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Team Sweden pulled out their second straight win this morning, defeating Switzerland 1-0 on a late Daniel Alfredsson goal. That’s cool, but I can’t get past what happened before the game.

Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson rode bikes to their game at Bolshoy Ice Dome. Together. While wearing suits.

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Nicklas Backstrom and Team Sweden Take Team Photo

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Backstrom and Johansson (middle row, center) pose for the team photo.

Unlike Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson, Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson didn’t play on Thursday. Instead, Team Sweden held practice and took their team photos.

The Swedish-language site Aftonbladet has photos.

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Photo: Brace Hemmelgarn

With Swedish twin Henrik Sedin still ailing from a rib injury, Washington Capitals center Marcus Johnasson has been named to Sweden’s Olympic team as his injury replacement. According to @Rabiesmalin, Johansson was told the news through Nicklas Backstrom two hours before the Caps’ pre-game Olympic send-off ceremony with John Kerry.

This is the first time Johansson has represented his country in international competition since he was named captain of the Swedish World Junior Championship team in 2010. Johansson also played on the WJC team in 2009 and the U18 team in 2008 and 2007.

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Let’s be honest, in a 2-1 shootout loss to the league’s worst team there are few good moments to focus on. But as the Washington Capitals came out for the third period tied with the Buffalo Sabres 1-1, CSN accidentally caught the most fun-loving of fun-lovingest moments on the Caps bench.

As Joe B. discussed responses to CSN’s #CapitalsTalk question of the night, jokester Jason Chimera shoved Joel Ward and then whacked him in the face.

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Photo credit: Kim Klement

Washington Capitals forward Marcus Johansson has long struggled to be strong on the puck, but this year he has somehow become Mike Knuble incarnate along the boards and in the paint. I have no idea what changed.

During a late first period powerplay, Johansson exhibited his new grit, making Tampa pay for concentrating a wee too much on Alex Ovechkin.

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Nick Backstrom Named to Swedish Olympic Team

Ice Hockey - Day 10 - Sweden v Finland

Photo: Bruce Bennett

Sweden has released its roster for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, and a familiar face is right in the middle. Caps center Nick Backstrom shares the roster with the Sedin twins, Henrik Lundqvist, Henrik Zetterberg, and Daniel Alfredsson. Marcus Johansson did not make the roster.

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Adam Oates Looks for Scoring Balance With New Top-Six

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Photo credit: Patrick McDermott

This season, Alex Ovechkin’s shot has been an unstoppable force of destruction. Ovi has registered 31 goals. His line’s scoring, however, has often been one-sided. Marcus Johansson and Nicklas Backstrom, Ovechkin’s linemates for much of the season, have scored just six even-strength goals. When Ovi’s hitting the net, it’s not a problem. But if last year’s MVP hits some bad luck, as he did over the four games before last night, the line struggles. Ovechkin has just a single assist during five-on-five play.

“It’s not enough,” Oates said when I asked him about that stat. “It shows how much all three guys are important.”

For Thursday’s game against the Hurricanes, Oates switched up his lines, putting Ovechkin with Eric Fehr and Mikhail Grabovski while placing Johansson and Backstrom with Brouwer.

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Holtby Overtime: Caps Top Isles 3-2 (OT)

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Ballgame. (Photo credit: Bruce Bennett)

Like the Bond marathon on SyFy over the last few days, the Washington Capitals are a fickle thing. Lately, the Caps have mixed the sublime elegance of the Sean Connery era with the confusing stupor of the Timothy Dalton movies. More often than not, it’s been the latter.

Plainly, they didn’t deserve to win yesterday’s game. Only the godlike brilliance of Eric Fehr kept the Caps from a fifth straight loss. They did win, however, and got their tired asses on a plane to hell Long Island this morning. With Braden Holtby making his second start in as many days, the setup for this one didn’t look good.

Washington’s start, however, was better than we’ve come to expect. Though New York handily outshot them early, the Caps controlled possession. The teams traded chances, with no one converting. Hey, that’s better than being 3-0 after 20!

As usual, the Caps got it going in the second. The period was filling with odd-man breaks and open looks for Washington, with the fourth line converting midway through the frame. Martin Erat – yes, that one — made a nice play behind the net before setting up the puck for Tom Wilson, who fired it on net. Aaron Volpatti did the net crashing thing to put the Caps on the board.

In the third, though, the Isles got the goal back — and they did on a Caps power play. Four minutes into the period, local pariah Mike Green missed a pinch and Cal Clutterbuck took the puck the other way on a breakaway. Yeah, it was awful. Then, Thomas Vanek gave the Isles the lead with some whacking in front, to Braden’s dismay. With less than two minutes left, this one looked over. HOWEVER… Nicklas Backstrom was stone cold clutch, converting in front with the Caps down a man. In overtime, the big Russian — that would be Alex Ovechkin — did his thing. Boom. Crazy times. Caps top Isles 3-2 (OT).

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Festival of (Red) Lights: Sens Edge Caps 6-4

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Photo credit: Patrick McDermott

Blame Rachel Cohen for this.

Blame Rachel Cohen for this.

[Note: This recap is Chanukah-themed tonight. Why? Because there's literally no one on the Internet right now.]

Last week, there was only one way to describe the play of the Washington Capitals: shameful. After winning three straight, the Capitals allowed seven unanswered goals at Verizon Center, before showing some life late against Montreal. Saturday’s game, though, was markedly different. The Capitals still lost, but they put 50 shots on goal, Washington’s highest total since 2010. On the first night of Chanukah, the Caps looked to continue that output against the lowly Ottawa Senators. They did — at first.

It started with a sublime play by yelling person-cum-Jewish pun Michael Latta, who skated into the offensive zone, got tripped, and then pole vaulted over a Sens defender. The loose puck went to Eric Fehr, who unleashed a lovely wrist shot to put the Caps on the board. Ottawa tied it up less than a minute and a half  later, however, when Bobby Ryan tipped one past Braden Holtby on the man-advantage. However, Marcus Johansson whacked in a loose puck in front on the power play just 38 seconds after the Sens tally, giving the Caps a 2-1 lead. BUT WAIT! A mere 47 seconds later, Brooks Laich backhanded home a loose puck in front. Four goals in under five minutes. Whew!

The second period was all Sens. Chris Philips put them within one with a blast on the power play, before Colin Greening tied the game at three.

In the final frame Mika Zibanejad added another PP tally. Ugh. The game looked hopeless until John Carlson tied it late. Prepare to cry, though, because just over a minute later Zach Smith beat Mike Green and Nate Schmidt to win the ballgame. Ryan added an empty netter. Sad face. Vodka. Sens edge Caps 6-4

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Photo credit: Alex Brandon

It was Russian Heritage Night at Verizon Center on Tuesday, so how else could the Washington Capitals game end but with an Alex Ovechkin goal in overtime. It was Ovi’s 13th career OTGWG — the most in Caps franchise history — and his 14th goal of the 2013-14 season.

While Ovi was the one who crashed the net, the reason why you’re getting 50% off your online order from Papa John’s tomorrow is Marcus Johansson.

Johansson has been a lightning rod of criticism from Caps fans, showing tons of skill, but playing soft in the corners and not finishing. It can be infuriating, but on Tuesday he did everything right.

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