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Series comeback falls short as Caps fall victim to Penguins once again

Series comeback falls short as Caps fall victim to Penguins once again

Final score: Washington Capitals 0, Pittsburgh Penguins 2

How it happened: After a dominant opening flurry from Washington, both teams settled into an even period as both were held off the scoreboard in the first. The even plan continued in the second until an attempt to clear the puck along the boards by Matt Niskanen backfired as Ian Cole collected it in front of the blue line and started the quick attack ending with a goal for Bryan Rust. Another turnover along the boards by Kevin Shattenkirk turned into a third period goal by Patric Hornqvist. Despite trailing, Washington was able to muster almost no offense in the final frame, finishing with just five shots on goal in the third period.

What it means:  For the second year in a row, the Capitals have been eliminated from the playoffs in the second round by the rival Penguins. Washington has not advanced past the second round of the playoffs since 1998 and now face a lot of tough offseason questions as they have reached the end of general manager Brian MacLellan’s two-year window.

Penguins goal: Bryan Rust from Jake Guentzel and Sidney Crosby at 8:49 in the 2nd. Matt Niskanen tried to play the puck along the boards in the defensive zone, but it was intercepted by Ian Cole who quickly passed it back up to Crosby. Crosby fed Guentzel who showed good patience and waited to hit the trailing Rust. Rust then beat Holtby just over the shoulder for the goal. Caps 0, Penguins 1

Penguins goal: Patrick Hornqvist from Justin Schultz at 4:14 in the 3rd. Braden Holtby tapped a puck along to Kevin Shattenkirk who had more room than he apparently thought because he carelessly flicked the puck along the boards. Schultz won the race for the puck and chopped it up to Hornqvist. Hornqvist tried the hopeful backhand and managed to tuck it off the crossbar and in. Caps 0, Penguins 2

3 Caps stars

1. Braden Holtby: The early series struggles now seem like a distant memory for Holtby as he put together another strong performance on Wednesday. He did absolutely everything he could to keep Washington in this one, but it was not enough.

2. Lars Eller: We know how Barry Trotz's line change benefitted Andre Burkovsky, but Lars Eller has played well too and that continued on Wednesday. He looked confident and his play reflected that.

3. Brooks Orpik: When the Caps had nothing going for them in the third period, Orpik tried to spark the team by dropping the gloves with Scott Wilson. Someone needed to do something to wake up the Caps.

Look ahead: The quest for the Stanley Cup begins again in October.

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Carlson's two goals lead Capitals to sloppy 5-3 win over Calgary

Carlson's two goals lead Capitals to sloppy 5-3 win over Calgary

The Capitals are a perfect 2-0 to start their five-game road trip after a 5-3 win over the Calgary Flames on Tuesday. It was a sleepy game for the Caps who were largely outplayed through the first two periods. A few short bursts of brilliance, however, were enough to ensure Washington never trailed.

Here is how the Caps won.

A gift for Carlson

John Carlson entered the game as the NHL’s leader in points. He is arguably the hottest player in the league. He doesn’t need gifts, but he was gifted a goal by Calgary goalie Cam Talbot early in the second.

After a sleepy first period, the Caps’ came out swinging in the second and Alex Ovechkin nearly connected with Nicklas Backstrom on a pretty passing play on the backdoor. The puck curled around the boards and Carlson stepped up and just fired a hopeful shot on net that seemed to catch Talbot by surprise as it hit the short-side for the goal.

That is a horrific goal that Talbot just should not have given up. If you watch, he actually shifts a little backward after the initial play missed. Perhaps Talbot misjudged where he was in net, but that is an angle he should have been able to easily cut off based on the position of the puck. Instead, he backed up, left the near-side open and Carlson hit it.

The goal extended Carlson’s point streak to a career-high eight games. He would add an empty-net goal to give him 20 points on the season.

Bank shot!

Just over two minutes after Carlson put the Caps on the board, Chandler Stephenson extended the lead to 2-0 with a great play behind the net to pickpocket Talbot.

Talbot went behind the net to corral a dump-in from Brendan Leipsic, but Stephenson never gave up on the play and zipped in behind the net after Talbot. He stole the puck away from Talbot. He was boxed in by the Flames’ netminder and two more Flames skaters so he attempted to center the puck, but it bounced off of defenseman Rasmus Andersson and into the net.

A 10-second response

Overall, this was not a great game for the Caps. They looked sleepy and out of sync, missing numerous easy passes in the offensive zone that ended their offensive opportunities. Two early goals in the second spotted them a 2-0 lead, but Calgary took control and Austin Czarnik tied the game at 2 late in the period. That briefly woke up the Caps and Ovechkin put Washington back on top just 10 seconds after the game was tied.

Calgary won the faceoff after the goal, but Radko Gudas forced a turnover that Backstrom picked up. Two forwards had gone past him in anticipation of entering the offensive zone, a third player was on the ice after getting hit by Gudas, one defenseman stepped to the boards to give T.J. Oshie a shove, but could not recover to stop Backstrom and suddenly Backstrom was in behind four players for a 2-on-1 with Ovechkin. He made the simple backhand pass on the rush and Ovechkin fired the one-timer into the net.

Jakub Vrana’s drive to the net

Michal Kempny fired a stretch pass to launch a breakout. It looked like Travis Hamonic could have grabbed the puck, but he couldn’t control it and left it out for Lars Eller to continue the attack. As Eller took the puck, Jakub Vrana drove hard to the net bringing Noah Hanifin with him and that left Tom Wilson wide open. Eller passed to Wilson who netted the knockout punch.

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Capitals debut Nationals-themed name plates in advance of World Series

Capitals debut Nationals-themed name plates in advance of World Series

The Capitals took to Twitter to share their support for their D.C. family in a unique and fun way.

Prior to Game 1 of the World Series, the Capitals decided to debut Washington Nationals-themed nameplates in their locker room.

 

The red and white nameplates displayed both team's logos. 

The two teams are pretty close. This is not the first time they have shared support for one another.

As the Nationals find themselves on a similar journey to the 2018 Capitals, players like Adam Eaton have said they draw inspiration from their counterparts.

During the NLDS series against the Dodgers, Alexander Ovechkin was in attendance to throw out the first pitch, and a little later the Nationals returned the favor.

The Nationals were invited to Capital One Arena for the game against the New York Rangers on October 18th because they had a night off. Eaton read the starting lines and ace pitcher Max Scherzer was supposed to drop the first puck but instead, threw the Washington Capitals a curveball, dropping the first baseball.

Both teams are on the road. The Nationals will face off against the Astros in Houston, Tuesday night at 8:08 p.m. while the Capitals take on the Flames in Calgary.

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