Evgeny Kuznetsov

Capitals sign Nicklas Backstrom to five-year, $46M extension

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The Washington Capitals face big questions about their future, but Nicklas Backstrom will remain a part of it. The Capitals were able to sign Backstrom to a five-year, $46 million contract extension on Tuesday.

Backstrom, 32, will see that $9.2M AAV kick in starting in 2020-21, and then expire after 2024-25. Interestingly, Evgeny Kuznetsov ($7.8M cap hit) and T.J. Oshie ($5.75M) also see their deals expire after that 2024-25 campaign.

Apparently Backstrom negotiated his own contract, focusing on getting top dollar, while the Caps wanted to account for his age:

Backstrom has ranked as one of the NHL’s more underappreciated stars for years. The Capitals note that he leads the franchise in assists (668) and is also the only active player to generate 50+ assists in six consecutive seasons. Backstrom ranks second in franchise history in points (908), second only to Alex Ovechkin (1,255).

A quick cap outlook after Capitals sign Backstrom

Going truly deep on the Capitals’ future decisions is probably the job for a full post, but we can take a quick peek.

Cap Friendly places Washington’s cap spending at about $71.1M on 16 roster spots heading into 2020-21. If the ceiling remains around $81.5M, that would leave the Caps with about $10.4M in space.

Such comments serve as a reminder that the Capitals face other tough decisions, both soon and off in the distance.

Most pressingly, Braden Holtby (30, current cap hit: $6.1M) needs a new contract after this season. Ilya Samsonov may or may not be the future. If the Capitals find some way to sign Holtby, it would probably require making painful omissions elsewhere.

The Capitals also must determine what Alex Ovechkin’s next contract will look like. The 34-year-old’s $9.538M cap hit runs out after 2020-21.

It will be fascinating to see how Backstrom ages. His smart, borderline Selke-worthy style may grow old quite gracefully. Still, it’s kind of startling to realize that he’s 32 already. Some old folks might take that as a reminder of our (er, their!) mortality.

Did the Capitals make the right call with this hefty extension? Did Backstrom make a mistake by haggling on his own? What should the Caps do with Holtby and others?

With the Capitals running rampant over the league and not that far removed from that glorious Stanley Cup, extending Backstrom certainly feels like a crowd-pleaser right now, at least. Frankly, the slick Swede was so underpaid before, it also seems fair.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Capitals vs. Flyers livestream: How to watch Wednesday Night Hockey

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season continues with the Wednesday Night Hockey matchup between the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

Washington defeated the Senators 6-1 last night on home ice to pickup their third consecutive win and remain undefeated in the 2020 calendar year. Alex Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie each tallied two goals and rookie goaltender Ilya Samsonov stopped 26 of 27 shots he faced as the Caps erased an early 1-0 deficit to come away with the win. Ovechkin’s second goal, his 26th of the season, was the 684th of his career, tying him with Teemu Selanne for 11th place on the NHL’s all-time goals list.

The Caps have been pacing the entire league since the beginning of the season. Wednesday will mark the 86th day overall that Washington has led the Metro and will also mark the 67th day overall that the Caps have led the NHL this season.

Philly ended a six-game road trip (1-4-1) Tuesday night at However, things could be turning around in the city of brotherly love as the Flyers will be hosting six of their next seven games beginning Wednesday. Philly has won seven of their last eight games at home (7-1-0) and Wednesday’s game vs. Washington will be their first at the Wells Fargo Center since Dec. 23. The Flyers are 13-2-4 at home this season, while their two regulation losses are tied with Boston for the fewest in the league.

The Flyers ended a six-game road trip Tuesday night with a 5-4 (OT) loss to Carolina. Philly scored the first two goals of the game before giving up the next four. The Flyers rallied to tie the game as Travis Sanheim sent the game to the extra frame with his fifth goal of the season with under five mins to play. Canes defenseman Dougie Hamilton scored in OT to hand Philly their fifth loss of the road trip (1-4-1), but the Flyers earned a much-needed point in the standings as they head back home.

