WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 2: Alexander Semin #28 of Washington Capitals skates during warmups before Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs against the New York Rangers on May 2, 2012 at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/NHLI via Getty Images)

Tale of the Tape: Capitals vs Rangers

On Saturday, the Washington Capitals will host the New York Rangers in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference semifinal (12:30 pm ET, NBC). The Rangers lead the series 2-1; here’s a look at recent history between the two clubs.

Leading scorers

Washington: Alex Ovechkin (3G-3A-6PTS) | New York: Brad Richards (4G-5A-9PTS)

Starting goalies

Washington: Braden Holtby (5-5, 1.94 GAA) | New York: Henrik Lundqvist (6-4, 1.55 GAA)

Head-to-head

Season series split 2-2.

Nov. 25: New York 6, at Washington 3
Dec. 28: at Washington 4, New York 1
Feb. 12: At New York 3, Washington 2
Apr. 7: Washington 4, at New York 1

Game 1: New York 3, Washington 1

One of the things both teams had in common in the first round is that they blocked a ton of shots. That trend persisted into the series opener. The Capitals and Rangers blocked 14 shots each and they combined for a mere 32 shots on goal.

The lack of action proved to be an unusual challenge for Braden Holtby, who had faced at least 29 shots per game in the first round. He admitted after the contest that it was hard to stay focused.

That didn’t seem to be an issue for Henrik Lundqvist, who turned aside 17 of 18 shots. In the battle between these two defensively adept squads, the Rangers struck first.

Game 2: Washington 3, New York 2

Holtby looked much better in Game 2, but he wasn’t the story of this contest. Alex Ovechkin logged a mere 3:33 minutes of playing time in the first period and was even held off the ice during several offensive zone faceoffs. However, the Capitals had a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes, so it was hard to fault coach Dale Hunter for his choice.

The Capitals maintained their one-goal lead until Ryan Callahan found the back of the net at 6:58 of the third period. With the game now tied, the Capitals scrambled to regain their edge. As luck would have it, the Rangers were willing to help them by committing two minor penalties in the span of less than three minutes.

New York successfully killed off the first penalty, but Ovechkin scored his third goal of the playoffs shortly after the Rangers committed their second penalty of the period. Ovechkin still ended up with just 13:36 minutes of playing time, but he made a big difference.

Game 3: New York 2, Washington 1 (3OT)

After 114:41 minutes of playing time, Marian Gaborik finally ended Game 3. The contest took well over four hours to complete.

This match featured several warriors, but none more noteworthy than Ryan McDonagh, who logged a stunning 53:17 minutes of playing time. Marc Staal finished just 26 seconds shy of breaching the 50-minutes mark.

Gaborik’s winner was his first goal since Game 1 of the first round on April 12. After nearly two months of failing to find the back of the net, he might have finally broken out of that slump.

Injuries

New York: Brandon Dubinsky (lower body), Mats Zuccarello (wrist), Michael Sauer (concussion)

Washington: Tomas Vokoun (groin), Tom Poti (groin)

Bolts avoid arbitration with Namestnikov — two years, $3.875M

Vladislav Namestnikov
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Tampa Bay has avoided Friday’s scheduled arbitration hearing with forward Vladislav Namestnikov, agreeing to a two-year, $3.875M deal on Tuesday evening, per ESPN.

Namestnikov, 23, had a breakout campaign last year, scoring 14 goals and 35 points in 80 games — all career highs. The former first-round pick also appeared in 17 playoff games for the Bolts, scoring a goal and three points while helping the club to the Eastern Conference Final.

Coming off a one-year deal in which he made $874,125, the diminutive Russian gets a nice pay bump with this latest contract, and a bit of security with the two-year term. He should play a fairly integral role next season, coming off a year in which he finished tied for fourth on the team in goals, with Tyler Johnson.

But while tonight may be about Namestnikov, it’s another Russian forward in Tampa Bay that everybody now has their eyes on — Nikita Kucherov, the playoff scoring sensation that declined to file for arbitration, but still requires a new deal.

Given some of the big-money contracts GM Steve Yzerman has handed out this summer — namely those to Steve Stamkos, Victor Hedman and Alex Killorn — the Kucherov negotiations are definitely ones to keep an eye on.

