Did You Know? Dominik Hasek’s amazing run

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The “Did You Know?” series ties in the news of the day with some little-known hockey factoids and/or trivia. It’ll be fun. Trust me.

Dominik Hasek is one of the greatest goalies in NHL history. He might very well be the greatest, but that’s up for debate.

What’s not up for debate, though, is that Hasek had the greatest 17-month span of any goalie. Ever.

From Feb. 1998 to June 1999, Hasek did the following (this is in chronological order):

— Won Olympic gold with Czech Republic at the Winter Olympics.
— Finished first in the NHL in shots faced, saves, save percentage, minutes played and shutouts.
— Went to Eastern Conference Finals with Buffalo.
— Won the Vezina Trophy.
— Won the Ted Lindsay Award.
— Won the Hart Trophy.
— Was named to NHL First All-Star Team.
— Had a couple months off in the summer, prepped for the upcoming season.
— Finished first in the NHL in save percentage.
— Went to the Stanley Cup Finals with Buffalo.
— Finished first in playoff save percentage.
— Won the Vezina Trophy.
— Was named to the NHL First All-Star Team.

Now, those accolades alone make for an impressive resume — but consider the teams Hasek was carrying.

Czech Republic: Hasek’s performance in Nagano might be the most impressive, dominant, jump-on-my-back-I’ll-take-you-to-the-promised-land performance in goaltending history. The Czechs didn’t have a single player in the tournament’s top-10 scoring; they only managed two regulation goals in the semifinal and final combined.

In the elimination phase, Hasek stopped 38 of 39 shots against the U.S., 24 of 25 against Canada (plus five shootout attempts) and all 20 Russian shots in the gold medal game. His save percentage in do-or-die games was .964.

And Hasek did all this while his fellow “stars” failed to produce. Jaromir Jagr had just one goal in six games; the key goals in the semi and final were scored by Jiri Slegr and Petr Svoboda. The leading Czech scorer for the tourney was a guy named Pavel Patera, who had a cup of coffee in Minnesota.

Buffalo: The Sabres went to the Conference and Stanley Cup Finals with a pretty thin offense. Their leading scorer in both seasons was Miro Satan…with 46 and 66 points. In 1997-98, nobody scored more than 24 goals; in 1998-99, Buffalo’s top-five scorers included Michal Grosek, Curtis Brown and Dixon Ward.

The wildest year was 97-98, when Hasek led the league in shots faced (2149 over 72 games — an average of roughly 30 per contest). He finished with a 2.09 GAA and 13 shutouts while playing in front of a defense comprised of Alexei Zhitnik, Darryl Shannon, Richard Smehlik, Jason Woolley, Bob Boughner, Mike Wilson and Jay McKee. Not exactly a Norris Trophy shortlist, if you know what I’m saying.

It’s probably overlooked because he didn’t win a Cup and his career overall was so successful, but Hasek’s run from Feb. 1998 to June 1999 is the stuff of legend.

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.