Rangers win longest game of NHL playoffs

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Rangers win longest game of NHL playoffs

From Comcast SportsNetWASHINGTON (AP) -- Henrik Lundqvist had just spent the better part of 4 hours repelling pucks and shooing skaters from the crease in the pressure-packed situation known as the Stanley Cup playoffs.When it was all over, after the calendar moved from Wednesday to Thursday and the New York Rangers had defeated the Washington Capitals 2-1 in three overtimes, Lundqvist was absolutely drained."I think my entire body is just tired right now," said Lundqvist, who stopped 45 shots to help New York take a 2-1 lead in the series. "I just want to lay down and relax and get a message. My neck is hurting."Marian Gaborik scored at 14:41 of the third overtime to help the Eastern Conference's regular-season champs grab back home-ice advantage from the seventh-seeded Capitals.Brad Richards sent a pass from the backboards toward Gaborik, who ended the marathon by sliding the puck between the pads of rookie goaltender Braden Holtby."When you get into that many hours of playing, it becomes a mental game," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "I felt if the game got longer and longer, our team was at an advantage. We have a mentally tough group. Just not giving in -- that's the key."It was Gaborik's first goal since New York's first playoff game against Ottawa, snapping an eight-game drought."I hope it gets Gabby going," Tortorella said. "He's a guy we need as we continue."Holtby stopped 47 shots for the Capitals, but the last one got away."You just try to play every period the same," he said. "Once you start putting more pressure on yourself because it's overtime, that's when bad things start to happen. The game started to open up in the third overtime, but it happens."Early in the third overtime, Washington killed a New York power play to keep the suspense going.The game started at 7:40 p.m. and stretched into the next day, ending at 12:14 a.m. Thursday. There will be a two-day break before the teams meet for Game 4 on Saturday in Washington.Asked if this game was a series-turner, Tortorella said, "The impact is we're up a game. They have to win three, we have to win two. The guys should feel good about themselves as far as what they went through. They didn't give in and found a way. Now we go about our business."It was yet another low scoring, extremely tight game for the Capitals. Nine of Washington's 10 playoff games have been decided by one goal; the exception was New York's 3-1 win in the series opener.John Carlson got a second-period goal for the Capitals, 2-3 in overtime this postseason. Ryan Callahan scored in the second period to make it 1-0 for New York, which improved to 1-2 in overtime during these playoffs.Washington star Alex Ovechkin, who logged only 13 minutes of ice time in the Capitals' 3-2 victory Monday in Game 2 in New York, finished with 20 minutes in regulation. He had 6 minutes in the first period, compared to 3 in Game 2. After two periods, his 14:49 of ice time was the most on the team.The difference was that in the previous game, Washington bolted to a 2-0 lead and didn't need the offense that Ovechkin is capable of providing. Despite his extended play in regulation, he was used very sparingly during overtime.Tortorella, in contrast, milked more than 40 minutes apiece out of defensemen Marc Staal and Ryan McDonagh before the game entered the third overtime.Early in the first extra period, Washington's Troy Brouwer got a pass in front of the net and inexplicably shot the puck wide. At the 15-minute mark, Ovechkin gathered in a turnover by Anton Stralman, moved in with a bouncing puck and drilled a shot off the right post.The goal horn sounded, and many in the sellout crowd stood and cheered. But a replay showed the puck never entered the net.Washington successfully killed a New York power play in the final minutes of the first extra session.Fatigue became a factor in the second overtime, as the teams combined for 13 shots.The Rangers had a chance to take the lead late in regulation when Mike Knuble was called for goaltender interference at 14:25 of the third period, even though he received a nudge from both Brian Boyle and McDonagh as he crashed into Lundqvist. New York failed to get off a shot, and with 13 seconds left on the man advantage, Richards was called for tripping.Washington didn't get off a shot on its power play, either.The Capitals outshot New York 13-10 during a scoreless first period in which Washington had the lone power play. Lundqvist denied Marcus Johansson on a shot from the low end of the right circle with just over 13 minutes elapsed, and seconds later Ovechkin was leveled by Staal after unleashing a wrist shot from the left circle.New York's first power play provided the game's initial goal. With Brooks Laich off for hooking, Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto took a shot from the left circle that hit Carlson and Washington's Matt Hendricks. Callahan was in position to sweep the bouncing puck into the right side of the net.Washington killed 27 of 30 penalties in the postseason before Callahan's goal. It was bad omen for the Capitals, who were 5-1 in the playoffs when scoring first and 0-3 when falling behind 1-0.Carlson tied it at 11:10, deftly skating from left to right around three Rangers in the New York zone before launching a wrist shot that whizzed past Lundqvist's right shoulder into the top of the net. Stralman got caught up ice, and Carlson skated around Gaborik to get free.NOTES:Visiting teams are 13-6 in overtime this postseason. ... Rangers C Brandon Dubinsky was scratched for a third straight game with an unspecified injury. ... Washington had won five straight home playoff games against the Rangers, dating to 2009 and including last season. ... It was the third-longest game in Capitals history and the fifth-longest for the Rangers.

