‘It’s not in his game’: Capitals coach Trotz defends Ovechkin after controversial slash

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Alex Ovechkin has been front and center a few times in the past few days.

He’s been accused of diving, continues to score goals, including another pretty one Tuesday, and, in the same game, he sent Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang sliding hard into the end boards after a slash to the back of the leg early in the third period.

There was no call on the play.

What ensued next was the Penguins trying to get revenge on Ovechkin, though the star wouldn’t bite. He smiled, though.

The Capitals took advantage of the Penguins’ lack of discipline in the final 20 minutes, scoring on a late power-play to win the game 3-1.

Washington’s head coach Barry Trotz defended Ovechkin after the game.

Their stories remain the same: Ovechkin’s intent was to hit the puck, which Letang was working to maintain control of with the Capitals captain on the forecheck.

“If you look at it, Ovi’s just trying to whack at the puck there,” said Trotz, as per CSN Washington.

“I looked at it on TV. From behind you can’t even see the puck, but from the front view you can see the puck is right by [Letang’s] skate and he actually moves his skate in front of the puck and Ovi sort of tries to throw it at the net.

“Letang slid a little bit, he tried to get his balance and went into the boards. I think you’re making a lot out of nothing. The ice is really slippery in the beginning of a period. Ovi doesn’t do that. It’s not in his game.”

Penguins let emotions get the better of them in loss to Capitals

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In a tied game, third period, on home ice, the Pittsburgh Penguins seemed more interested in retribution at times, after Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin caught Kris Letang with a wicked slash that wasn’t called.

What eventually happened, as the Penguins lost their cool and took a parade to the penalty box?

The Capitals took the lead, as Joel Ward scored on a beautiful passing play with less than five minutes remaining in the third period. They’d go on to defeat the rival Penguins by a final score of 3-1, and now possess the league’s second-best power play at 23.6 per cent after Tuesday.

Ovechkin scored his league-leading 37th goal of the season in the first period. Two of Washington’s goals came on the power play, which would certainly illustrate the need for a more disciplined effort from Pittsburgh, especially in such a tight game, even if it did get chippy.

“I’m not blaming the refs or the Capitals. I think it’s on us. You can be mad over a call. You can be disappointed. But you can’t let it get to your game,” said Pittsburgh defenseman Rob Scuderi, as per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

“I like the fact that we responded and didn’t take a lot of crap from them.

“But at the same time, we have to know the line to toe.”

Video: Ovechkin catches Letang with nasty slash

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Emotions started to boil over between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals, after Alex Ovechkin caught Kris Letang with a wicked slash to the back of the leg early in the third period of Tuesday’s game.

There was no call on the play. Shortly after that happened, Chris Kunitz went after Ovechkin, who merely smiled and skated away.

Letang went crashing into the end boards, and briefly left the game. He did return for the Penguins.

The Capitals went on to defeat the rival Penguins by a final score of 3-1. The winning goal, off the stick of Joel Ward, came during a two-man advantage for Washington with less than five minutes remaining in the third period.

Ovechkin had his say on the matter after the game, saying the slash was not intentional and he was going for the puck.

Video: Ovechkin goes backhand, top corner to add to his NHL lead in goals

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Alex Ovechkin, he of more hair on his head than Ryan Getzlaf, has added to his league-leading goal total on Tuesday.

The Washington Capitals star picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone, then split the Pittsburgh Penguins defense before beating Marc-Andre Fleury with a move to the backhand in the first period.

From the NHL’s Situation Room:

At 18:36 of the first period in the Washington Capitals/Pittsburgh Penguins game, video review supported the referee’s call on the ice that Alex Ovechkin’s shot crossed the Pittsburgh goal line before rebounding off the back bar in the net. Good goal Washington.

That’s goal No. 37 for Ovechkin. It also follows a four-point performance against the Anaheim Ducks, in which Getzlaf accused Ovechkin of diving.

Goalie nods: It has to be Johnson for the Isles… right? (Update: Yep)

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All the latest from the crease…

Who goes for New York?

The Islanders won’t announce their starting goalie until 5 p.m. ET today, so we don’t know if it’s Chad Johnson or Jaroslav Halak in net for tonight’s affair against Carolina.

Update: It’s Johnson.

One would suspect Johnson gets the nod, given tonight is the second of a back-to-back; Halak played last night, and allowed six goals on 42 shots in an emotional loss to the Rangers.

That said, head coach Jack Capuano could possibly be persuaded to let Halak try and bounce back; the 29-year-old Slovak looked rattled and a bit shaky as the Blueshirts made a concerted effort to get into his kitchen.

Related: The Isles are surrendering too many goals

“I want to get shots,” captain Ryan McDonagh said, per Newsday. “We wanted to make it more difficult on Halak tonight than in other past games. He’s been a big difference in why we haven’t been able to beat them in the past.

“We talked about getting in front of the net and making it tough on him, make him fight through screens. We were a lot hungrier in front of him for sure.”

No word yet on who’ll start in goal for the ‘Canes.

Elsewhere…

Blue Jackets at Flyers: Curtis McElhinney vs. Ray Emery

Caps at Pens: Braden Holtby vs. Marc-Andre Fleury

Sabres at Devils: Cory Schneider for New Jersey, Michal Neuvirth likely for Buffalo.

Panthers at Leafs: Roberto Luongo vs. Jonathan Bernier

Stars at Blues: Brian Elliott for St. Louis, Kari Lehtonen likely for Dallas.

Sharks at Preds: Alex Stalock for San Jose, Pekka Rinne likely for Nashville.