[COVERAGE BEGINS AT 6:30 P.M. ET ON NBCSN]

WHAT: Washington Capitals at Philadelphia Flyers
WHERE: Wells Fargo Center
WHEN: Wednesday, Jan. 8, 6:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
LIVE STREAM: You can watch the Capitals-Flyers stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

CAPITALS
Alex Ovechkin – Nick BackstromTom Wilson
Jakub VranaEvgeny Kuznetsov – T.J. Oshie
Carl HagelinLars EllerRichard Panik
Brendan LeipsicNic DowdGarnet Hathaway

Michal KempnyJohn Carlson
Dmitry OrlovNick Jensen
Jonas SiegenthalerRadko Gudas

Starting goalie: Braden Holtby

FLYERS
Claude GirouxSean CouturierTravis Konecny
James van RiemsdykKevin HayesNicolas Aube-Kubel
Tyler PitlickMichael RafflJakub Voracek
Scott LaughtonMikhail VorobyevJoel Farabee

Ivan ProvorovMatt Niskanen
Travis Sanheim – Philippe Myers
Robert HaggShayne Gostisbehere

Starting goalie: Carter Hart

Kathryn Tappen will host Wednesday’s coverage on NHL Live alongside Patrick Sharp and Keith Jones and Bob McKenzie. Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Brian Boucher will call Flyers-Capitals game from Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pa.

Sharks give away crucial point with late meltdown against Capitals

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It is going to take an incredible second half for the San Jose Sharks to play their way back into playoff position. They need wins, and a lot of them. They were in a prime position on Sunday afternoon to pick up one of their most impressive wins of the season and were one minute away from winning their third game in a row by beating one of the league’s best teams in Washington.

Then everything fell apart.

The Sharks gave up two goals in the final 47 seconds of regulation, and then a game-winning goal to Lars Eller two minutes into overtime, to drop a 5-4 decision to the Capitals.

How they got there

Evander Kane had a massive game for the Sharks, scoring three goals for his second hat trick of the season to give the Sharks a 3-2 lead late in the third period.

When Logan Couture scored an empty-net goal with one minute to play in regulation to increase the lead to 4-2 everything seemed to wrapped up for the Sharks. Things quickly unraveled from there.

Off the ensuing face-off the Capitals easily gained entry into the Sharks’ zone and then capitalized on a failed clear when Jakub Vrana scored on a spinning shot from between the circles. That cut the deficit to one.

Just 32 seconds later T.J. Oshie scored the game-tying goal when he found a soft spot in the Sharks’ defense and ripped a one-timer into the back of the net. It was all set up by a slick passing play in the corner by Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov.

Here is the game-tying sequence in the closing minute.

Bougher looks for positives

If you’re a Sharks fan and want to look at the bright side of things, they did go on the road and get a point from the best team in the league.

And for 59 minutes they did play really well. That was the message coach Bob Boughner tried to send across in his post-game interview.

“It’s tough to let that one get away, 4-2 with a minute to go. Third period we didn’t allow a lot 5-on-5, defensively we were pretty tight. You can take a million great things out of this game for us, but that’s why they lead the league, why they have the most points because they find ways to win games.

“As disappointed as I am, I am pretty content on the way our 5-on-5 game looks. You get a couple break downs, we don’t get one out on the wall in the 6-on-5. It comes back in our net. We ice one, we can’t get a couple centers out there on the next face-off, and things happen. All of that is forgotten if you score in overtime. We had a post, two-on-one, and a breakaway. That’s the way the game goes. We just have to concentrate on getting a day of rest tomorrow and taking the positives out of this one for the St. Louis game.”

Where they go from here

Bougher’s outlook is surprisingly optimistic given the way that game ended and where the Sharks are in the standings, but he’s also not entirely wrong.

The Sharks did do a lot of good things. There were positives to take out of it. And they have collected at least one point in five of their past six games (eight out of a possible 12). It is not hard to see things trending in a better direction. But still, when you are that far out of a playoff spot with that many teams ahead of you and have a chance to secure that second point you have to get it. You can not allow two goals in the final 60 seconds.

Things do not get any easier from here.

The Sharks’ schedule over the rest of January gets really intense, really fast. Their next 10 opponents include St. Louis, Colorado, Dallas, Arizona, Vancouver (twice), Columbus, and Tampa Bay. Other than Columbus (who is on an 8-1-4 run), all of those teams are currently in a playoff position and are among the hottest teams in the league.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

The Buzzer: Capitals withstand late surge from Hurricanes; Stars extend winning streak

The Washington Capitals celebrate a second period goal
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Three Stars

1)Ilya Samsonov, Washington Capitals

The rookie goaltender made 38 saves and became the second NHL goaltender to win his first eight road starts in the League. Braden Holtby has been the undisputed starter for a number of years in Washington and is a pending unrestricted free agent this summer. The Capitals’ front office will have a difficult decision to make with Samsonov proving that he can handle the responsibilities of a starting NHL goalie.

