LovejoyOrlovGameOneRobCarr

Lovejoy celebrates his goal (Photo: Rob Carr)

Capitals defensemen Dmitry Orlov went for the big hit, hoping to take Penguins center Nick Bonino out at the blue line. Instead, Orlov missed, colliding with Nate Schmidt. Bonino was left with an unfettered path to the net. He shot the puck on Braden Holtby before Ben Lovejoy cleaned up the rebound at the midway point of Game One on Thursday, tying the score at one.

Orlov, who, like Schmidt, is playing in his first postseason in the NHL, didn’t see the ice for the rest of the game, save for a brief 25-second shift early in the third period. He finished with less than six minutes of time on ice.

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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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WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 16: John Carlson #74 of the Washington Capitals celebrates his second period goal against the Ottawa Senators at Verizon Center on December 16, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Photo:Patrick Smith

The Washington Capitals’ special teams units have been at or near the top of the league rankings all year. While the number of power-play chances certainly goes down once the playoffs begin, the relative rarity of goals and chances makes converting those opportunities all the more important. Look none other than to the last President’s Trophy run. In that playoffs first round match-up the Montreal Canadiens scored six PP goals to the Capitals one, the Canadiens prevailed. Last year in the first round, the Islanders did not score a PP goal while the Caps scored two. Then in the very next round the New York Rangers tallied three PP goals to the Capitals one.

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Matt Niskanen Gives Birth to a Hockey Puck

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Late in the first period, play was stopped after Travis Zajac deflected the puck. Just the puck didn’t go out of play or into the crowd. It went up Matt Niskanen’s pants. Really.

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Photo: Maddie Meyer

This morning, Peter and Pat wrote two posts pointing out the worrying trends of the best team in hockey. The Washington Capitals have seen their possession fall off a cliff, they’re getting dominated in first periods, they’ve seen their god-like goaltender become a mere mortal, and they’ve watched their two best players, Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, struggle. On top of that, the Caps suffered arguably their worst loss of the season Sunday against the Penguins, watching their defense have breakdown after breakdown against the Pens’ speed game.

Monday, ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun joined the Caps at a team-building event in Ottawa. Matt Niskanen told LeBrun he believes the team has motivation issues.

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tom-wilson-mad

Saturday, the Capitals almost completed an improbable comeback against the second-best team in the league, the Dallas Stars. To put it succinctly: the third period was good times for the Caps. Washington scored three consecutive goals and looked to be the better team. But before that, the Caps were miserable.

In the game’s first two periods, the Stars jumped out to a 4-0 lead, outshooting the Capitals 25 to 11. That left some players frustrated. And angry.

My favorite meltdown moment came from Tom Wilson.

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Photo: Geoff Burke

As Peter pointed out in the recap, Caps defenseman Matt Niskanen hadn’t scored since the first week of the season, a span of 115 days and 47 games. Sunday against the Flyers, Niskanen scored the game-winning goal.

It was random.

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PING! Capitals Hit the Post Twice in Four Seconds (Video)

Photo: Nathan Denette

I’m a big fan of physics and wacky hockey plays, hence I bring you the below video. Last night, in a span of four seconds, the Washington Capitals hit the post twice on consecutive shots.

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Teeny tiny Tom Wilson.

During the second period of Caps-Canes, Joe Beninati wished us Happy Holidays in the best way possible: by presenting photos of the Caps as adorable kids at Christmas.

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niskanen-hit

Hockey is becoming increasingly less violent. Head shots are punished, fighting is going extinct, and speed and skill are becoming paramount. Nevertheless, there’s still a place for a good open-ice hit, like the one Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen delivered on JT Brown in the third period of Friday’s grand comeback. The Lightning took exception to the hit, which knocked Brown’s helmet off. The testy nature led to a Capitals power power that tied the game, completing the rally.

“That happens a lot now nowadays unfortunately,” Niskanen said of Tampa’s reaction. “Everyone everywhere says they want good clean checks, but then they want you to answer for it. It’s understandable. We do it too. We get riled up if someone gets hit pretty hard. But it’s a hockey game.”

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