Photo credit: Nick Wass

Braden Holtby is that good. He has been the best goalie of the playoffs, posting a .951 save percentage through 11 games. But on Sunday night, the New York Rangers offense finally broke through. They jumped out to a 4-1 lead before the Capitals almost pulled off an unbelievable comeback. For the first time this postseason, we saw Holtby crack. Washington’s faith in him, however, is unshaken. They were not interested in talking about Henrik Lundqvist, who turned aside 42 shots in Washington’s one-goal defeat.

“Our goalie’s better,” Evgeny Kuznetsov, defiant in his postgame media scrum, said. “I don’t know what you want to listen from my mouth, but our goalie’s better.”

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Photo credit: Bruce Bennett

Alex Ovechkin has never made it past the second round of the playoffs. It’s a trite fact, but unavoidable. He’s been in the NHL since 2005, with his window as a primary goal-scorer closing. In 10 years, he has yet to win a Stanley Cup. Some core players around him, like Mike Green, are likely to leave this summer or within the next few years. This may be Ovechkin’s best chance to win a Cup as the undisputed leader of the Washington Capitals. Ovechkin seems to know that. In this year’s Division Final against the Rangers, DC’s captain has put on an astonishing display of talent and dedication, nearly winning games for the Capitals off his play alone. On Saturday, he came up short, but it was another immortal individual performance.

“He’s a force,” coach Barry Trotz said. “No question.”

Midway through the third period, Washington was down 3-1, having just given up a crushing goal to Rangers forward Derick Brassard. Just 90 seconds before Rangers fans were to begin their eight-minute mark “Ovi Sucks! Ovi Sucks! Ovi Sucks!” onslaught, Ovechkin bumbled down the ice with three Rangers on him. He knifed straight through Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh, New York’s top defenders, as the two hopelessly whacked at Ovi. Falling to his knees, he let off a perfectly placed wrist shot that went top shelf on Henrik Lundqvist. It was a goal that was nearly impossible to imagine another player in the NHL scoring. It was utter brilliance, under immense pressure, on a huge stage. Save for the cheers of Capitals players, MSG fell silent.

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He scored while falling like this. Really.

Holy hell. In game two, Alex Ovechkin scored one of the greatest goals of his career. Skating into the New York Rangers’ zone, Ovechkin skates through two defenders. Then as he’s falling down to the ice, the Russian machine rips a shot to the top left corner past future Hall of Fame goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.

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Ward smiling after Derek Stepan tries punching him.

The Washington Capitals won game one at Madison Square Garden in surprisingly easy fashion– though it took a last-second goal to win. The first twenty minutes of game two have been way different.

But I’m an optimist, so let’s focus on the awesome things that happened in the first period first.

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Photo: Jared Sibler

The Capitals take a 1-nothing lead into the intermission thanks to Alex Ovechkin’s latest mindblowing goal.

In a late-period power play (Jay Beagle was held by Dom Moore), Alex Ovechkin gained the zone. As soon as he hit the face-off circle, Ovi loosed an uncanny dart.

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Photo credit: Jared Silber

So, it’s the Rangers again. For the fifth time in seven seasons, the Washington Capitals will square off against the folks from Madison Square Garden in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. These series have produced signature moments in Capitals history, such as Sergei Fedorov‘s game seven winner in 2009, and crushing defeats, like when the Rangers outlasted the Capitals by just one goal in game seven of the second round in 2012, booking a spot in the Eastern Conference Final. But, as is their pattern this year, the Washington Capitals will tell you this team is different. They don’t pay attention to the past.

“All that old stuff, get rid of it,” head coach Barry Trotz, in his first year with the Capitals, said. “Let’s look to a new era. Let’s build something.”

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Henrik Lundqvist Squirts Sidney Crosby (Video)


The same day Boston Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton was fined for squirting his water bottle at P.K. Subban, New York Rangers goaltender and male model Henrik Lunqvist also got naughty with his Gatorade bottle. The recipient of the liquid hate this time was soon-to-be-named MVP Sidney Crosby, so this highlight goes to 11.

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Photo: @ErikKarlsson65

On Friday, we were treated to amazing photos of Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson riding bicycles to their games. In suits.

Now, well, Johansson is still pedaling, but he’s also pulling Swedish goaltender and forever-Capitals-rival Henrik Lundqvist around the Olympic Village. This seems dangerous, no?

Team Sweden defenseman Erik Karlsson documented the joy ride and even chirped The King on Twitter.

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Phillip Grubauer to Make 6th Start in 9 Games


Photo credit: Bruce Bennett

For the seventh time in nine games, Philipp Grubauer will be in net for the Washington Capitals, his sixth start during that span. That means Braden Holtby, the Caps’ savior for the first two months of the season, will be watching from the bench once again. Michal Neuvirth continues to remain in limbo.

“He’s only played a couple games but I feel comfortable with him right now,” head coach Adam Oates said of Grubauer after the morning skate.

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Mikhail Grabovski Explains His Shootout Goal


Photo credit: John Minchillo

Late in the second period of Sunday’s game, Washington Capitals center Mikhail Grabovski earned a penalty shot after getting hooked by Ryan McDonagh on a breakaway. Instead of getting fancy with New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, Grabo raised up his stick towards the Madison Square Garden roof and fired a slap shot into the top corner of the net.

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