2) John Carlson, Washington Capitals

Carlson has established himself as the front-runner for the Norris Trophy this season and added to his prolific scoring totals with a beautiful assist in the Capitals’ 4-3 win against the Carolina Hurricanes Friday evening. Petr Mrazek skated to the top of the crease and Carlson feathered a pass from the point to Evgeny Kuznetsov at the side of the net for the easy tap-in goal. It was Carlson’s 14th power-play assist and 51st point of the season, which leads all NHL defensemen.

3) Joe Pavelski, Dallas Stars

Bigger things were expected when Pavelski inked a three-year contract with the Stars this past summer. However, the veteran forward displayed his two-way ability when he intercepted a puck in neutral ice, then wired a wrist shot off the post and into the back of the net in the Stars’ 4-1 victory against the Red Wings. It was his eighth of the season as Dallas extended its winning streak to four games which included a 4-2 win against the Predators in the 2020 Winter Classic.

Highlight of the Night

Roope Hintz scored the first of two shorthanded goals for the Stars on a 2-on-0 opportunity.

Stat of the Night

News from around the NHL

NHL Scores

Washington Capitals 4, Carolina Hurricanes 3

Dallas Stars 4, Detroit Red Wings 1

Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.

PHT Decade in Review: Most significant goals in hockey

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As 2019 comes to a close, we’re taking a look back at the past decade. We’ll remember the best players and teams, most significant goals, and biggest transactions that have happened since 2010. Let us know your memories in the comments.

What does everybody want? Goals! What does everybody need? Goals! What does everybody love? Goals!

From Jan. 1, 2010 through Dec. 23, 2019 there were 65,439 regular season goals scored in the NHL. The Penguins (2,425) had the most, while the Devils (1,892) had the fewest if you’re counting teams that played the entire decade (Vegas has 633 total).

While there have been tons of beautiful goals scored at various levels of hockey around the world, we wanted to hone in on the ones that meant the most. Not the prettiest, but the biggest, most significant goals of the last 10 years. Some won championships, others were the final part of a drama.

There’s lots to get to, so let’s begin.

John Carlson’s golden goal (2010 World Junior Championship)

Five days after Canada won 5-4 following a shootout in the preliminary round, the Americans got their revenge. Carlson’s overtime goal helped the U.S. win their first gold medal since 2004 and snapped Canada’s streak of six straight golds. It also began a decade of growth on the junior level for the program. U.S. teams at the World Juniors have won three gold medals since 2010 and seven medals in the last 10 tournaments.

Iggy! (2010 Winter Olympics)

Zach Parise gave the U.S. hope when he tied the game with 25 seconds left in the third period. But it was Crosby who delivered Canada gold as he called for the pass from Jarome Iginla and slid the puck by Ryan Miller for the country’s second gold medal in three Olympic Games. 

How much did the goal resonate? Crosby’s stick, gloves, the puck, and the net used in the game at GM Place were put on display at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

Patrick Kane‘s disappearing shot (2010 Stanley Cup Final)

At first only three people inside Wachovia Center — Kane, Patrick Sharp and Nick Boynton — knew the location of the puck. The rest of their Blackhawks teammates, the Flyers, including goaltender Michael Leighton, and the closest official had no idea, until upon closer inspection it was discovered a goal had been scored and the Blackhawks were Stanley Cup champions.

Alex Burrows slays the dragon (2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs)

The Canucks had their Stanley Cup dreams ended in Round 2 two consecutive playoffs at the hands of the Blackhawks. Both the 2009 and 2010 series ended in six games, but the third time would be the charm for Vancouver and Burrows would be the hero. Chris Campoli’s clearance was blocked by Burrows, who then fled into the Chicago zone and fired a rocket by Antti Niemi, earning himself the “dragon slayer” nickname.

Bergeron completes the comeback vs. Maple Leafs (2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs)

The Maple Leafs were looking good up 4-1 midway through the third period of Game 7 against the Bruins and eyeing their first playoff series win in nine years. But then it all fell apart. Nathan Horton cut the lead to 4-2 with 10:42 to go and a wild final two minutes in the third period ended with Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron scoring 31 seconds apart to force overtime.

In the extra period it was Bergeron again completing the dramatic comeback to send the Maple Leafs home and the Bruins on a path to the Stanley Cup Final.

Gone in 17 seconds (2013 Stanley Cup Final)

A few weeks after their series win over the Maple Leafs, the Bruins were on the other end of a dramatic comeback, one that would end their season. Boston held a 2-1 lead late in Game 6, hoping to hang on and force a Game 7 in Chicago. With the Blackhawks’ net empty, it was Brian Bickell tying the game with 1:16 to play. As many were preparing to see overtime, Bolland had other ideas as 17 seconds later he pounced on a rebound in front to send the Blackhawks to a second Cup win in four years.

