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Caps Today, 5/23/18

May 23, 2018
The Capitals face the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena tonight in Game 7 of the 2018 Eastern Conference Final. The Capitals won Game 6, 3-0, at Capital One Arena on May 21 and the series is tied 3-3. 

Wednesday marks the Capitals’ 16th Game 7 in franchise playoff history and Washington’s seventh Game 7 in the last seven years (2012-18). Washington's 11 Game 7 appearances since 2008 are the most in the NHL. Braden Holtby has recorded a 2.10 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage in five career Game 7s. Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin are set to make their 11th career Game 7 appearances, one shy of Boston's Zdeno Chara (12) for the most among active NHL players. In addition to Chara, only five other players in NHL history have appeared in more Game 7s (Patrick Roy:13; Scott Stevens: 13; Glenn Anderson: 12; Ken Daneyko: 12; and Stephane Yelle: 12). Ovechkin and Backstrom’s 10 Game 7 together as teammates are the most by any two players in NHL history. In 22 career games when the Capitals have faced elimination, Ovechkin has registered 20 points (10g, 10a) and Backstrom has recorded 18 points (5g, 13a).

TOP GAME NOTES

Holtbeast – In the Capitals’ Game 6 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, Braden Holtby stopped all 24 shots he faced to secure a 3-0 win. That marked Holtby’s first shutout of the postseason, the fifth shutout in his playoff career and one shy of Olie Kolzig for the franchise record. Holtby did not record a shutout during the regular season, and that makes him the seventh goaltender in NHL history to record his first shutout of the season (both playoff and regular) in an elimination game, and just the second player in franchise history to record a shutout in an elimination game (Semyon Varlamov: 2009 versus the New York Rangers). Holtby has posted a record of 11-6 in the playoffs with a 2.16 goals against average and a .919 save percentage. Holtby is one win shy of tying the franchise record for most wins in a postseason by a goaltender, set by Kolzig in Washington’s run to the 1998 Stanley Cup Final (12-9). Holtby ranks second in NHL playoff history (min. 50 games played) in career save percentage and fourth in career goals-against average among goaltenders with at least 60 games. In addition, Holtby is tied for first among active NHL goaltenders (min. 20 games played) in career playoff save percentage and first in goals-against average. Holtby has allowed two goals or fewer in 48 of his 76 career playoff games and Washington has posted a 34-14 record in those games. In career elimination games in the playoffs, Holtby has a 1.87 goals against average, a .932 save percentage and a shutout.

Kuz Control - Evgeny Kuznetsov extended his point streak to nine games (6g, 8a) in Game 6. Kuznetsov, who has 23 points (11g, 12a) in the playoffs, set a new franchise mark for points in a postseason. Kuznetsov also became the second player in franchise history to record points in nine-consecutive playoff games (Nicklas Backstrom: 2009, nine games, 3g, 8a). Dating back to Feb. 24, Kuznetsov has 51 points (22g, 29a) in 36 games. Additionally, Kuznetsov is the eighth Russian-born player to record double digits in goals for a single playoff year and the fifth to do so at 25 or younger. In 57 career playoff games, Kuznetsov has recorded 42 points (22g, 20a) - the 13th-most in franchise history and one shy of Mike Gartner for 12th place in franchise history.

The Great Eight – Alex Ovechkin has registered 21 points  (11g, 10a) in 17 games this postseason. Ovechkin's 21 points are two shy of Evgeny Kuznetsov's current mark this postseason (Kuznetsov: 11g, 12a), which is the all-time franchise mark for points in a postseason. Ovechkin is now three goals shy of the franchise record for most goals in postseason set by John Druce, when he scored 14 goals in 15 games in 1990. In addition, Ovechkin has 57 career postseason goals, which is tied with Cam Neely and Henrik Zetterberg for the 40th most in NHL history. Ovechkin is tied for fourth among active players in career playoff goals. Ovechkin is tied for second in the NHL with 11 goals in the playoffs. Additionally, Ovechkin is tied for third among active NHL players (min. 20 games played) in career playoff goals per game (0.50) and tied for seventh in playoff points per game (0.97). Among the top 10 active career playoff goal scorers, Ovechkin ranks fourth, and his 0.50 goals per game ranks first among player on that list. In 115 career playoff games, Ovechkin has 111 points (57g, 54a), and ranks first in franchise history in playoff games played, goals, points, power play goals (19), power play points (48), game-winning goals (7), shots (523) and second in assists.

