How the Ovechkin-Caps fared in Game 7's

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capspens.jpgIt’s kind of stunning to think that every single Alex Ovechkin Era Washington Capitals playoff series went to a Game 7. Whether it was a marquee matchup with Pittsburgh or seemingly mundane clashes with the Rangers and Canadiens, the Caps have been pushed to the brink each and every time. Oddly enough, each series also ended (for better or for worse) in “The Phone Booth” in DC.

Let’s take a look at the Capitals history of Game 7’s during the Ovechkin-Boudreau-etc. days.

#1: First Round of 2008

Philadelphia 3, Washington 2 in OT

The Capitals came back from a 3-1 series deficit to force a Game 7 but couldn’t get it done in this one. Three of the game’s five goals were scored on the powerplay, including Joffrey Lupul’s series winning OT GWG. Alex Ovechkin came to play with a goal and an assist, although I recall Ovechkin receiving criticism for making “an extra pass” to Sergei Fedorov in one of the game’s defining moments. This also ended the brief (but for him, lucrative) Cristobal Huet reign in Washington.

#2: First Round of 2009

Washington 2, New York Rangers 1

Proving that a series lead doesn’t do much good for opponents or the Capitals, Washington came back from another 3-1 gap. This time, though, the team actually won the Game 7. Semyon Varlamov came in relief of Jose Theodore early in the series and helped the team make a long-awaited visit to the second round. The game – in my opinion – was often in the Rangers’ hands but the team lacked offensive punch to put it away. Instead, Sergei Fedorov roofed it past Henrik Lundqvist for the 2-1 win.

#3 Second Round of 2009

Pittsburgh 6, Washington 2

The pivotal play came early in the game, when Marc-Andre Fleury made a huge save on Alex Ovechkin. Pittsburgh ran to a stunning 5-0 lead, chasing Varlamov and embarrassing the team they fought toe-to-toe for most of the exhilarating first six games. Sidney Crosby had 2 goals and 1 assist, helping the Penguins come back from a 2-0 series deficit to beat their media-christened rivals.

So, the question is, what will this Game 7 hold for the Capitals? Will they go 2-2 in elimination games at home since eschewing Bondra for Boudreau or drop to 1-3 despite having home ice advantage? We will find out tonight.

Ducks likely to recall Khudobin after Gibson injury

Chicago Blackhawks' Richard Panik (14), of Slovakia, collides with Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson (36) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Chicago. Anaheim won 3-2 in overtime. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
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“Costly victories” may have been one of the themes of Saturday night, as some teams paired impressive wins with worrisome injuries.

The good news is that, in each case, it appears that the early word is optimistic about those players (Tyler Seguin got stitched up in the Stars’ win, for example).

The Anaheim Ducks are reportedly readying to recall Anton Khudobin on Sunday after John Gibson suffered an upper-body injury during a collision with Chicago Blackhawks forward Richard Panik.

Again, so far the hope/expectation is that this might not be a major issue:

The pessimistic take would be to wonder “Uh oh, is the Ducks goalie carousel starting again?”

Frederik Andersen has seen some runs as Anaheim’s No. 1 guy, so maybe this issue is a reminder that the Ducks may be better off keeping both Gibson and Andersen around … at least while they can.

Stars end Capitals’ winning streak, pass Blackhawks for West lead

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For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”

They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:

  • Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
  • This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
  • By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.

Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).

Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.

Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.

Blackhawks fall to Ducks in OT, lose Hossa to injury

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The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.

(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)

Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)

You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:

It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.

Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:

Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).

Understatement: Saturday was a rough night for Panthers

Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson (33) checks Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.

You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.

The pain goes beyond that … literally so.

For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.

(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)

The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.

Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.