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The T.J. Oshie Show (2014 Winter Olympics)

There was no medal on the line. The only meaning to the game was that the winner avoided the qualification round. A shootout was needed and the U.S. turned to T.J. Oshie, who scored on four of his six attempts to help the Americans beat Russia 3-2.

The game took place in the early hours of a Saturday morning in the U.S., and the reactions from around the country of fans who gathered in local bars to watch showed the impact of the victory. (It also provided us with this amazing photo.)

Poulin shatters American dreams again (2014 Winter Olympics)

The U.S. should have claimed gold. Up 2-1 with under two minutes to play, Kelli Stack’s shot toward an empty net clanked off the post and gave Canada life. Thirty-one seconds later Marie-Philip Poulin broke the Americans’ hearts for the first time that day, tying the game with 54.6 seconds left. She did it again in overtime to continue Canada’s gold medal run at the Olympics.

This wasn’t the first time Philip-Poulin shattered American dreams. Four years earlier she scored both goals to lead her country to gold over the U.S. at the Vancouver Games.

Martinez the Cup winning King (2014 Stanley Cup Final)

One overtime wasn’t enough for the Kings and Rangers, who settled the 2014 Cup Final with a second extra period. With the Kings leading the series 3-1, the fans inside Staples Center were chanting We Want the Cup! and Martinez, who scored the overtime winner in Game 7 of the Western Conference Final, delivered leading a rush into the Rangers’ zone and burying a feed from Tyler Toffoli to help franchise capture its first championship.

Islanders finally advance to Round 2 (2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs)

The eighth time was the charm. Since the spring of 1993 when David Volek shattered Pittsburgh’s three-peat dreams and the Islanders reached the conference final, the franchise could not find a way out of the first round of the playoffs. But a second consecutive 100-point season was boosted by captain Tavares’ double overtime wraparound to get the monkey off their backs.

Kunitz keeps Penguins’ back-to-back dreams alive (2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs)

It was a goal that sent two franchises in two different directions. Kunitz’s goal sent the Penguins to the Cup Final that season, which they could win in six games over the Predators to give the NHL back-to-back champs for the first time in two decades. The goal also ended a memorable run by the Senators, who topped the Bruins and Rangers to reach the Eastern Conference Final for the first time since 2007. Since that night, Ottawa has failed to make the playoffs, failed to reach 67 points and win more than 28 games in a season. They also said goodbye to players like Mark Stone, Erik Karlsson, Kyle Turris, Mike Hoffman, Ryan Dzingel, and Derick Brassard, among others.

Oops, I did it again (2018 Winter Olympics)

Her sister, Monique Lamoureux-Morando, forced overtime, so to keep it a family affair, Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson helped the U.S. women earn their first Olympic gold medal since 1998 with the shootout winner. The move was six years in the making and ended Canada’s streak of four straight Olympic golds.

Kuznetsov’s winner exorcises demons (2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs)

It seemed like the Capitals were never going to win the Stanley Cup unless they beat the Penguins. They hadn’t topped their old rivals in seven straight playoff series dating back to 1994, but this one felt different. The back-and-forth series finally came to an end when Evgeny Kuznetsov slipped the puck five-hole on Matt Murray, sending Washington on a path that would end with its first championship.

The game had it all (2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs)

After blowing a 3-1 series lead the Golden Knights were up 3-1 on the Sharks in Game 7 and things were looking good. But then Cody Eakin cross-checked Joe Pavelski, who fell awkwardly and hit his head on the ice, causing the game to stop for several minutes. Eakin was given a major penalty and game misconduct, opening the door for the San Jose power play to score four times in four minutes to completely alter the game. In overtime, Barclay Goodrow made the SAP Center roof fly off with the winning goal to send the Sharks to Round 2.

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Maroon’s goal cues Play Gloria! (2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs)

It was fitting that the St. Louisan returns home on a one-year deal and scores one of the biggest goals of the season. Round 2, Game 7 against the Dallas Stars and it was Maroon who played hero inside Enterprise Center. The goal set off wild celebrations on the ice and and in the bowels of the arena as the Laura Branigan song Gloria played over and over. Thirty-six days later the Blues would win their first Cup to kick off a summer of partying.

MORE PHT DECADE IN REVIEW FUN:
• Top NHL players in fantasy hockey
• Best players of the decade
• Favorite goals, best/worst jerseys
Best NHL teams of the decade
Biggest NHL trades

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.