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Photos by Chris Gordon

You might had to contend with hordes of drunk dudebros in green on Saturday night. That’s life around St. Patrick’s Day.

On Sunday afternoon, the Capitals got in the spirit of the holiday. They wore green jerseys, modified versions of the team’s third-line practice sweaters with shamrocks on the shoulders and inside the numbers.

The jerseys will be auctioned off during the game outside section 109. Some of the profits benefiting the Anacostia Watershed Society, which helps clean up the river.

Below, take a look at some of my sweet iPhone shots of the duds. My camera’s memory card, um, failed.

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Nicklas Backstrom to IOC: FedEx Me My Silver Medal

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When the International Olympic Committee banned Nicklas Backstrom from the Sochi gold medal game last month, it seemed doubtful the Swede would receive the sliver medal awarded to the rest of his teammates.

Following an appeal, however, the IOC has relented under pressure. Announcing the news Friday afternoon, they ruled that Backstrom had no intention of taking Zyrtec D as a performance enhancer and decided to award him a silver medal after all.

Following the Capitals’ 4-3 win over the Canucks, Backstrom spoke about the decision for the first time.

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Photo: Rob Carr

In Evgeny Kuznetsov’s first NHL game on Monday, he skated a little over 10 minutes on the fourth line, briefly seeing time on the power play. It was clear the young Russian was an NHL rookie playing on a team he had yet to practice with. Things got better the next day though. In Pittsburgh, Kuznetsov registered nearly 15 minutes of ice time, collecting three shots on goal. If not for a confounding leg save by Marc-Andre Fleury, the 21-year-old Russian would have scored his first NHL goal.

On Friday, Kuznetsov continued the trend. He picked up the first three points of his North American career. The 2010 first round pick collected the first two in just over three minutes, assisting on successive goals by Alex Ovechkin and Tom Wilson in the second period. He added the third on Washington’s go ahead goal in the third period. The Caps won 4-3.

“I hope we win today,” he told 15 members of Washington Capitals press corps gathered around his locker. “That’s first for me.”

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In spite of his reputation as a reckless gambler, Alex Ovechkin was very focused. (Photos by Chris Gordon)

[Ed. Note: We already brought you tons of photos of Caps players looking ridiculous as they dropped fake money at table games during the team’s annual Casino Night. But what about the fan perspective on the event? For that, we naturally turned to the guys that bought red spandex tuxedos on Amazon, the Brouwer Rangers. I’ll let Ranger Nathan take it away.]

Waking up on the morning of your first Caps Casino Night is like waking up on Christmas morning. Except you don’t get to open presents until after you’ve spent the whole day at work.  And you have to wear a suit, not pajamas. Also you pay for all your own presents.

Nevertheless, we awake with great anticipation, and spend much of the day preparing. Ranger Nathan starts researching table games as soon as he arrives at work. Hoping to have a chance to show off some James Bond-level expertise, Ranger Nathan does a quick Google search but ends up just watching a lot of Burt Bacharach videos.

Lots of boring work stuff happens before we rendezvous at Ranger Ryan’s house to get ready. Finally, we arrive at the hotel. As a group of fans piles into the elevator in the parking garage, Mikhail Grabovski and his wife step through the door. Nobody acknowledges them. It’s weird. Though we all recognize him, no one wants to be the first goober to say, “Oh hey you’re Mikhail Grabovski!” Instead, we just do that head nod “what’s up” thing and stand there silently for the whole elevator ride pretending like this scenario is totally normal. Four floors of awkward agony.

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Photos: Chris Gordon

The Capitals held their annual Casino Night on Wednesday, where fans dropped serious cash on live and silent auctions. Caps players couldn’t participate in those auctions, but they were given a bunch of raffle tickets.

One of the items up for grabs: a chance to meet Alex Ovechkin. “It is my dream!” Dmitry Orlov joked as he looked over the raffle items.

