Watch: Alex Ovechkin with epic celebration after go-ahead goal

Alex Ovechkin was feeling it after pouring in the go-ahead goal Monday night as his Washington Capitals attempted to close out their series against Carolina.

Ovechkin made a brilliant shot before going absolutely wild with an epic celebration in front of the road crowd.

This was Ovechkin’s fourth goal of the playoffs so far. He’s on fire right now, just like his celebration game.

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By Jesse Reed

Watch: Alex Ovechkin knocks out Andrei Svechnikov in fight

Alex Ovechkin wasn’t looking to get into a fight during Game 3 of the Carolina Hurricanes-Washington Capitals first round playoff series on Monday night, but once he engaged, he looked to end it quickly.

Carolina’s Andrei Svechnikov kept dogging Ovechkin, trying to bait him into a fight during the first period. Ovechkin seemed to be declining at first but then dropped gloves.

He took a shot or two and then unloaded two big right hands to drop Svechnikov:

If the sight of Ovechkin fighting seemed odd to you, it should. That was only his fourth career fight, according to HockeyFights.com. His record is now 1-3 with this one knockout.

By: Larry Brown

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Top 15 Dates to Watch in the 2018-19 NHL Season

We’re just a few weeks removed from the Washington Capitals clinching the Stanley Cup and we’re already looking ahead to the 2018-19 season.
The Capitals kick off their title defense on Oct. 3 at home against the Boston Bruins, a team with high hopes of their own entering the season, and that’s only the start of the fun. Washington will also have a new twist on its rivalry with the Pittsburgh Penguins as the Caps will get a rematch with their Cup Final nemeses.
With a host of rumored big-name trades, the NHL draft and free agency in the coming days of the offseason, there’ll be plenty more dates to circle on the hockey calendar, but here’s what we’ve already got our eyes on for the upcoming season:

OCTOBER 3, 2018: BRUINS @ CAPITALS
After a summer of raging partying, Alex Ovechkin and Co. will raise their championship banner to the Capital One Arena rafters. Barry Trotz won’t be behind the bench, but it will be the first step in the Caps’ Stanley Cup title defense.

OCTOBER 4, 2018: CAPITALS @ PENGUINS
Any game between these two has been a hyped-up matchup since Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby entered the league, but with Ovi having added a Cup to his resume—and the Caps having finally gone through the Penguins to get it—this matchup will have some new twists thrown in for good measure.

OCTOBER 6, 2018: OILERS VS. DEVILS
Ted Lindsay award winner Connor McDavid and the Oilers will face off against reigning Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall and the Devils in Gothenburg, Sweden.

OCTOBER 10, 2018: GOLDEN KNIGHTS @ CAPITALS
It’s a Stanley Cup Final rematch, the first time the teams meet in the season. Things may look a little different on the ice for both after free agency (John Carlson, James Neal, etc.), though the competition level shouldn’t disappoint.

NOVEMBER 1-2, 2018: PANTHERS VS. JETS
The Panthers and Jets take things abroad to Helsinki, which will be a fun homecoming for Finnish natives and burgeoning superstars Patrik Laine and Aleksander Barkov.

NOVEMBER 23, 2018: RANGERS @ FLYERS
The Metropolitan Division rivals will take the ice for the Thanksgiving Day Showdown at Wells Fargo Center in an afternoon matchup that will give fans something to watch as they emerge from turkey-induced comas.

NOVEMBER 28, 2018: DUCKS @ PANTHERS
This game marks a matchup between two teams celebrating their 25th seasons in the NHL. It doesn’t seem all that long ago that they were part of the 1993-94 expansion, but both have come a long way since their expansion draft days, especially in the uniform department.

DECEMBER 23, 2018: KINGS @ GOLDEN KNIGHTS
The first of four matchups between two burgeoning rivals and a pair of the league’s premier smack-talking twitter accounts. Based on your personal preferences, consider this your notice to prepare to log on, log off or set up your muted terms well in advance. We’re guessing Vegas won’t hesitate to mention a playoff sweep, but we’re also eager to see how Los Angeles fires back.

JANUARY 1, 2019: BRUINS @ BLACKHAWKS
It seems like the Bruins and Blackhawks have been featured in every outdoor NHL game—they’ve combined to be in five of 10 Winter Classic matchups so far—but on New Year’s Day at Notre Dame Stadium, they’ll go head-to-head in the elements for the first time.

JANUARY 11, 2019: SABRES @ HURRICANES
OK, so maybe this one is looking a little too far ahead for a couple of reasons, but if everything goes as planned, this would be the first matchup between the top two picks in the 2018 draft, Rasmus Dahlin and Andrei Svechnikov. It should be a fun look at two players leading the way for their rebuilding franchises.