Nisky Business - In Game 6, Matt Niskanen recorded a team-high 68.18 shot attempt for percentage (30 shot attempts for, 14 shot attempts against). Additionally, Niskanen was on the ice for 17 scoring chances for and two against and 17 shots on goal and four against at five-on-five. Earlier this postseason, Niskanen passed Rod Langway for the eighth most career playoff assists by a defenseman in franchise history (Langway: 16). Four of Niskanen's assists have been primary assists during five-on-five play, tied for the most on the team (Evgeny Kuznetsov, Jakub Vrana), and his seven assists during five-on-five play leads the Capitals. Additionally, at even-strength, Niskanen has been on the ice for 19 goals, the third-most on the team.

Hitmen - The Capitals recorded 39 hits in Game 6, the most they have recorded in a game in the series. The Capitals have recorded 576 hits in the postseason, the second-most in the NHL. Tom Wilson leads the playoffs with 67 hits, and Devante Smith-Pelly ranks second with 66. In 143 career playoff games, Brooks Orpik has registered 558 hits, the most among active players in the NHL, while Alex Ovechkin has recorded 482 hits, the third-most among active players.

Must Read/See/Hear Material

Dump ‘n Chase: Best Of One / Postgame Notebook: Caps 3, Bolts 0

Washington Post: ‘The biggest game of our life’: Capitals brace for Game 7 vs. Lightning / Tampa Bay is no stranger to Game 7’s in Eastern Conference finals / Express: Capitals have a familiar, yet foreign hill to climb in Game 7 / Boswell: The Capitals’ best chance to shed their demons? Embrace the moment. / Svrluga: Game 7 puts Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin in familiar role: Squarely in the spotlight / Fancy Stats: Heading into Game 7, Capitals are firing on all cylinders / D.C. Sports Bog: Was Caps’ win the greatest in Capital One Arena history? It looked and sounded like it.

Washington Times: Five unheralded players have been difference-makers in playoffs for Capitals / Loverro: Capitals need someone in Game 7 to take legendary ‘one giant leap’

NBC Sports Washington:   5 keys for the Caps to win Game 7 and advance to the Stanley Cup Final/ Caps push Lightning around in Game 6 with physical game plan

NHL.com: Ovechkin, Capitals seek redemption in Game 7 against Lightning / Capitals, Trotz have 'all in it together' approach to Game 7 / Capitals, Lightning set for Game 7 in Eastern Conference Final / Golden Knights hoping for marathon Game 7 between Lightning, Capitals / Mailbag: Ovechkin all-time great with or without Stanley Cup

AP: Ovechkin, Capitals prepare for ‘biggest game of life’

The Athletic: NHL playoffs probabilities (updated daily)

Bay News 9: Win or go home: Lightning, Caps face off in Game 7

Bleacher Report: NHL Playoff Bracket 2018: Upcoming Conference Finals Dates, TV Schedule and Odds

Calgary Sun: Former Flames forward MacLellan plays key role in building Capitals into contender

ESPN: Frozen out: Why no NHL players made the World Fame 100 list (Alex Ovechkin mentioned)

Golf Digest: Recent Game 7 history suggests the Washington Capitals have a much better chance than you think

Infosurhoy: Ovechkin, Capitals want to make most of opportunity in Game 7 against Lightning

National Post: It's happened before: Does the losing coach in Capitals-Lightning Game 7 face unemployment?

NBC Sports: Lightning need to ‘push back’ after missed opportunity in Game 6

Sporting News: NHL playoffs 2018: A 'different' Capitals team faces another familiar demon — Game 7

Sports Capitol: Game 7 nothing new for capitals

Sports Illustrated: Capitals Look to Ride Momentum While Lightning Rely on Experience for Game 7 / A Brief History of NHL Conference Finals Game 7s

SportsNet: Holtby confident heading into biggest game of his NHL career, again

Sports Xchange: Do or die as Lightning host Caps in Game 7

TSN: Pens GM Rutherford calls out Tom Wilson for backing down from Jamie Oleksiak in Caps Penguins series

USA Today: Alex Ovechkin finally has the right mix that could take Capitals to Stanley Cup Final / Do Capitals or Lightning win Game 7, reach Stanley Cup Final? Golden Knights await.

WJLA: Washington Capitals hosting free Game 7 viewing party at Capital One Arena

WTOP: Capitals look to create new Game 7 memories in Eastern Conference Final / Seeing red: Caps announce Game 7 viewing party

WUSA 9: Capitals will host Game 7 viewing party at Capital One Arena on May 23 / Washington Capitals playoff fever strikes Maryland Terrapins lacrosse / 5 of the most popular superstitions in sports (Capitals mentioned)

TV/Audio Clips:

Washington Capitals: All-Access | Facing EliminationBarry Trotz | May 22 / Jay Beagle | May 22 / Matt Niskanen | May 22 / Alex Ovechkin | May 22

