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Washington Capitals center Jay Beagle played great in Game One of the Second Round against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The fourth liner skated 15 minutes and 17 seconds, topping Washington’s third line in TOI. He and partners Daniel Winnik and Tom Wilson were hard on the forecheck, forcing turnovers and tiring out Pittsburgh’s forwards. Beagle also won 63 percent of his faceoffs, including some key ones against Evgeni Malkin, whom he bested 75 percent of the time.

After the game, Beagle and I exchanged our usual fist bump for a job well done, but no one in the locker room wanted to ask him about about his performance. Instead, Beagle’s adventures with Kris Letang’s stick, which got stuck between his helmet and visor, was the topic du jour for the national media assembled at Verizon Center.

“I definitely knew there was a stick in my visor,” Beagle said. “I just couldn’t believe that it was stuck. I tried to pull it a couple times just so I could continue with the play, but it wouldn’t come out. Then I figured I might as well get to the bench, I’m useless right now. I can’t see a thing.”

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beagle-stick

NHL stars famously swap sticks with each other. This is not what they meant.

Late in the second period, Kris Letang’s stick got jammed in Jay Beagle’s visor. It did not want to come out.

He looked like a pretty hockey unicorn. Or a pretty hockey narwhal!

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ClaudeGirouxElsaGame3

Photo: Elsa

At first, it all went according to plan. The house lights went down at exactly 7 PM. The arena lit up in a sea of orange and white lights glimmering off commemorative wristbands. A tribute to the recently deceased Ed Snider, who founded the Flyers in 1967 and had owned the team ever since, played on the big screen. All of Wells Fargo Center, from the seating bowl to the benches to the press box, applauded a great owner. Then Kate Smith and Lauren Hart sang their trademark “God Bless America” duet. Within a minute of puck drop, the Flyers had the first goal, wildly sliding into the boards in celebration. The roar from the fans was booming. This was their night for their owner.

“Ed was a dynamic visionary who turned Philadelphia into one of the great hockey towns in the world,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said before the game in a heartfelt press conference. “He believed in excellence — and in this team, the Flyers.”

But in the end, that team let him down.

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PenaltyKillGameTwoRobCarr

Photo: Rob Carr

The Capitals penalty kill was the second-best unit in the league during the regular season, killing 85.2 percent of opponents’ chances. Yet on special teams, it was overshadowed by the power play, which finished fifth. While the PK doesn’t provide between-the-legs passes or booming one-timers, it has kept the Capitals in control of their first-round series against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Washington’s penalty kill is a perfect eight for eight. Going back to the last five games of the regular season, the opponents’ power plays have been stopped 21 times in a row. Despite outshooting the Capitals 61-54 overall in the first two games, the Flyers have scored just one goal. Washington has six, including three power-play goals, good for a 2-0 series lead.

“We got our butts on the line,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said after Saturday’s Game Two loss.

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Photo: Patrick McDermott

Jay Beagle scored his fourth career playoff goal, icing the game for the Caps late in the third period. Beags drove the center lane and nailed the top corner of the net like a 50-goal scorer, but I need to point out two crucial plays before that goal happened.

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Photo: Patrick Smith

With everything locked up and only days to wait until their first round playoff matchup with the Philadelphia Flyers, the Capitals experienced injury scares at the worst time of the season.

First, Jay Beagle went down after blocking a shot with his left ankle during Saturday’s win over St. Louis. Beagle was scratched for Sunday’s game against the Anaheim Ducks, necessitating an emergency recall of Hershey forward Zach Sill. Beagle, however, is set to play Thursday night. Jason Chimera is expected be in the lineup as well after leaving practice for a few minutes the day before because his “mom called.”

But there is one unknown: the status of TJ Oshie.

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beagle-block-ankle

Jay Beagle and flying pucks do not go well together. First, he broke his hand when some frozen vulcanized rubber hit him in the hand behind the net, sidelining him for months. Now, in the second to last game of the season, Beagle has been injured again.

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Here’s Jay Beagle Howling In His Natural Habitat

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The Capitals shared this Vine this evening and I’d be remiss if I didn’t post it. It’s Jay Beagle howling during practice. It’s basically a visual dog pun. The Capitals say Jay’s wooooing, but ignore them.

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Breaking: Top-Line Beagle at Practice

The Capitals have returned from a problematic trip through California, and now they’re doing some soul-searching. Slow starts, close games, and a faltering top line have prompted a dramatic shake-up to the forward lines.

Katie Brown of NHL.com told us the news.

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Beagle during Saturday’s morning skate. (Photo: Chris Gordon)

Photo: Chris Gordon

Photo: Chris Gordon

On Saturday morning, Jay Beagle took to the ice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex to the cheers of his teammates. He spent 45 minutes skating with the Caps and working with coaches in a non-contact jersey, his first practice with the team since breaking his left hand in a game against the Buffalo Sabres on December 30. After launching into a soliloquy to me on his Hotmail account, Beags took questions from reporters.

“It’s fun just to be out there,” Beagle said as his teammates prepared for the Devils-Capitals game, the 21st game Beagle will miss due to his injury. “Skating all by yourself gets to be tough after a little bit. It was good skating with the guys.”

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