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Gambling with Play Money: Caps Casino Night in Photos

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Yep. (Photos by Chris Gordon)

Wednesday night, the Washington Capitals held their fourth annual Casino Night at the Pentagon City Sheraton. Fans had the opportunity blow fake money gambling with their favorite players, as well as dishing out real money on a live auction featuring big-ticket experiences, a silent auction on equipment and memorabilia, and a raffle. The money made from Casino Night will benefit the Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation. The team has raised nearly $1 million on past Casino Nights, and the live auction this year took in over $40,000.

“We did a got of research on craps,” Karl Alzner, who was there with his wife Mandy as well as her mom and grandparents, told me. “The correct throw and the technique and all that.”

“Even though it’s play money it’s still a lot of fun,” Alzner added. “We get to dress up.”

When I talked to Tom Wilson about the night, he had one main takeaway.

“Ovi’s pretty risky,” Wilson said.

Below, take a look at some of my photos from the night.

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Eric Fehr celebrates his goal on Monday. (Photo: Rob Carr)

The Capitals have scored 185 goals this season. Alex Ovechkin has 44 of them. For most of the season, the team has struggled with secondary scoring. Lately, however, some of their complementary players are coming alive.

Troy Brouwer has eight goals in 11 games. Brooks Laich had goals in two straight games coming into Monday. Though Laich has being missing practices and morning skates due to a lingering groin injury, he played great against the Penguins, scoring a goal that was later credited to Nick Backstrom. Laich did register an assist, marking his third straight game with a point.

Monday, the third line of Jason Chimera, Eric Fehr, and Joel Ward provided half of the Capitals’ offense in a 3-2 loss to Pittsburgh. They greatly titled the ice in their favor, scoring the Caps’ first goal early in the game.

“I thought Fehrsie’s line might’ve had the best game they’ve had all year,” head coach Adam Oates said. “You feel it on the bench. You hear the guys talking on the bench. Your job is to try to have the next line follow and keep it going.”

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Kuznetsov skates at Kettler for the first times since signing with the Caps. (Photos by Chris Gordon)

After almost four years, Evgeny Kuznetsov took the ice for the first time in a Washington Capitals uniform on Sunday — albeit a practice jersey. Kuzya, the only player on the ice, did drills with head coach Adam Oates and strength and conditioning coach Mark Nemish, while taking shots on equipment guy and Ovi’s buddy Alexander “Gus” Gusev.

After doing sprints and drills, Kuznetsov left the ice and signed autographs for the adoring public. He then jumped into the Caps conference room where he answered questions for twenty minutes and said at least 19 completely different words in English.

Yes, it’s finally Kuzya Time. I’ve got your photos.

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Photo: Chris Gordon

At Kettler Capitals Iceplex on Sunday morning, a dozen reporters and three photographers watched Evgeny Kuznetsov skate around for 45 minutes. It was eight in the morning and he was the only player on the ice. Fans held up signs welcoming him in Russian and wore his KHL jersey in the stands. The day before, Kuznetsov had signed a two-year entry-level contract with Washington, ending a four year battle to bring him over from the KHL after being drafted 26th overall by the Capitals in 2010.

“My contract is over,” Kuznetsov told reporters gathered in the Kettler conference room. “I’m excited. All is good.”

“Any hockey player wants to play in the NHL, wants to win the Cup,” he added. “It’s my dream to play in the NHL. I’m happy to see you. I’m ready 100 percent. I want to play.”

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Photo: Rob Carr

If the Caps squeak into the playoffs, you might have to thank Karl Alzner. Not for his defense — something a bit lacking on the Caps lately — but his offense. With 10:15 left in an important game against the Phoenix Coyotes, Karl unleashed a wrist shot from the near point, which went through traffic before beating Mike Smith over his right shoulder. Though Washington looked lifeless for the first 50 minutes, that goal ignited an incredible comeback, featuring two goals in 32 seconds and two points in the standings.

“I was excited,” Alzner told reporters after the game. “Everyone seemed really excited. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that it was me who scored it and not a guy who normally scores, but people seemed really up after that. It was the perfect momentum swing and the perfect line to come out right after that. It was the perfect storm for us.”

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