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Ovechkin too much for Devils in opener

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Ovechkin too much for Devils in opener

Post-game analysis of the Capitals’ season-opening 5-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils Saturday night in front of a sold out Verizon Center:

How it ended: Alex Ovechkin put another clip in his incredible reel of highlights with an end-to-end rush that had heads spinning, most notably the one belonging to Devils defenseman John Moore, who was turned inside out on Ovechkin’s go-ahead goal with 6:33 gone in in the third period. Ovechkin also fed Marcus Johansson at the side of the net for an insurance power-play goal. Matt Niskanen finished it off the Devils with an empty netter with 2:53 to play. The Devils got to within 5-3 on a power-play goal by Mike Cammalleri with 1:21 remaining, but that's how it ended.

How it started: The Caps grabbed a 2-0 lead on goals by Jason Chimera (shorthanded) and Brooks Orpik, but saw the Devils answer with goals by Adam Henrique and Eric Gelinas (power play) just 2:46 apart. Henrique’s goal came just 22 seconds after Orpik gave the Caps a 2-0 lead and it came with the Caps’ fourth line of Brooks Laich, Michael Latta and Sean Collins on the ice. Orpik made a big hit in the neutral zone and no one covered Henrique alone in front.

Play it again, Ovi: Ovechkin’s goal, the 426th of his career, was a thing of beauty. He gathered the puck in his own zone, rumbled down the left wing, passed the puck behind his own skates as he approached Moore, then roofed the puck over the left shoulder of Devils goalie Keith Kinkaid, who joined dozens of other victims on the Alex Ovechkin highlight reel.

Penalty killers: The Caps got some early work on their penalty kill when Evgeny Kuznbetsov (hooking) and Sean Collins (holding) were sent to the box. Trotz used penalty kill forward combinations of Brooks Laich with T.J. Oshie, Jay Beagle with Tom Wilson and Jason Chimera with Justin Williams. The shorthanded defense pairings were Brooks Orpik with John Carlson, and Karl Alzner with Matt Niskanen.

Power players: The Caps’ had a golden chance to take the lead in the second period when they were awarded a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:39. But Devils goalie Keith Kincaid stopped T.J. Oshie on a breakaway and Alex Ovechkin missed the net twice on blasts.

Give him the Norris: Brooks Orpik, sidelined all preseason with a wrist injury, scored on his first shot of the season, stepping into a drop pass from Tom Wilson. The goal was Orpik’s first as a Capital and his first regular season goal since March 16, 2014 against Philadelphia.   

Rough start: Sean Collins took just four shifts in the opening period and was on the ice for a goal by Adam Henrique and in the box for a power-play goal by Eric Gelinas. But he also drew a penalty in the third period and was effective in the final 40 minutes of play.

Wilson knicked up: Caps right wing Tom Wilson took a shot to the back of his left leg with 8:02 remaining in the second period. He retreated to the locker room and came back to play just one shift lasting 18 seconds to end the second period but came out in the third period and played the remainder of the game.

What’s next: The Caps will have the day off on Sunday and hit the ice at 10:30 at Kettler on Monday in preparation for Tuesday night’s visit by Joel Ward and the San Jose Sharks.

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GM Brian MacLellan: Capitals are close to re-signing John Carlson

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GM Brian MacLellan: Capitals are close to re-signing John Carlson

DALLAS—The Caps are “really close” to signing star defenseman John Carlson to a long-term extension, GM Brian MacLellan said Friday night.

“We’re getting closer,” MacLellan said following the first round of the NHL Draft. “Hopefully we can get it done here over the next few days. We’re really close.”

Earlier in the day, the Caps cleared significant space under the salary cap ceiling by trading Philipp Grubauer and Brooks Orpik to Colorado for a second round draft pick (47th overall). 

That space will now be used to lock up Carlson, who could become the best defenseman on the open market if he were to reach it.

MacLellan met with Carlson’s agent, Rick Curran, here on Thursday night.

MacLellan did not divulge any figures, but it’s expected that Carlson’s new contract could come in at eight years and $8 million per—or perhaps a bit more. 

He earned $4 million last season.

Carlson had a career year in 2017-18 and was critical during the Caps' run to the Stanley Cup. He led all defensemen in the regular season with 68 points (15 goals, 53 assists). The 28-year-old also skated a career-high 24:47 per game.

MacLellan has long said that re-signing Carlson was the Caps’ top priority this offseason. And now it looks like that could happen within days, assuming the talks do not hit any snags.

“We’re going to do our best to sign John,” MacLellan said. “We’ve said it all along. We waited until the end of the year. We’ve had discussions. We’re close and hopefully we can close the deal here over the next 24 hours.”

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Capitals go to the WHL again, select defenseman Alex Alexeyev with first-round pick

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Capitals go to the WHL again, select defenseman Alex Alexeyev with first-round pick

The last time the Washington Capitals had a first-round draft pick, they selected a WHL defenseman. They did not go off script on Friday.

With the last pick of the first round, selecting for the first time as defending Stanley Cup champions, the Capitals selected Alexander Alexeyev, a left-shooting, two-way defenseman from St. Petersburg.

Alexeyev, 18, certainly boasts NHL size at 6' 4", 196 pounds. He currently plays for Red Deer in the WHL, a junior league that has become a major pipeline for the Capitals. In his second season with Red Deer, he tallied 37 points in 45 games.

The NHL Central Scouting's rankings list Alexeyev as the 22nd best North American skater of the draft. TSN projects him to be a top-four, two-way defenseman.

Analyst Craig Button described Alexeyev as a "Smart, effective defenceman who moves the puck, plays with a calm and doesn't make things complicated for himself."

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