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Penguins get 3rd win in row, topping Capitals 6-3

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Penguins get 3rd win in row, topping Capitals 6-3

WASHINGTON (AP) Chris Kunitz scored a hat trick in the Pittsburgh Penguins' Super Bowl Sunday visit to the nation's capital, leading a 5-3 win over the Washington Capitals that reflected both teams' fortunes so far in the lockout-shortened season.

Kris Letang, Paul Martin and Matt Cooke also scored, Sidney Crosby had three assists, and Tomas Vokoun made 21 saves against his former team for the Penguins, who have won three straight and four of five to lead the Atlantic Division.

Mike Green, John Carlson and Mike Ribeiro scored for the Capitals - and Carlson's goal was an accident that took a weird carom off a stanchion along the glass. Two-time league MVP Alex Ovechkin, who said before the game that he was somewhat embarrassed to have only three points on the season, contributed a secondary assist on a third-period power-play goal with Washington trailing by three.

Washington has lost seven of nine games to start the season. Hosting the Penguins as a Super Bowl warm-up for the third straight year, the Capitals no longer look like the formidable team that beat Pittsburgh 5-4 in overtime with a hat trick from Ovechkin in 2010 and shut out the Penguins 3-0 a year ago - both feisty games that included punches thrown by Ovechkin.

Ovechkin was overly physical in this game as well, getting a roughing call in the final two minutes.

Under new coach Adam Oates, the Capitals are feeling their way around the ice, especially on defense. Braden Holtby stopped only 20 of 26 shots, allowing Letang and Kunitz to beat him glove side 37 seconds apart in the second period to give the Penguins a 4-2 lead.

Vokoun, who shut out the New York Rangers on Thursday, made a successful return to the Verizon Center. He was signed to be the Capitals' No. 1 goalie last season but hurt his groin and was eclipsed by Holtby during the playoffs, prompting Washington to trade him to Pittsburgh.

Martin scored from the point after Crosby won a faceoff in the Capitals' zone to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead in the first period. Washington tied it less than two minutes later after a nice sequence in which Ribeiro won the puck along the boards and passed it to Wojtek Wolski, who then sent it along to a wide-open Green.

After Cooke made it 2-1, Carlson tied it on a bizarre goal in the second period. The Capitals defenseman was merely trying to dump the puck along the boards, but it rose up and took an odd deflection. Vokoun had already started to retreat behind the net to intercept the puck and tripped trying to change direction to get back to the crease.

Notes: Ovechkin said before the game that the Capitals were in a ``desperate moment.'' He noted that he and other NHL players who spent the lockout playing in Russia should be doing better. ``Right now I'm standing here, I have only three points, and, you know, it kind of embarrass me.'' ... The Capitals played the first of three games without D John Erskine, who was suspended for three games for elbowing Wayne Simmonds in Friday's win over the Philadelphia Flyers. ... Washington had been 12-1-3 in its pervious 16 regular-season meetings vs. Pittsburgh.

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Follow Joseph White on Twitter:http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP

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Caps Top 20 Goals Countdown - Goal 6 - Ovechkin opens Game 7 vs TB with a bang

Caps Top 20 Goals Countdown - Goal 6 - Ovechkin opens Game 7 vs TB with a bang

Always the emotional leader of the Capitals, Alex Ovechkin knew that when he woke up on May 23, 2018, that he had the chance to alter the course of his personal history and help push the Capitals to its first Stanley Cup Final appearance since 1998.

Before the puck dropped on a win-or-go-home Game 7, the determination was painted on Ovechkin’s face and on his first shift in the game just 1:02 into the contest in Tampa Bay, the Capitals captain found the back of the net with a one-timer from the point to put his stamp on the game.

Number 6 on our countdown of the Top 20 Goals of the Stanley Cup run is Ovechkin’s opener in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final which catapulted the Capitals to a 4-0 win on the road.

After a strong backcheck and hit by Tom Wilson at center dislodged the puck from Chris Kunitz, he and Evgeny Kuznetsov turned the puck back towards the Lightning zone with Ovechkin trailing the play up the left wing. A drop pass from Wilson right after he crossed the blue line left Kuznetsov with the space needed to whip the puck across the zone to Ovechkin who wasted no time in firing past an unsuspecting Andrei Vasilevskiy for the opening goal of the pivotal game.

The site of one of Ovechkin’s iconic celebrations, the infamous “hot stick” celebration when the captain tallied his 50th goal of the season in 2009, Tampa has always treated the Great 8 kindly as the top line winger entered the 2018 postseason with 14 goals in 22 regular season games in the city. After the Caps finally clinched their spot back in the Stanley Cup Final, Tampa likely will always have a special place in the hearts of Capitals fans and Ovechkin alike.

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The Flyers almost played with an ineligible player against the Capitals

The Flyers almost played with an ineligible player against the Capitals

Before the Caps took down the Flyers 3-1 Sunday afternoon, referees Tim Peel and Ghislain Hebert huddled at center ice to discuss what appeared to be a mistake on the Flyers roster card.

The Flyers submitted a wrong name on their lineup card, and the referees caught it.

The Flyers listed Phil Varone as part of their lineup when the card should have listed Justin Bailey.

According to Elliotte Friedman's 31 Thoughts, had the refs found the mistake after puck drop, neither Varone nor Bailey would have been eligible to play. "That’s the second time that mistake’s been caught recently," Friedman explained.

"Officials are looking for it."

 

Both Varone and Bailey don't see much ice time. They average under 10 minutes per game and have not cracked 10 points this season.

The rule, listed in the NHL Rulebook for the 2018-19 season as 5.1 and 5.2, addresses which players are deemed eligible and what happens if an ineligible player is caught during the course of play.

Teams must submit a roster, either from their coach or their manager, prior to puck drop, consisting of 18 skaters and two goalies and, if necessary, one non-uniformed player. The referees then look over the roster to make sure everything checks out. If the refs spot a mistake, they must talk to the offending team so they can correct it. The offending team doesn't receive a penalty for the mistake.

Once the game begins, team rosters are locked in. Had the referees noticed Bailey was on the ice after puck drop, Bailey would be deemed an ineligible player for the rest of the game, and the Flyers could not have substituted another player in his place, so they would have been without a forward.

Additionally, if Jakub Voracek's power play goal was scored with Bailey on the ice, it would not have counted, even if Bailey was not involved in the play.

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