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Prospect report: Samsonov leads Russia to bronze medal

Prospect report: Samsonov leads Russia to bronze medal

Hershey update: 18-8-7-2, 4th in the Atlantic Division. Last week: 0-1-2-0

Liam O’Brien and Paul Carey were reassigned to Hershey on Tuesday. O’Brien was originally called up to the NHL on Friday as insurance as the Caps began a two-game road trip. That insurance turned out to be necessary as T.J. Oshie missed Monday’s game with an upper-body injury. O'Brien played Monday against Montreal and recorded 6:08 of ice time.

With 18 points this season in Hershey, O’Brien has already surpassed his 16-point total from last year.

Travis Boyd will be joining teammate Chris Bourque in the AHL All-Star game. This is his first selection. Boyd is the Bears’ leading scorer with 31 points this season.

The All-Star game will be held in Lehigh Valley on Jan. 29-30.

Zach Sanford scored two goals on Sunday in Hershey’s overtime loss to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. You can watch highlights of the game here:

One thing to notice about Sanford is that a lot of his highlights don’t involve tons of stickhandling or a dynamic individual effort. He takes a pass, he shoots, he scores. That’s not a knock on his abilities in any way. One of Sanford’s best attributes is his positioning. It’s something I have always loved about his game. Even when he doesn’t have the puck, he always knows where to go. Both of his goals reflect that. He's in a great position where all he has to do is finish the play.

On the first, he positioned himself on the far-side of the net, setting himself up for a shot in which the goalie would immediately be out of position. It was a difficult angle to make, but he was able to nail the shot. On the second, Sanford positions himself in the slot for the easy shot.

Those kinds of instincts can be hard to teach.

Riley Barber appears to be nearing his return as his status has been upgraded to week-to-week. Initial projections after the injury are that he would return sometime in January. The latest upgrade to his status seems to indicate he remains on pace.

RELATED: Carlson leaves Thursday's practice early with injury

Other prospect notes:

Ilya Samsonov helped lead Team Russia to a bronze medal in the IIHF World Junior Championship with a 38-save performance against Sweden. His performance earned him some high praise from Swedish forward Rasmus Asplund who said, “Samsonov is a great goalie. He can win matches for Russia, like he did today. We had a lot of chances, but we couldn’t convert them. He’s amazing. He’s going to be in the NHL pretty soon, I think.”

Samsonov finished the tournament with a 2.11 GAA and .930 save percentage, was named to the all-tournament team and was named the top goalie of the tournament.

Defenseman Connor Hobbs was named the third star in Regina’s 6-2 win on Fridayin the WHL. He recorded three assists in the game.

Hobbs continues to impress with both his play on both ends of the ice. He showed great stickhandling moves on his first assist as he skated through pressure in the neutral zone and carries the puck past the blue line before passing it off. What you don’t see as much of is his defensive acumen. Those skills don’t tend to translate well on highlight videos, but you do get a glimpse of it in his third assist as he sets up the rush with a good steal in the neutral zone.

The South Carolina Stingrays saw a seven-game win streak snapped on Wednesday, but it was still a good week for Tim McGauley who scored his first professional goal in Saturday’s win over Greenville.

MORE CAPITALS: Prediction recap: Ovechkin did not keep anyone waiting

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Capitals hosting Rock The Rink skate and watch parties around DMV

Capitals hosting Rock The Rink skate and watch parties around DMV

The Capitals may not be participating in Stadium Series this year, but the team is embracing outdoor hockey around Washington for spirited game day fun.

The Caps are hosting Rock The Rink skates at The Wharf, Penatgon Row, Rockville Town Square and The Avenue at White Marsh on select game days from January to March 2020. Fans attending these events can wear Capitals jerseys or gear to get either $5 off admission or free skate rentals.

The Wharf

Jan. 18 at 1 p.m., Jan. 31 at 6 p.m., and Feb 17. at 1 p.m.

