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Will newly signed Grubauer back up Holtby?


Will newly signed Grubauer back up Holtby?

While Caps fans anxiously await the signing of a restricted free agent goaltender of another name, the Capitals announced Monday they have re-signed Philipp Grubauer to a one-way, two-year, $1.5 million contract.

Grubauer will earn $650,000 during the 2015-16 season and $850,000 in 2016-17. The significance of the deal is that it is a one-way contract, which means Grubauer will be paid an NHL salary whether he plays for the Capitals or the AHL Hershey Bears.

If the Caps plan on promoting Grubauer to the NHL next season as a backup to Braden Holtby, and Monday’s signing indicates they do, the club will need to make a decision on backup Justin Peters, who has one year remaining on a one-way, two-year contract that will pay him $950,000 next season.

To make room for Grubauer the Caps could try to trade Peters prior to or during the NHL draft June 26-27 in Sunrise, Fla. Peters, 28, appeared in just 12 games for the Caps this season, recording a 3-6-1 record with a 3.25 GAA and .881 save percentage.

The Caps could also assign Peters to the Bears and use him in a backup role for Pheonix Copley, who is coming off a strong rookie season in the AHL with a 17-4-3 record, 2.17 GAA and .925 SP.  

[RELATED Report: Backstrom's rehab could last 5 months

Meanwhile, negotiations between the Caps and Holtby are continuing. Holtby’s agent, David Kaye, said last week that he has had contracts talks with Caps general manager Brian MacLellan, who told that signing Holtby is a priority in light of the number of UFAs that remain unsigned by the Caps.

Grubauer, 23, has appeared in 20 NHL games with the Capitals, posting a 7-6-5 record with a 2.44 GAA and a .924 save percentage. Selected by the Capitals in the fourth round [112th overall] in the 2010 draft, Grubauer made his NHL playoff debut on April 17 in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, stopping 18 shots to earn his first career playoff win.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Grubauer is the fifth rookie goaltender in Capitals history to pick up a win in his playoff debut the seventh rookie goaltender to start a playoff game in franchise history, joining Holtby (2011), Michal Neuvirth (2010), Semyon Varlamov (2008, 2009), Jim Carey (1994), Byron Dafoe (1993) and Bob Mason (1986). In addition, Grubauer is the first German-born goaltender to start a playoff game in NHL history.

Grubauer posted a 27-17-5 record with six shutouts, a 2.30 GAA and a .921 save percentage in 49 games with Hershey (AHL) this season. He ranked third in the AHL in wins, tied for third in shutouts, 10th in goals-against average and tied for 10th in save percentage. The Rosenheim, Germany, native was selected to represent the Eastern Conference at the 2015 AHL All-Star Classic in Utica, N.Y, and won the top goaltender award at the AHL All-Star Classic skills competition. Grubauer has registered a 55-39-9 record with 11 shutouts, a 2.37 GAA and a .919 save percentage in 105 career AHL games.


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Another Ovechkin hat trick, another Capitals win

Another Ovechkin hat trick, another Capitals win

This is getting a little silly. 

Alex Ovechkin, at age 33, matched the longest point-scoring streak of his career and recorded his second hat trick in a row. What else is there to say? 

The Capitals beat the Carolina Hurricanes 6-5 in a shootout in Raleigh on Friday night. They rallied from 4-1 down to beat a Metropolitan Division rival and have now won 12 of their past 15 games. They’re rolling. 

But all you can talk about after these games is Ovechkin, who now has 28 goals in 31 games to lead the NHL. He’ll cool off eventually. But there’s no sign of that happening any time soon. Ovechkin has a five-goal lead over Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine. He is seventh overall in points with 42. 

Ovechkin is the 18th different player since 1943-44 to score at least 28 goals in his team's first 31 games, and third to do so since 1993-94. The others: Jaromir Jagr in 1995-96 (28 goals) and 1996-97 (30 goals) and Mario Lemieux in 1995-96 (29 goals). 

Only 14 players have recorded consecutive hat tricks multiple times. Ovechkin is now one of them. He leads all active players with 22 hat tricks and just tied Teemu Selanne for 11th all time. 