106.7 The Fan: Chad Dukes vs. the World: 5-22-18 Hour 1 - Barry Svrluga (7:48) / Chad Dukes vs. the World: 5-22-18 Hour 4 - Chris Russell on the Caps (35:48) / Grant and Danny: 5.22.18 Hour 1: Caps win Game 6 (12:53) / Grant and Danny: 5.22.18 Hour 2: Craig Laughlin Interview (0:05) / Grant and Danny: 5.22.18 Hour 3: Nervous for the Caps? (10:44) / Grant and Danny: 5.22.18 Hour 4: Caps news and notes, Al Koken Interview (13:41, 20:20)

CBC: Caps, Lightning have love-hate relationship with Game 7's

ESPN New York 98.7: Game Misconduct Podcast: Caps send series to Game 7

NBC Sports: Confident Holtby the difference-maker in Game 6

NBC Sports Washington: Capitals Faceoff Podcast: A trip to the Stanley Cup Final is on the line / Rod Langway has a good feeling about this year's Caps team

NHL.com: NHL LiveWire: WSH vs. TBL, Gm5

NHL Network: NHL Tonight: Breaking down Game 6 / NHL Now: Capitals force Game 7 / NHL Tonight: Cup Final picks / NHL Now: Jaffe and Pang / NHL Now: One-timer demo (Alex Ovechkin mentioned) / NHL Now: Special Teams Breakdown / NHL Now: Smith-Pelly's goal / NHL Now: Yes Ma'am, No Ma'am (Capitals mentioned)

SportsNet: Tim & Sid: Capitals Have Momentum Heading Into Game 7?

TSN: StatsCentre: Backstrom is Back / Who has the edge in Game 7 - Capitals or Lightning? / Capitals have a ton of confidence heading into Game 7

TSN Edmonton 1260: Wyshynski: If Capitals repeat Game 6 effort, they're off to the Cup Final

TSN Ottawa 1200: McGuire: Caps punished the Lightning physically to win Game 6

TSN Vancouver 1040: McKenzie: Capitals have been the better team; Vasilevskiy can steal a win / Raby: Ovechkin set the tone for the rest of the team in Game 6

WJLA-TV ABC 7: Weather Report on the Capitals Game 7 Viewing Party (6 a.m.) / On the Capitals Game 7 Viewing Party (5 a.m.) / On the Capitals Game 7 Viewing Party (4 a.m.) / On the Capitals Game 7 Viewing Party (5 p.m.) / On the Capitals Game 7 Viewing Party (4 p.m.) / On the Capitals Game 7 Viewing Party (12 p.m.)

WRC-TV NBC 4: On the Capitals Game 7 Viewing Party (6 a.m.) / On the Capitals Game 7 Viewing Party (5 a.m.) / On the Capitals Game 7 Viewing Party (5 p.m.)

WTTG-TV FOX 5: On the Capitals Game 7 Viewing Party (6 a.m.) / On the Capitals Game 7 Viewing Party (5 a.m.) / On the Capitals Game 7 Viewing Party (5 a.m.) / On the Capitals Game 7 Viewing Party (8 a.m.) / Weather Report on the Capitals Game 7 Viewing Party (7 a.m.) / On the Capitals Game 7 Viewing Party with Mascot Slapshot (7 a.m.)

WUSA-TV CBS 9: On the Capitals Game 7 Viewing Party (6 a.m.) / On the Capitals Game 7 Viewing Party (6 a.m.) / On the Capitals Game 7 Viewing Party (5 a.m.) / On the Capitals Game 7 Viewing Party (4 a.m.) / On the Capitals Game 7 Viewing Party (5 a.m.) / On the Capitals Game 7 Viewing Party (7 p.m.) / On the Capitals Game 7 Viewing Party (11 p.m.) / On the Capitals Game 7 Viewing Party (5 p.m.)

WTOP: On the Capitals Game 7 Viewing Party

WNST: Caps historian Ted Starkey tells Nestor what Game 7 means in Tampa

Lightning Clips:

The Athletic: Lightning expect Nikita Kucherov to rise to occasion after ‘invisible performance’ in Game 6

NHL.com: Lightning hope experience helps in Game 7 against Capitals / Lightning must generate more offense against Capitals in Game 7

Raw Charge: Quick Strikes: Getting ready for a game 7

TampaBayLightning.com: Lightning vs. Capitals: Projected lines, storylines, injuries

Tampa Bay Times: Lightning-Capitals: The most compelling Game 7 personality / The key stat for Lightning-Capitals Game 7? Score first / Lightning-Capitals: Tampa Bay’s Game 7 to-do list / Lightning journal: You gotta love Game 7s / Lightning-Capitals: Tampa Bay’s Game 7 Mr. Essential / Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Lightning squanders chance to close out Capitals / Game 7 odds and ends as you wait for Lightning-Capitals on Wednesday

GAME NOTES  
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