JANUARY 18, 2019: ISLANDERS @ CAPITALS
Barry Trotz, who resigned from the Capitals earlier this week and has all but taken the coaching vacancy with the Islanders just days after, returns to D.C. with his new team.

JANUARY 25-26: NHL ALL-STAR WEEKEND
The always-fun Skills competition takes place on Friday in San Jose at the SAP Center and will provide all the GIF-able moments fans can handle and at least one big-name player will steal the show. On Saturday, buckle up for another installment of the 3-on-3 All-Star tournament and another chance for an unlikely hero to emerge.

FEBRUARY 23, 2019: PENGUINS @ FLYERS
The Keystone State rivals bring their game outdoors for the second time in three seasons as part of the NHL Stadium Series at Lincoln Financial Field.

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By:Michael Blinn

Caps Continue to Win, Drop 5 Goals on Hurricanes

Written by Stephen Whyno at YahooSports.com

Capitals coach Barry Trotz thinks his team is tough for anyone to handle when all its lines are clicking.

It’s a pretty easy case to make right now.

Washington got contributions up and down the lineup and put up another 5-spot in thumping the Carolina Hurricanes 5-0 on Tuesday night for their fourth consecutive win. Washington has won 10 in a row at home and scored five-plus goals in the last nine of those games, with the offense coming from just about everywhere.

Alex Ovechkin scored his 26th goal of the season, Brett Connolly his 11th, Lars Eller his 10th, Evgeny Kuznetsov his 12th and Marcus Johansson his 17th as the Capitals gave Carolina goaltender Eddie Lack a rude welcome back in his first start since Nov. 6. Washington became the first team to put up five-plus goals in nine straight home games since the Calgary Flames in 1990.

Braden Holtby made 23 saves to give Washington back-to-back shutouts, keeping the Caps riding high atop the NHL.

”We’ve got it going right now,” said defenseman Matt Niskanen, who had two assists. ”Guys are feeling it. Scoring up and down the lineup. Goalies have been good. Lot of things to like.”

What’s not to like? Ovechkin is four goals back of Sidney Crosby for the league lead, and Holtby’s seventh shutout tied him with Peter Budaj of the Kings for the most this season. Philipp Grubauer needed 38 saves to shut out Los Angeles on Sunday, but team defense has been sharp of late, too.

The power play scored twice and the penalty kill was a perfect 3 for 3 Tuesday as a lazy, imperfect showing looked like another dominant blowout on the score sheet.

”We didn’t play maybe like it says on the sheet,” Johansson said. ”Sometimes you’re not on your game and you have to find ways to win anyways, and I think we did that.”

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Hurricanes Not In Danger Of Being Relocated

Written by Zach Spedden at ArenaDigest.com

Despite much talk to the contrary, the Carolina Hurricanes are not a relocation candidate, according to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. 

The Hurricanes have been the center of several discussions as it relates to NHL moves. The team currently ranks last in attendance, and owner Peter Karmanos Jr is reported to have placed a team on the market.

In the backdrop of this, several cities have been connected to the NHL in some way. Quebec City has been mentioned as a possible destination for a franchise on the move, particularly since the league passed over the city and its state-of-the-art Videotron Centre for an expansion franchise last year.

However, when discussing the issue during a press conference on Saturday, Bettman said that the Hurricanes are not slated to move. More from the AP (via ESPN):

Bettman says any sale wouldn’t mean the Hurricanes are leaving Raleigh for Quebec or anywhere else.

“Peter may sell, he may not sell,” Bettman said. “He may sell all of it. He may sell some of it. He may sell none of it. There’s no formal sale process going on. There’s no imperative for the franchise to be sold on any immediate basis, and the franchise is not moving. I hope that was definitive enough.”

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly echoed Bettman’s comments later, saying the league is committed to Raleigh in the same manner it has stuck with Phoenix during years of struggles for the Coyotes. And though Bettman and Daly didn’t mention it, relocation also wouldn’t command the mid-nine-figure fees paid by the new owners of expansion teams.

“It’s not all about money,” Daly said. “It’s about commitment to markets.”

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Capitals Clinch Playoff Spot

Written By Isabelle Khurshudyan at WashingtonPost.com

As soon as Justin Williams’s stick blade tipped the puck up and over Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Eddie Lack, Verizon Center roared with a little extra enthusiasm, understanding the rarity of such a goal by the Washington Capitals. It was the first goal of Tuesday night’s game, and it was the first time the Capitals scored first in nearly two weeks.

They got the last goal, too. Alex Ovechkin scored the overtime winner, snapping a five-game goal-less drought and a two-game losing streak for the Capitals. They beat the Hurricanes, 2-1, clinching a playoff berth with 105 points through 69 games. The Capitals became the first team to punch their postseason ticket.

