<span class="vcard">James O'Brien</span>

Washington Capitals v New York Rangers - Game Seven

Early delivery: Ovechkin scores 1-0 goal

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All eyes are on Alex Ovechkin in Game 7 … yet even someone under such surveillance can occasionally break free.

Ovechkin sprang free to some open space in a small window of time, receiving a pretty pass from Marcus Johansson and beating Henrik Lundqvist up high to give the Washington Capitals a 1-0 lead against the New York Rangers:

There’s plenty of time for Ovechkin’s bold words to bite him back, but so far, he’s delivering.

Fehr replaces Glencross in Caps’ Game 7 lineup

Washington Capitals v Minnesota Wild
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With their season on the line, the Washington Capitals are favoring a familiar face over a trade deadline find. Eric Fehr steps back in the Caps’ lineup in place of Curtis Glencross against the New York Rangers in Game 7.

Fehr, 29, has missed the past 10 games. He hasn’t scored in the three playoff contests he appeared in, but he showed decent scoring punch during the regular season, with 19 goals (including four game-winners) in 75 games.

Fehr also had 14 assists for a total of 33 points.

He’s a big body who’s currently slotted in a lower line combination, yet he’s shown a decent amount of aptitude skating with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom when given the opportunity.

Glencross, 32, has been quiet during the playoffs, managing a single goal in 10 games. He hasn’t really produced many chances, either, with just 14 shots on goal.

On paper, this is a minor swap, but you never know when a bit player might steal the spotlight.

Members of KHL team may wage legal battle to get paid

Edmonton Oilers v Florida Panthers
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Members of KHL team HC Sochi are prepping legal action after going without pay since January, according the Associated Press and R-Sport.

HC Sochi captain Nikita Shchitov said that the KHL Players’ Trade Union is expected to file a complaint on their behalf.

”We’ve got basically nothing left to lose. We’re tired of listening to constant promises, so let’s have the trade union get involved in this,” Shchitov told R-Sport.

”We’re being told nothing solid. It’s just not clear what’s happening. There’s a feeling that the club has no money and no-one needs it.”

Most of the KHL’s teams are based in Russia, which is going through tough economic times, so perhaps it’s not surprising that some clubs are struggling financially in 2014-15.

HC Sochi made the playoffs this season and their roster featured at least one familiar face to NHL fans: defenseman Ryan Whitney, who is featured in this post’s main image. Whitney generated 23 points in 42 games and one assist in four KHL playoff contests this season, in case you’re wondering.

WATCH LIVE: Capitals at Rangers – Game 7

Chris Kreider, Braden Holtby
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The guarantees have been made. Both the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers are about as well-rested as one can expect, with Game 6 ending on Sunday. Now it’s time to get to the nail-biting, legacy-defining action of a Game 7.

As the 2015 Presidents’ Trophy winners, the Rangers get to host this contest at Madison Square Garden. You can watch this big game in the Big Apple on NBCSN and stream it via NBC Sports Live Extra:

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

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Kuznetsov: Caps will win Game 7 because ‘our goalie is better’

Washington Capitals v Buffalo Sabres
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The Washington Capitals already furnished the New York Rangers with bulletin board material thanks to Alex Ovechkin’s soft guarantee for Game 7. Why not double-down, then?

When asked about why the Capitals might take Wednesday’s decisive game against the Rangers, Evgeny Kuznetsov said it came down to Braden Holtby vs. Henrik Lundqvist … and he’ll take Holtby.

“Our goalie’s better,” Kuznetsov said with a laugh. “I don’t know what you want me to say. Our goalie’s better.”

Here’s video of his comments, along with other interesting reactions (some more likely than others to provide bulletin board material):

Those are bold words in just about any context, but considering Lundqvist’s status as one of the few truly elite goalies in the NHL – maybe the elite goalie in the league – things get that much spicier. Quite frankly, Lundqvist clearly got the best of Holtby in Game 6, yet perhaps their will be a reversal of fortune when everything’s on the line for both teams?

If that’s true, it would break an interesting pattern:

Perhaps Kuznetsov and Ovechkin were a little bit more candid following the frustration of seeing Washington’s 3-1 series lead evaporate into a 3-3 tie? Whatever the case may be, they’re adding extra motivation to a Game 7, the most inspirational situation a hockey player can ask for (at least from a team standpoint).

The beauty and silliness of sports wraps up in this thought, then: if Washington wins, this will look brilliant … and the opposite situation would make them look like bragging buffoons.

Barry Trotz probably doesn’t love this, yet it sure makes this situation more fun, doesn’t it? We’ll see if this candor only heightens over the long break until Game 7 on Wednesday, then.