Transit Pier will boast a Capitals-paneled ice rink with an ice resurfacer, trivia contests, giveaways, along with a DJ. The Capitals Campire will also boast Adirondack chairs around a fire to roast marshmallows for smores in front of a 14-foot jumbotron screen to watch the Capitals games. 

Pentagon Row

Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. and March 9 at 6 p.m.

These skates will feature Slapshot, giveaways, a DJ and Capitals-centic specials at local restaurants. The Caps games will also be on at surrounding bars. 

The Avenue at White March

Feb. 7 at 6 p.m.

This event will feature Slapshot, giveaways, a DJ and Capitals-centic specials at local restaurants.

Rockville Town Square

Jan. 31 at 5:30 p.m. and March 5 at 6 p.m.

In addition to the above fun, Rockville native and Capitals hockey ambassador Haley Skarupa will be there on Jan. 31. You can watch the Capitals game at local bars as well. 

Fans attending these events or using local outdoor rinks this season are encouraged to post about it on social media by tagging @capitals and using the hashtag #RockTheRink to enter themselves for a chance to win prizes.

Caps slept through the first 40 minutes, they did not give Holtby much help though he was bad in his own right and Vrana sure did show something with the game-winning goal.

As for no penalties...not so much.

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Caps pull off inexplicable comeback win with five-goal third period

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Caps pull off inexplicable comeback win with five-goal third period

Down 4-1, the Capitals scored five goals in the third period for the incredible 6-4 comeback win over the New York Islanders on Saturday. Alex Ovechkin scored a hat trick pulling him in a tie with Steve Yzerman for ninth all-time in goals.

Here is how the Caps won.

Ovechkin

Ovechkin was hot coming in with five goals in his past two games. He scored midway through the first period, getting a great pass in stride from Nicklas Backstrom to launch him behind the defense. Just as the defense closed in he fired a wrister past Semyon Varlamov to make it 1-0.

There is...pretty much nothing positive to say after that until the third period. There was a great 5-on-3 penalty kill, but it was essentially negated as they allowed a goal soon after. The Islanders built a 4-1 lead through 40 minutes and it looked all but over.

But after Carl Hagelin made it 4-2, Ovechkin pulled the Caps to within one, pulling the vintage back-to-front Ovechkin curl-and-drag before passing to the front where the puck deflected off the boot of Ryan Pulock and in.

After Jakub Vrana made it 5-4, Ovechkin added the empty-netter for the knockout punch.

With three goals, Ovechkin now has 34 on the season. He passed Mario Lemieux and tied Steve Yzerman for ninth all-time in goals. Incredibly, this is the first time in his career Ovechkin has three straight multi-goal games.

Motivation

Just what exactly lit the fire under the Caps butts for that third period will probably be a talking point after the game. Was it Devon Toews doing the bird celebration after he scored to make it 4-1? Was it pulling Braden Holtby and starting Ilya Samsonov in the third period? Was it something Todd Reirden or one of the players said?

Whatever it was, it was a different Caps team that took the ice for the third period.

Hagelin's turnaround

As great as Ovechkin's performance was -- and it was epic -- it might not happen without the Carl Hagelin's early third-period tally.

The comeback was sparked by Hagelin's goal that came less than three minutes into the final frame. A great pass by Richard Panik set Hagelin up on the doorstep and he hit it home.

That goal made it 4-2 and a two-goal deficit seems a lot less daunting than a three-goal one.

Shaky Varlamov

Once Ovechkin made it 4-3, you could smell the blood in the water. Washington had gotten to Varlamov and the flood gates were open.

Dmitry Orlov took the puck up to the top of the faceoff circle and fired a slap shot that Wilson managed to get a stick to and deflected it through Varlamov to tie the game.

About three minutes later, Vrana intercepted a pass and fired a quick shot to beat Varlamov far-side for the 5-4 lead.

Varlamov faced 10 shots in the third period and allowed four goals. The fifth came on an empty net.

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