“We talked about it before the game,” Williams said. “We know where we’re at and we knew the stats. Something we’re very proud of, our record so far. We’ve earned everything we’ve had so far.”

After making 25 saves, goaltender Braden Holtby set a franchise record with his 42nd win of the season. With 13 games left, he has a chance to eclipse Martin Brodeur’s NHL record of 48.

“Obviously it shows the season we’re having here as a team,” Holtby said of his milestone. “That’s good. It shows consistency in what we’re doing.”

Ovechkin thought he had the game-winner on a shot 10 seconds before his goal. But the Capitals maintained possession after Lack made a save. With Ovechkin backpedaling from the goal line and Evgeny Kuznetsov behind the net, Kuznetsov passed the puck through Hurricanes defenseman Noah Hanifin to Ovechkin. The goal was reviewed immediately, and at first glance the play appeared to be offside, but it was eventually ruled a good goal.

A positive result was only fitting after an early change of pace by the Capitals. Ovechkin said he thought it was the team’s best start to a game in its past 10 or 15, a post or a crossbar denying the Capitals several times.

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LA Kings acquire Kris Versteeg from Canes


Written by Chris Peters at CBSSports.com

On the day the Carolina Hurricanes officially became sellers, another contending team swooped in to buy. The Los Angeles Kings acquired veteran forward Kris Versteeg from the Hurricanes for prospect Valentin Zykov and a conditional fifth-round draft pick in 2016.

This is the second deal of some significance Carolina was a part of Sunday after trading away longtime captain Eric Staal to the New York Rangers.

Versteeg, who was pulled from Carolina’s 5-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues Sunday afternoon amid the ongoing trade talks, has 33 points in 63 games this season. He also comes with a $2.2 million cap hit, which the Kings will have to absorb in its entirety. Carolina was already at the limit, having previously retained money on three contracts. A portion of Versteeg’s actual contract ($2.2 million) is already being retained by the Florida Panthers, anyway.

In order to make room for Versteeg’s cap hit, the Kings have reportedly placed Marian Gaborik on long-term injured reserve.

The Kings had been rumored to be in the market for depth at both forward and defense and reportedly nearly swung a deal with the Edmonton Oilers for Teddy Purcell and Justin Schultz, but that fell through. They had to move on to a backup plan.

With his name already on the Stanley Cup twice, having won with Chicago in 2010 and 2015, Versteeg has been pretty well traveled since winning that first Cup. The Kings will be Versteeg’s sixth organization in the last seven seasons.

A veteran of 535 NHL games, Versteeg has 308 points over stints with the aforementioned Blackhawks, Toronto Maple Leafs, Philadelphia Flyers, Florida Panthers and Hurricanes. He also has 84 games of playoff experience, mostly with Chicago.

Versteeg is going to help Los Angeles get the depth they’re looking for, but was a healthy scratch at times during the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup run last season. He did play in five of the six games of the Stanley Cup Final series against the Tampa Bay Lightning in a minimal role. Chicago sent him to the Hurricanes along with Joakim Nordstrom during their salary dump over the summer.

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Rangers Trade for Staal

Written by Dave Caldwell at NYTimes.com

Five months after signing a seven-year, $57.75 million contract extension, center Eric Staal beat Martin Brodeur with a wrist shot with 31.7 seconds remaining in regulation to lift the Carolina Hurricanes over the stunned Devils in Game 7 of a first-round playoff series in 2009.

Staal, then 24, had scored 40 goals in the regular season and seemed worth every penny. The Hurricanes made it to the Eastern Conference finals that year but were swept by Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins, the eventual Stanley Cup champions.

Staal was named the Hurricanes’ captain the next season and went on to earn a reputation for his versatility and durability. But a 4-1 home loss to the Penguins in 2009 would prove to be his final Stanley Cup playoff game with the Hurricanes. Now he has a chance to return after being traded to the contending Rangers on Sunday for a player and two future draft picks.

Carolina has become a perennial also-ran, and a playoff berth for the team this year appears to be in serious doubt. Staal’s production has also declined, with 96 goals in 349 games in the last five seasons — 10 in 63 games this season.

His big contract was to expire at the end of this season, so Carolina reluctantly decided to move on. And so had Staal, 31, who waived the no-trade clause in his contract to join the Rangers and his younger brother by three years, defenseman Marc Staal.

In return, the Hurricanes will receive the Rangers’ second-round picks in the 2016 and 2017 drafts and forward Aleksi Saarela, a third-round pick last year. The Hurricanes will pay half of Staal’s remaining 2015-16 salary.

“We’re looking at a player that we think could be energized by this trade,” Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton said Sunday in a conference call.

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