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Ovechkin, Backstrom seeking old chemistry

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Ovechkin, Backstrom seeking old chemistry

It could last one shift, one period or the remainder of the Capitals playoff run.

Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom have been together many times in their NHL career but very seldom under Capitals coach Dale Hunter, who is expected to reunite the dynamic duo tonight in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals between the Capitals and New York Rangers.

Ovechkin, Backstrom and Marcus Johansson practiced together at Wednesdays morning skate and will try to create some offensive chemistry tonight at the Verizon Center.

Yeah, I think we have good chemistry, but when I played with Brooks Laich it was a good time for me and for him, I think, Ovechkin said. Right now Ill start playing with Backy, I dont know how long it will go.

Ovechkin has spent most of the playoffs on a line with Laich and either Troy Brouwer or Jason Chimera. Chimera is expected to play on a second line with Laich and Alex Semin, while Brouwer is slated to play on the right side of center Jay Beagle and left wing Matt Hendricks, aptly named the Wolf Pack.

I think we have chemistry, its not a secret, Ovechkin said of Backstrom. He can control the puck in the neutral zone and skate and find me in open spots. Hes a top center in the league.

In 42 games this season Backstrom recorded 14 goals and 30 assists for 44 points and was a minus-4. In 78 games Ovechkin led the Caps with 38 goals and 65 points and was a minus-8.

Im just going to try to get the puck to him, Backstrom said. Me and Marcus are passers on that line. We know he has a good shot and weve just got to make sure hes open and then well try to find him. Well all three go hard to the net and try to get goals.

Dead issue: Ovechkin had no interest in re-hashing the issue of his ice time in Game 2, saying he wants to look ahead to Game 3. He received a playoff career low of 13:36 but scored the game-winning goal and generated seven shots in the 3-2 win in New York.

Well, were winning and thats the most important thing right now, he said. But again, lets talk about the game, lets talk about how were going to play tonight and not talk about what happened last game or two games ago.

Ovechkin acknowledged he would like to be on the ice in different situations but clearly has no interest in making it an issue.

I dont think its time right now to talk about it, he said. Were not concerned about
giving me 30-40 minutes of ice time. Were here to make suggestions on how to make a win. If it takes giving me 13 minutes of ice time and we win the game, Ill take it.

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: A trip to the Stanley Cup Final is on the line

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USA TODAY Sports

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: A trip to the Stanley Cup Final is on the line

The Eastern Conference Final is going the distance!

After losing three straight to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Capitals won Game 6 to force a Game 7 in Tampa Bay. Can the Caps beat the Lightning one more time and advance to the Stanley Cup Final?

JJ Regan, Tarik El-Bashir and special guest cameraman Mike D break it all down.

 

PLEASE NOTE: Due to schedule and time constraints, this podcast was recorded by phone and the audio quality is not up to our usual standards.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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Caps push Lightning around in Game 6 with physical game plan

Caps push Lightning around in Game 6 with physical game plan

As the NHL continues to focus more on speed and skill, the Capitals took a very old-school approach to Game 6 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. From the moment the puck dropped until the clock hit zero, it was clear Washington came into Monday with a very physical game plan.

"It made a big difference," T.J. Oshie said. "I think in these games, everyone’s bringing energy and you kind of want to control that and direct it towards some positive play, some momentum building for your team, and tonight I think we handled that and did that pretty well."

"We just wanted to throw everything we had at them," Stephenson said. "It was a do or die game and we don't want our season to end."

It worked.

The scoresheet officially credited the Caps with 39 hits for the game. The Lightning had only 19. The physical play seemed to wear down Tampa Bay as the game went on.

After an even first period, Washington took a 1-0 lead in the second. Then, very fittingly, a physical fourth line extended that lead to 2-0 in the third to finish the Lightning off.

"All of a sudden now we turn a puck over, you’re back in your end, they’re feeling it, they’re being physical, crowd’s behind them and we’re spending way too much time in our D zone," Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper said. "That’s what hurt us."

What made it so effective was the fact that the entire team bought into it. Alex Ovechkin was certainly the most noticeable player as he threw himself around like a wrecking ball against everyone wearing a white jersey. But it was not just his line. Tom Wilson and Brooks Orpik each led the team with six hits, Devante Smith-Pelly recorded five of his own while Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom both had four.

The Lightning faced a constant barrage from the Caps from every line and defensive pair. There was no respite.

The hits also gave the fans plenty to cheer for.

The Caps were playing an elimination game at home and Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy was standing on his head. Even with the score locked at 0-0 through the first period, the crowd was still very much into the game. There was no apprehension, there was no quiet tension. There was just a loud crowd cheering on its team.

"[The fans] were loud right from the start, which I think we fed off of and wanted to give them something back," Brooks Orpik said. "We didn't get a goal early. I think some of the physical play kind of helped carry that. They were great for us."

Now in the third round of the playoffs after six intense games between the Caps and Lightning, the hope is that Game 6's physical play will continue to take its toll on Tampa Bay heading into Game 7.

"We need to do that every game," Nicklas Backstrom said. "That's our forecheck. Hopefully, we can keep it going here in Game 7."

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