Talks ongoing between Wild and Dumba, meeting expected soon

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There’s just one piece of business left for Minnesota this summer — a new contract for RFA defenseman Matt Dumba.

And it sounds like that piece of business will soon be attended to.

From the Star-Tribune:

There have been ongoing talks between Wild assistant GM Brent Flahr and [Dumba’s] agent Craig Oster.

The two are expected to meet face to face in Calgary at the Hockey Canada camp.

Dumba, the former No. 7 overall pick, just wrapped his entry-level deal, coming off a campaign in which he set career highs in games played (81), goals (10) and points (26).

He also notched a pair of assists in the Wild’s six-game loss to Dallas in the playoffs.

Dumba, 22, did see his name surface in trade talks this season. There was a report in late January that he was the return piece in a potential swap for Tampa Bay’s Jonathan Drouin, and he’s been tied to teams looking for a blueline upgrade.

A good puck mover with offensive skills — and a right-handed shot — Dumba is definitely a commodity. What’s more, logic suggests the Wild could opt to move him, given the long-term financial commitments to fellow defensemen Ryan Suter (signed through 2025 at $7.53 million), Jonas Brodin (2021 at $4.16M), Jared Spurgeon (2020, $5.18M) and Marco Scandella (2020, $4M).

Minnesota has some other young defensive prospects in the system, too.

There’s former Gophers standout Mike Reilly, Miami of Ohio product Louis Belpedio and Gustav Olofsson, the 46th overall pick in ’13 that’s been honing his game in AHL Iowa (and made his NHL debut last season).

The Wild are in control of the Dumba situation and can slow play negotiations, possibly while re-exploring trade scenarios. Don’t forget the Bruins are still in search of the “transitional” defenseman they desperately want.

But should things go the expected way and Dumba re-signs in Minnesota, the Star-Tribune said a bridge deal is the “likeliest” outcome.

Journeyman enforcer Rosehill signs with Scottish team

Paul Bissonnette, Jay Rosehill
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Noted pugilist Jay Rosehill has followed in the footsteps of his fellow tough guys, and will try his hand overseas.

Specifically, in the United Kingdom.

On Tuesday, the EIHL’s Scottish-based outfit in Braehead — the Clan — announced it had signed Rosehill for the upcoming campaign. The move comes after the 31-year-old spent each of the last two seasons with Philly’s AHL affiliate in Lehigh Valley.

Though he’s slowed down in recent years, Rosehill has long been known as an extremely active fighter. At no time was this more evident than during the ’08-09 campaign, when he fought a staggering 33 times (yeah, thirty-three) while playing for AHL Norfolk.

Rosehill last played in the NHL during the ’13-14 campaign, scoring two goals in 34 games for the Flyers — while racking up 90 PIM.

Here’s an example of some of his most famous handiwork:

As mentioned above, the EIHL has landed a few notable ex-NHL fighters. Cam Janssen, Kevin Westgarth, Paul Bissonnette and Tom Sestito have all played there.

 

 

Veteran d-man Foster retires, moves into coaching

UNIONDALE, NY - DECEMBER 13:  Kurtis Foster #26 of the Minnesota Wild looks on during their NHL game against the New York Islanders on December 13, 2005 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.  The Wild defeated the Islanders 4-3.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
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Kurtis Foster, who appeared in over 400 games during a 10-year NHL career, is hanging up his skates to enter the next phase of his hockey life — coaching.

Foster, 34, has rejoined his former junior team in OHL Peterborough as an assistant coach, per the Examiner. The decision comes after Foster spent the last three years playing overseas in the KHL and, most recently, in the German League.

The 40th overall pick in 2000, Foster is often remembered for a horrific leg break while playing for Minnesota during the 2007-08 campaign, in which his femur was shattered by Torrey Mitchell after Mitchell tried to prevent an icing call.

The severity of the collision and Foster’s injury — he underwent emergency surgery, nearly bled out and almost lost his leg — prompted an immediate rule tweak from the NHL, and has since been viewed as a catalyst for the league’s adoption of no-touch icing.

Impressively, Foster recovered from the broken femur to post a career-high 42 points in 74 games with the Lightning in ’09-10.

In addition to the Wild and Bolts, Foster spent time with the Thrashers, Oilers, Ducks, Devils and Flyers.