Waiting for Drew Doughty to sign? That might take a while

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While everyone is focused on Steve Stamkos and his ongoing restricted free agent contract talks in Tampa Bay, there’s another premiere restricted free agent making his team sweat things out. Los Angeles defenseman Drew Doughty is tied in negotiations with Kings GM Dean Lombardi about just what he’s going to do about keeping him long term.

Doughty was a Norris Trophy finalist in 2010 and at age 21 going on 22, he’s got a long and illustrious career staring him in the face. It’s a career that could see him rank out as one of the top five defensemen in the league for the next ten years at least. While his 2010 season was outstanding, his 2011 saw him come back to earth a bit. While he was still good, he wasn’t great and the kind of deal he’s looking for from the Kings is a career-changing offer.

The Los Angeles Times’ Fabulous Forum finds out from Lombardi that the process of getting Doughty signed won’t be a quick one.

“I am getting the feeling on Drew that unfortunately this could take a while. As we just saw this past week free agency produces a frenzy for players at all levels. We must be judicious about not getting into this market for our own players. Therefore it is critical with Drew that the dollars reflect a fair rate of return regarding the term of the contract. We must be prepared to do what it takes to get it right.”

Lombardi also said the Kings would match any offer sheet Doughty might sign with another team. It’s unlikely any team would make an offer of a magnitude that would entice Doughty away, because paying him that much money would leave that team little room to pay the support players necessary to build a winner. Also, Doughty grew up a Kings fan.

The helpful part of being a restricted free agent is that there’s no real timeline aside from the start of training camp or the season to get a deal done by. With opposing teams reluctant to push the issue and sign those players to offer sheets, teams owning their rights aren’t threatened to move faster to get a deal done. The Kings have enough cap space to not be scared by potential poaching and that’s why you’ve got things dragging out now.  Dragging out being relative term here.

While the chances are slim that Doughty will get poached by another team with an offer sheet, getting the deal done and done right is important for both sides, especially the Kings. Signing him up to a potential cap-crippling deal does no one any favors. Dean Lombardi’s done things smart before and they’ll get things right with Doughty, just don’t go holding your breath over it.

Ovechkin shrugs off Caps’ Game 1 loss in very Ovechkin way

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You know, it happens. Maybe not always in those exact words.

The Washington Capitals carried the play during portions of their 3-2 Game 1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and even down 1-0 in the series, just about every player seemed happy with their overall game.

(Granted, Braden Holtby picked apart two of the three goals he allowed, and so on.)

Still, Alex Ovechkin shrugged off the disappointment in a way that wasn’t quite Rated R, but probably ranks in the PG-13 range:

The penalty element is interesting, though.

When asked after the loss about the lack of power plays, Matt Niskanen merely offered a “no comment.”

The Penguins experienced some sprawling moments, yet they avoided taking a penalty each time. Often, when a team carries long sequences of play, they’ll go on the PP (especially with home-ice advantage) … but not the Capitals in Game 1.

via Natural Stat Trick

It’s a situation to watch as the Capitals hope to even the series against the Penguins with Game 2 coming on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. (You can watch online, via the NBC Sports App and follow the livestream here).

Holtby takes blame for two big goals in Caps’ loss to Pens

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It’s just about a consensus that the Washington Capitals believed that they generally played a strong game despite falling 3-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Braden Holtby‘s teammates likely wouldn’t agree with his assessment that the Game 1 loss is on his shoulders, but the perennial Vezina candidate took the blame for Sidney Crosby‘s first goal of the night and Nick Bonino‘s game-winner.

Noting that the Penguins are a dangerous rush team – making them a different threat than the Toronto Maple Leafs – Holtby believes that he should have had his glove in position to stop the 1-0 goal. He said he’s capable of making such a stop and “will next time.” Check out Crosby’s two goals below, with Holtby having a beef with the first one:

It’s really difficult to place too much blame on Holtby for giving up Nick Bonino’s game-winner, as it seemed like a great rush play that few goalies would be able to stop.

Judge for yourself in the highlights:

The Penguins were ultimately able to take a 1-0 series lead, but the Capitals seem capable of shrugging off questions about frustrations, even with naysayers starting to gain confidence in claiming that there will be more than the same.

If Washington’s going to get over this big hurdle, Holtby is likely to be a big part in doing so.

Fleury, Penguins hang on for Game 1 win against Capitals

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The Pittsburgh Penguins pulled off a 3-2 Game 1 win against the Washington Capitals, but Thursday’s thriller probably prompted a sigh of relief.

(Washington, meanwhile, might have uttered a sigh at such unpleasantly familiar feelings.)

The first period ended 0-0 in part thanks to Jake Guentzel‘s sprawling “kick save.” Business really picked up in the second after Sidney Crosby raced off to two quick goals, only for Alex Ovechkin to give Washington a shot thanks to a booming goal and some physical play.

It sure felt like this one might head to overtime, especially after Evgeny Kuznetsov was tying things up and flapping his arms like wings. That was not to be, however, as Nick Bonino took advantage of a pretty area pass to beat Braden Holtby for the decisive tally.

Now, it was only decisive because Marc-Andre Fleury was at the top of his game. Oh, and also because the Penguins did a collective Guentzel impression in frantically denying a tying tally.

Makes you want to wipe some sweat from your brow, eh?

The Capitals dominated by just about every statistical measure … except, of course, goals on the scoreboard. Pittsburgh will gladly take that 1-0 series lead, then.

Expect a desperate Washington team in Game 2, which airs at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can watch it online and via the NBC Sports App (click here for the livestream link).

Karlsson makes difference for Senators vs. Lundqvist, Rangers

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Swedish superstars Henrik Lundqvist and Erik Karlsson were both stupendous in Game 1 between the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators.

Still, it was Karlsson’s game-winning goal (from a seemingly impossible angle) against Lundqvist that made the difference as the Senators beat the Rangers 2-1 on Thursday. With that, the Senators are up 1-0 in the series.

That Karlsson goal really deserves a special look.

Whether you blame that 2-1 tally on Lundqvist or not, the Rangers would be foolish to do anything but praise their red-hot franchise goalie. He stopped all 21 Senators shots in the first period and ultimately made 41 out of 43 stops in defeat.

Craig Anderson was strong in his own right, mind you, stopping 34 out of 35 shots (including all 28 at even-strength) to help Ottawa take that tight contest.

Anderson’s strong play highlights the fact that Rangers – Senators doesn’t merely come down to Lundqvist vs. Karlsson … but even so, both Swedish superstars really did stand out in this one.

Game 2 airs on NBC at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App; click here for the livestream link.