Ovechkin would tie Bengt Gustafsson for fifth-longest point streak in team history if he has a point in Saturday’s game against Buffalo. The numbers almost become numbing.

He’s leading the way for a team five points clear of second-place Columbus in the Metropolitan Division. The Caps are also seven ahead of third-place Pittsburgh. But Ovechkin isn’t the only reason. 

On a night where Braden Holtby struggled, including the gaffe behind the net trying a clear that led to Carolina tying the game at 13:48 of the third period in a 5-4 game, others produced. Tom Wilson scored again. His goal at 12:37 of the second period started the comeback from 4-1 down.

Give the fourth line credit. The trio of Nic Dowd, Travis Boyd and Dmitrij Jaskin is a factor almost every night. They played their fourth game together in a row and Boyd tipped home the goal that cut the deficit to 4-3. In this stretch Dowd has five assists, including three against the Hurricanes. Boyd has five points (three goals, two assists) and Jaskin is the physical moral compass of the line. He has a goal and an assist. Overall, Dowd has 10 points in his past 10 games (three goals, seven assists).

John Carlson also had three assists, including the primary on Boyd’s goal and then Ovechkin’s power-play goal at 9:49 of the third period. He’s up to 35 points (five goals, 30 assists) and well on his way to passing last year’s career-best 68. He is again quietly tied with Ottawa’s Thomas Chabot for most points by a defenseman this season.   


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Four reasons the Capitals beat the Hurricanes, 6-5, in a shootout

Four reasons the Capitals beat the Hurricanes, 6-5, in a shootout

Alex Ovechkin scored his second hat trick in as many games to help lead the Capitals past a 4-1 deficit and to a 6-5 shootout victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday. Jakub Vrana scored the shootout winner in the sixth round on his first career shootout attempt. The Caps extended their win streak to four while Ovechkin extended his point streak to 13 games.

Here are 4 reasons why the Caps won.

Alex Ovechkin

What can you even say about the Great 8 at this point?

Ovechkin was having a special season already before Friday’s game, but he took it to another level in Carolina as he netted three goals. You read that right, Ovechkin now has consecutive hat tricks.

Carolina jumped out to an early lead less than one minute into the game, but Ovechkin erased that lead less than four minutes later. Jonas Siegenthaler had the puck at the blue line and Ovechkin turned to face him and lifted the stick, waiting for the one-timer. Siegenthaler fed him the puck and Ovechkin blew it past goalie Scott Darling to tie the game at one.

Ovechkin added another goal in the second period as Siegenthaler opened up some room for him with a hip-check to Dougie Hamilton that drew the ire of Carolina head coach Rod Brind’Amour who wanted an interference call. With room to work, Ovechkin skated in, faked the slap shot, waited again, then wristed the shot through traffic and through Darling.

The third goal came in typical Ovechkin fashion as he fired a one-timer from the office in the third period to put the Caps up 5-4.

With the hat trick, Ovechkin extended his point streak to 13 games, tied for the best streak of his career. He has 16 goals and 22 points during that stretch.

Tom Wilson cannot be stopped

Injuries are always unfortunate whenever they happen to any player, but it really stunk to see Wilson get injured in Vegas considering he already missed the first 16 games of the season and because he was playing so well. He made his return to the lineup on Friday and picked up right where he left off with a goal in the second period, his ninth of the season.

The goal was a great second chance effort as Wilson dug a loose puck out of the crease and fired the puck as he drifted backwards over a helpless Darling.

Wilson now has nine goals and 15 points in just 12 games.

Travis Boyd's three-game goal streak

Boyd had some lousy luck at the start of the season with a lower-body injury that delayed his start to the season. He’s certainly making up for lost time now.

Boyd scored his first career NHL goal on Saturday, scored his second career goal on Tuesday and scored his third career goal Friday to tie the game at four in the second. Boyd deflected a shot under the glove of Darling for his third goal in as many games.

A second-period rally

Washington gave up two power play goals in a span of 2:02 in the second period that put the Caps down 4-1. At that point, it looked like the Hurricanes would cruise to an easy win, but Washington had other ideas.

Wilson pulled the Caps within two midway through the second, Ovechkin scored about five minutes later and Boyd struck less than a minute after that as Washington pulled even with a stunned Carolina team before the second period was even over.