Ovechkin, Holtby set to guest on The Tonight Show

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There will be some must-see TV on Monday night.

Alex Ovechkin, made famous in recent hours by such exploits a this and this, and Braden Holtby, who has done this, and this in roughly the same timeframe, will stumble their way onto the set of NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on Monday.

The two 2018 Stanley Cup champions will grace the legendary stage at 11:35 p.m. ET. 

[RELATED: Capitals enjoy day with Stanley Cup at Nationals game]

It remains to be seen if either man will have sobered up by the airing of the episode.

There’s evidence out there that suggests the Conn Smythe winner Ovechkin took a slight break from his onslaught on liquor bottles and swimming in two-inch deep bodies of water.

Meanwhile, Capitals forward Jakub Vrana did many things on Saturday, including getting tattoos of their Stanley Cup triumph with Andre Burakovsky.

His whole Instagram story is something to behold, and if you have some free seconds, should watch it in its entirety.

Here’s a sneak peek:

This might be the greatest Stanley Cup victory celebration since this:


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

The Buzzer: Capitals near curse’s end, Connor breaks out against Predators

Associated Press
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Saturday’s results

Washington Capitals 6, Pittsburgh Penguins 3 (Capitals lead series 3-2): Pittsburgh held leads early in the first and at the start of the third period but blew them both as the Capitals put themselves within striking distance of the Eastern Conference Final. Jakub Vrana led the way for the Capitals, scoring the game-winner and adding two helpers. Braden Holtby stood tall, making a remarkable save prior to Vrana’s goal, while shutting the door on 36 of Pittsburgh’s 39 shots.

Winnipeg Jets 6, Nashville Predators 2 (Jets lead series 3-2): If you watch the first period, you’d have thought Nashville was in the driver’s seat. And they were, until the second period at least. Then Kyle Connor and the Winnipeg Jets got going and nothing stopped them. Connor scored twice, Connor Hellebuyck stood tall and the Jets head back to Winnipeg with a chance to put themselves into the penultimate round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Monday.

Three stars

Kyle Connor, Jets: Connor led the league in rookie goal scoring with 31 markers during the regular season but hadn’t scored in nine playoff games. He picked a good time to start on Saturday, notching two goals and setting up Mark Scheifele with a filthy pass for a three-point night.

Jakub Vrana, Capitals: A little promotion never hurt anyone… well, except the Penguins. Vrana got a bump up to Washington’s top line and immediately made the most of the opportunity with the game-winning goal and two assists, including one on the third-period marker that tied the game.

Blake Wheeler, Jets: Three assists, including a beauty to set up Connor’s second of the game. Wheeler had the wherewithal to know he had no chance of scoring on the play and found Connor coming into the slot. He found him, the Jets scored. C’est la vie.

Highlights

This pass:

This save, and then the goal:

Kuznetsov’d:

Factoids

Saturday night’s all right for rookies:

Sunday’s schedule

Boston Bruins vs. Tampa Bay Lightning, 3 p.m. ET (NBC) — Lightning lead series 3-1

Vegas Golden Knights vs. San Jose Sharks, 7:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN) — Golden Knights lead series 3-2


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

Washington Capitals one win away from ending playoff curse

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Could the curse finally be coming to an end?

The Washington Capitals defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-3 on Saturday night to take a 3-2 series lead, putting the two-time defending Stanley Cup champs on the brink of playoff elimination and putting the Capitals on the brink of ending a curse that has plagued them for over two decades.

The Penguins are 9-1 all-time against the Capitals in the playoffs, including winning the past seven encounters dating back to 1995. Most recently, the Capitals have been shown the door in consecutive seasons in the second round by the Penguins, this despite the Capitals owning a superior regular season record.

This time, the Capitals might actually prove their worth.

The Capitals were resilient in Game 5. After Jamie Oleksiak gave the Penguins an early lead in the first period, the Capitals rallied late in the frame, scoring twice in 33 seconds.

The Caps found themselves in penalty trouble in the second period and got behind 3-2 after Sidney Crosby and Patric Hornqvist converted on two of those man-advantages, but would rattle off four straight in the third period (including two empty-net goals) to take the series lead back to Pittsburgh for Game 6 on Monday.

Jakub Vrana, who got a bump to Washington’s top line, didn’t disappoint, scoring the game-winner on a nice rush from Alex Ovechkin. Vrana also provided the assist that saw Evgeny Kuznetsov fire home the game-tying goal earlier in the period and added another helper in the first.

And don’t sleep on Holtby’s save just before the game-winning rush. Holtby stopped 36-of-39 to help the Capitals past their arch-playoff-nemesis in this one. Matt Murray allowed 26-on-30 for a less notable outing.

Despite the Capitals being up a game, the pressure is squarely on them to finish this series and put themselves in the Eastern Conference Final.

Team’s that take a 3-2 series lead have a near-80 percent chance of moving on. But the numbers that have swirled around in favor of the Capitals have never meant much in this matchup.

Pittsburgh has all the experience in the world to still win this in seven, so Washington has to manage their minds more than anything starting on Monday evening.


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

Capitals ink first-round pick Vrana

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The Washington Capitals have their 2014 first-round pick officially locked up.

The team announced they’ve signed 13th overall selection Jakub Vrana to his three-year entry-level contract. Vrana played at Linkoping in the Swedish Hockey League last season and that’s where he’ll likely be playing again next season unless his performance in training camp dictates otherwise.

Vrana, a Czech Republic native, has been a star for their national team at the World Junior Championships and Under-18 World Championships. As Chuck Gormley of CSNWashington.com shared, the Caps think highly of his abilities.

“He obviously has shown really good speed,” Caps assistant general manager Ross Mahoney said last week. “In a shootout he showed his hands and his slap shot is one that not a lot of people are going to be able to stop.”

If Vrana impresses enough in camp, that’d put the Caps in curious position to possibly go with a lot of youth as they’ll have 2013 first-round pick Andre Burakovsky also pushing to make the club.

PHT Morning Skate: Free agency day is upon us

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

It’s the day that virtually signals the start of a new season while putting an end to the previous one. Today, fans, your team molds its future by signing (or avoiding signing) players to new potentially gigantic new deals beginning at noon ET.

Buckle up, it should be wild. As for what’s happening…

Looks like Columbus’ Derek MacKenzie, Jack Skille, and Blake Comeau are headed for UFA status at noon. (Columbus Dispatch)

Looks like Detroit’s shopping list on defense consists of Dan Boyle and Matt Niskanen. Christian Ehrhoff no longer in the hunt. (Mlive.com)

The St. Louis Blues are going to go hardest after Paul Stastny. (Post-Dispatch)

Caps first-round pick Jakub Vrana met Barry Trotz for the first time in… the men’s room? (CSNWashington.com)

It’s not only free agency day, but it’s also Canada Day and that hasn’t always been a great thing for the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Toronto Sun)

It’s pretty wild the Vancouver Canucks are seemingly hottest after goalie Ryan Miller this summer, isn’t it? (Toronto Sun)

Yeah, Willie Mitchell will be with a different team next season. (L.A. Times)

Sabres GM Tim Murray knows the rebuild is on his shoulders even though it started before he got there. Good thing he landed Sam Reinhart in the draft. (NHL.com)