped a Kuznetsov pass through replacement goalie Jeremy Smith with 2:34 remaining in regulation.

Shootout: T.J. Oshie started with a goal, Ryan Spooner was stopped by Braden Holtby, Evgeny Kuznetsov scored again for the Caps and David Krejci was stopped by Holtby, who remained perfect in his last four appearances against the Bruins, refusing to allow a goal.

3-ON-3: The Caps started the 3-on-3 OT with center Evgeny Kuznetsov and defensemen Karl Alzner and John Carlson. Jay Beagle took a hooking penalty with 64 seconds remaining in overtime to give the Bruins a 4-on-3 but Holtby stood tall.  

Power-less: The Caps went 0-for-5 on the power play but generated a ton of chances and significant offensive zone time.

Fight night: Let’s see. Liam O’Brien fought Tyler Randell in the first period, quickly followed by Tom Wilson popping the helmet off Kevan Miller and bloodying his face in another fight. T.J. Oshie got into the act when he accepted a challenge from 6-foot-4, 212-pound Adam McQuaid, who delivered a few head shots to the Caps’ star right wing and was given an instigator and misconduct.  Seconds after that, with the Caps on the power play, Tom Wilson gave Miller a second crack at him and took a few shots to the head at the end of the fight.    

Oshie-rama: T.J. Oshie had a very active fourth preseason game for the Caps. He drew a pair of penalties, collided with Alex Ovechkin in the neutral zone, completed a beautiful spin-a-rama that led to a scoring chance, blocked a shot, and dropped the gloves with McQuaid.

Gotta love Orlov: Caps defenseman Dmitry Orlov threw his patented hip check in the first period and a long and active shift in the second period, blocking a shot and twice clearing the puck.

Split the difference: Derek Roy and Chandler Stephenson split time on a second line with Marcus Johansson and Justin Williams and both saw significant time on the power play but neither player seemed to separate himself from the other as they battle for a roster spot. Roy had one shot in 14:27 of ice time. Stephenson had no shots in 13:40.

[RELATED: Final battle for roster cuts is reaching it's climax]

Gruby in and out: Philipp Grubauer saw just one period of action and allowed one goal on seven shots before giving way to Braden Holtby, who got his first taste of 3-on-3. Holtby, who did not allow a goal against the Bruins in three shutout wins last season was perfect again with 20 saves in regulation and

Caps’ first power-play unit: Marcus Johansson, T.J. Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Alex Ovechkin, John Carlson. Caps’ second unit: Justin Williams, Derek Roy, Chandler Stephenson, Alex Ovechkin, Aaron Ness.  

Healthy scratches: Andre Burakovsky, Jason Chimera, Sean Collins, Stan Galiev, Ryan Stanton, Justin Peters.

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Panthers head coach calls for league to review Ovechkin’s hit to Pysyk

Panthers head coach calls for league to review Ovechkin’s hit to Pysyk

The Florida Panthers played over half of Friday’s game with five defensemen after a hit from Alex Ovechkin ultimately knocked Mark Pysyk out of the game.

Early in the second period, Ovechkin attempted to enter the offensive zone with the puck, but it was swept away at the blue line back to Pysyk. Pysyk quickly chipped the puck away and then was on the receiving end of a hit from Ovechkin.

In real time, the hit did not appear to be a big one. It wasn't even the biggest hit Ovechkin delivered in the game, as in the third period he sent Aleksander Barkov flying with a shoulder hit. But Pysyk went down to the ice after the hit and left the game soon after.

After the game, Florida head coach Bob Boughner did not mince words.

“Pysyk got a high hit to the head,” he said.

When asked if he thought the league should review the hit, Boughner said, “I hope they do because if you see the replay, it's high. It's a head shot. And the league's trying to clamp down on that. Whether there's no call, I don't blame the refs. Maybe they missed it. That happens. But those are the kind of plays that need to be reviewed.”

Based on the replay, it is hard to determine if the principal point of contact was the head. Ovechkin does not launch himself, but does appear to take an upward trajectory into Pysyk. Still, it seems like a hard sell to say Ovechkin was targeting the head.

But the hit did send Pysyk out of the game, and in today’s NHL, when head hits are a big topic of conversation and when a player is injured on a play, the NHL has shown it takes those plays more seriously.

Pysyk returned to the game for one more shift after receiving the hit, but left the game after and did not return.

“Right now we're still getting him checked out, but we'll see more in the morning,” Boughner said.

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Three reasons the Capitals lost to the Panthers

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USA Today Sports

Three reasons the Capitals lost to the Panthers

Friday’s game had a little bit of everything. After spotting the Florida Panthers a 4-1 lead, the Capitals furiously battled back to tie the game at 4, then tied the game at 5 with just 1:25 remaining in regulation to earn an improbable point. The comeback ultimately fell short, however, as the Panthers earned the 6-5 shootout win.

Here are three reasons the Caps lost.

Bad puck management

A disastrous first period saw the Panthers score four goals and the biggest reason for that was the Caps’ puck management. They were sloppy with the puck leading to a number of costly turnovers, and Florida took advantage.

A good illustration of this game with Washington already trailing 2-1: Jakub Vrana made a lazy pass in the defensive zone that was easily intercepted by Jonathan Huberdeau, who forced a really nice save from Braden Holtby.

Whew, bullet dodged. Actually, not so fast.

Brett Connolly won the resulting faceoff, but Michal Kempny attempted a backhanded pass behind the net that was easily stolen away by Vincent Trocheck. Florida went tic-tac-toe with Trocheck to Huberdeau to Colton Sceviour who finished off the play for the goal.

No control in front of the net

Trocheck scored a rebound goal from the slot that bounced off of Lars Eller and into the net. Evgenii Dadonov scored from the slot on the power play. Sceviour scored from the high-slot after what was a generous pass from Huberdeau who looked like he could have scored from closer in…from the slot. Jared McCann pounced on a loose puck in the slot to beat a sprawling Holtby and Huberdeau scored off a rebound right in front of Holtby.

See a pattern?

The Panthers had complete control in front of the Caps’ net and all five of their goals came from in close.

Penalties

The Caps had a pretty good start to the game, but that was derailed by a Jakub Vrana penalty just 6:10 into the game. Evgeny Kuznetsov was called for hooking about 10 minutes later and Dadonov scored to put Florida up 2-1.

Despite the penalties and going down 4-1 in the first, the Caps battled back to a 4-4 tie in the second. Then the penalties popped up again.

Alex Ovechkin was called for interference on Aaron Ekblad late in the period. It was a tough call as the puck as was at Ekblad’s feet, but Ovechkin made no attempt to play the loose puck at all and simply hit Ekblad, drawing an interference call. Less than a minute later, the Caps were called for too many men giving Florida 1:15 of a two-man advantage to work with and Huberdeau scored the go-ahead goal.

After three-straight goals, the Caps’ penalties completely derailed them and swept momentum back in the Panthers’ favor.

But wait, there’s more.

With the time ticking away on the too many men penalty, Kuznetsov was tossed out of the faceoff dot. He argued with the linesman and apparently argued a bit too hard because the linesman went to the referee and Kuznetsov was booked for unsportsmanlike conduct giving Florida another 10 seconds of 5-on-3.

Despite all of that, the Caps still managed to tie the game with just 1:25 remaining in the game. Matt Niskanen, however, took a penalty with just 23 seconds left. With a 4-on-3 power play to start overtime, 

Overall, Washington gave the Panthers seven power play opportunities including two 5-on-3s, gave up two goals on the man advantage and completely killed their own momentum.

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