Photo: Doug Pensinger

The Washington Capitals played their best game of the postseason in Game Three of the Second Round, firing 49 shots at Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray. After allowing three unlucky goals, two off deflections and one off a tip-in in the crease, the Capitals pummeled Pittsburgh with 21 shots on goal in the third period, scoring twice and nearly converting on a myriad of scoring chances in the final minutes. After the Capitals mustered just 10 shots through the first 40 minutes of Game Two, Nicklas Backstrom was angry with how his team played. But speaking after Monday’s loss, which put the Capitals down 2-1 in the series, he was far more confident in his team.

“We had more shots tonight than we had last game, so that’s a good thing,” Backstrom said after Game Three. “It’s a seven game series and I think it’s so important that you take something positive even if you lose. I thought we played right.”

The message was the same throughout the Capitals locker room.

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Alex Ovechkin Scores On Impossibly Fast Shot


Coming into tonight’s game, Alex Ovechkin had been held goalless for the last five playoff games. According to CSN’s Rob Carlin, Ovechkin had not gone more than six games all season without scoring.

I can report that streak remains intact.

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Photo: Rob Carr

The Washington Capitals’ power play has operated in the same way for years under a myriad of coaches. It features a 1-3-1 setup. The main weapon is Alex Ovechkin, who scored 19 of his 50 goals on the man-advantage in the regular season. Since 2011, it’s been one of the league’s top five units. Everyone knows what’s coming; they just can’t stop it.

In their first round series against the Philadelphia Flyers, the Capitals power play was key as the team jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, converting on eight of 17 man-advantage opportunities, despite the Capitals often getting outplayed at even strength.

“Our power play is successful because everybody is on the same page, everybody knows what they have to do,” Ovechkin said after Saturday’s morning skate. “If they take me away, Carly’s open or Osh or Willy or Kuzy or Backy. It’s hard to stop. If I have a chance to shoot the puck I will, but I’ll take a guy with me to go to the goal line or something.”

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In Alex Ovechkin’s opening shifts, he often likes to make his presence felt. Game One of Round Two was no exception.

Thirteen seconds after puck drop, Ovechkin railed Trevor Daley, knocking the defenseman into the boards. Daley then fell over like a bowling pin.

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Before the Caps-Pens series, NHL.com’s Dan Rosen sat down with Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky and asked him about the game’s two biggest superstars, Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby. The captains will play against each other in the postseason for the first time since 2009. The Penguins won that series in seven games.

“Both guys love the microscope and love being under pressure, and both guys seem to elevate their game when they play against each other,” Gretzky told NHL.com’s Dan Rosen. “But that’s natural. Everybody has a lot of pride as an athlete and when you’re an elite athlete and you play head to head against a guy who is your peer, there is more of a motivation factor. I anticipate both players raising their game to another level.”

Gretzky also addressed Ovechkin’s legacy. While the Russian machine has managed to win the Richard Trophy six times and be a four-time MVP, Ovechkin has not won the Stanley Cup in his 10-year NHL career, never making it past the second round of the playoffs.

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Alex Ovechkin is one of the best hockey players in the world because of his size, conditioning, and talent, but Ovechkin’s intense desire to win is just as important. Capitals fans have seen Ovechkin’s passion ever since his first goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2005. As he’s gotten older, Ovechkin’s enthusiasm has grown to include his teammates’ accomplishments as well.

Sunday afternoon at Wells Fargo Center gave us another great example of Ovi reveling in his allies’ victories. After Nicklas Backstrom scored in the second period to give the Caps a 1-0 lead, Ovechkin celebrated with a hop and a running man. Like Ovi was literally sprinting on a slippery surface with skate blades.

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The Capitals came out flying in the first period, and their captain led the way. Alex Ovechkin levied five huge hits in 6:02 of ice time. Thirty-one percent of the game’s first period hits were from the Russian machine alone.

His hardest body bam of the period was on Flyers center Ryan White. As White reeled in a loose puck along the boards, Ovechkin nailed him in the neutral zone. Ovechkin hit White so hard, the dude’s helmet spun around and covered his face.

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Ever since the playoffs started, TJ Oshie has been using a new Bauer Supreme 1S stick, migrating over from the Warrior brand. But it’s not just any Bauer twig. Oshie has been using one of Alex Ovechkin’s sticks from his personal collection.

I know this because RMNB reader @labattadm sent us a photo of the Capitals stick rack from Game One.

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Photo: Len Redkoles

Monday night during Game Three, Alex Ovechkin scored two goals and tallied an assist on a John Carlson power play marker. The three points gave Ovechkin 74 in his postseason career, giving the Great Eight sole possession of the franchise lead. Ovechkin, who now owns almost every major Capitals record, has two more postseason points than the previous record-holder, Dale Hunter.

Hunter, a 19-year veteran and a successful junior hockey league bench boss, coached Ovechkin during the 2011-12 season. He also is the only Capitals captain to take the team to the Stanley Cup Finals.

This record must have meant a lot to Ovechkin, right?

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