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Photo credit: Alex Brandon

The Washington Capitals dominated play in game seven against the New York Islanders through two periods. They were constantly parked in the Isles zone, putting pucks on goaltender Jaroslav Halak with ease. The Islanders could barely muster a whimper, with just six shots on goal as the middle frame wound down. Somehow, though, Washington hadn’t found a way to convert: missed deflections, timely saves, and bad bounces led to a scoreboard that reflected little about what happening on the ice.

Then, with 1:25 left in the second period, Joel Ward broke through, poking Brooks Orpik‘s shot through the legs of Halak. Verizon Center erupted into a shining display of pure human joy. But it was still full of Washington Capitals fans, ready to have their hearts ripped out with final game, final period collapse. And just three minutes and 13 seconds into the closing frame, Frans Nielsen did just that with an innocent-looking wrist shot from the slot that trickled through Braden Holtby’s pads. With that, the game was tied. Though the Caps had dominated play, the game looked like it would end with another bitter, bruising fight, with one bad bounce deciding each team’s fate.

But instead, the game-winner would buck the thuggery the series had shown. With around seven minutes left in the zero-sum game, Evgeny Kuznetsov picked up Jason Chimera‘s pass at the far wall, before cutting right through the heart of the New York zone. The play was magisterial, with Kuznetsov floated past Islanders defenders. Instead of firing the puck off at his first look at the net, Kuznetsov held on to it until he got to the near circle. That’s when Halak went down. Kuznetsov saw an opening.

“I just put puck in the net,” he told reporters after the game.

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The Capitals have played their absolute best hockey in game seven. Dominating the Islanders in the second period, the Caps finally cracked the Caps killer, Jaroslav Halak.

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Photo: @WashCaps

Tuesday night, the Washington Capitals tied up their first-round playoff series with the New York Islanders on a thrilling overtime goal by Nicklas Backstrom. Or was it?

Upon replay of the goal, it appears the puck might have gone off of the Caps’ Joel Ward or maybe even the Islanders’ Johnny Boychuk.

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Caps Universe Celebrates the Overtime Winner (Video)

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Photo: Bruce Bennett

Where were you when the Washington Capitals defeated the New York Islanders 11 minutes into overtime?

Some of us were at home. Some were at Verizon Center. Some of us were being pelted in the side of the head by beer at Nasseau Coliseum. Some were preparing for postgame coverage.

The Caps and their fans were scattered but united in celebration. Follow me around the world.

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Nicklas Backstrom’s Game Four OTGWG (GIF)

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Photo: Bruce Bennett

How do you beat Jaroslav Halak? The answer is almost always traffic up front. That’s how Alex Ovechkin got the Caps their first goal, a deflection in the first period. And that’s how, almost 60 minutes of play later, Nicklas Backstrom ended the game– as Joel Ward impersonated a wall in the slot.

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Photo from NHL.com

John Tavares is one of the best hockey players on the planet. If the New York Islanders hope to take down Alex Ovechkin, the best hockey player on the planet, and the Washington Capitals, Tavares will have to play a leading role. So, quite obviously, one of the Caps primary concerns when game planning is shutting down the Isles superstar center.

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Photo: Patrick Smith

This is amazing.

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Caps Take Three Penalties in Brutal 1:38 Span

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The Ottawa Senators are an insane 16-1-1 with the Hamburglar in net, so we knew before the game it’d take a herculean effort from the Washington Capitals to win. But instead, the Caps came out flat and made a myriad of mistakes. First, they gave up an early even-strength goal to young star Mark Stone after a bad shift change.

At this point, the Caps went HAM and took three minor penalties in 1:38.

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Elliotte Friedman is one of the most connected and respected journalists in hockey. On Friday morning, Friedman released his latest 30 Thoughts article, in which he  expounded on why the Patrick Sharp trade never materialized.

The short answer: Joel Ward.

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Nicklas Backstrom doesn’t go to All-Star Games, receive NHL Awards, or get much attention of any kind. He’s just quietly one of the best players in the league making world-class plays every night.

On Tuesday, the NHL’s leading assist man delivered another juicy apple– this time to Joel Ward during a five-on-three power play. Backstrom, in the corner, fired a perfect cross-ice, cross-crease pass to Ward who one-timed the puck past Marc-Andre Fluery. It would stand as the game-winning goal and Nicky’s 44th assist.

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