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Grubauer's stellar performance not enough as Caps drop goalie duel to Rangers

Grubauer's stellar performance not enough as Caps drop goalie duel to Rangers

Final score: Washington Capitals 1, New York Rangers 2

How it happened: Philipp Grubauer did everything he could to weather the storm of the first period, turning aside 18 of 19 shots in the opening 20 minutes. Alex Ovechkin tied the game in the second period with a power play goal. The Rangers came out on top, however, as Mats Zuccarello scored right off of a faceoff in the third period.

What it means: The Caps are 0-1-1 since returning from the bye week with two straight losses, the first time they have lost two straight since Dec. 27-29. Washington is 0-2-0 against the Rangers this season.

Goals

Rangers goal: Ryan McDonagh from Rick Nash and Derek Stepan at 7:49 in the first. McDonagh fired a shot on net forcing a rebound from Grubauer. Several Caps had a chance to clear it out of danger, but McDonagh beat them all to it and fired his own rebound into the back of the net. Caps 0, Rangers 1

Capitals goal: Alex Ovechkin (power play) from Lars Eller and Evgeny Kuznetsov at 17:24 in the second. Eller provided a nice cross-ice feed to find Ovechkin in the office. The captain wristed a shot that deflected off of Nick Holden, fooling Lundqvist. Caps 1, Rangers 1

Rangers goal: Mats Zuccarello from Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider at 8:37 in the third. Zibanejad found the puck on his stick right off of an offensive zone faceoff and weaved his way behind the defense before feeding an open Zuccarello in the slot. Caps 1, Rangers 2

3 Stars

1. Philipp Grubauer: This game could have gotten ugly early if not for the incredible effort of Grubauer. The Caps' netminder turned aside 18 of 19 shots in as opneing frame that was completely dominated by the Rangers.

2. Henrik Lundqvist: The Caps started tilting the ice in their favor in the second period. While Ovechkin was able to tie the game, Lundqvist prevented the Caps from taking control with his fantastic effort in net. He came up big in the final minute as well with a game-saving denial of Marcus Johansson on the doorstep.

3. Mika Zibanejad: Zuccarello's game-winning goal was all effort by Zibanejad who took the puck behind the defense right off the faceoff. He looked like he was a stop ahead of everybody else on that play and it gave the Rangers the win.

Look ahead: Washington will come home briefly for a Tuesday practice before heading to Philadelphia for a game against the Flyers Wednesday night. The Caps then face Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers in Washington on Friday in the first leg of another back-to-back with the second leg coming on Saturday in Nashville.

Tell us what you think: Even with Braden Holtby on the bench, Saturday's game turned into a duel between the goalies as both Grubauer and Lundqvist dominated in net to keep their teams in the game. Which goalie had the more impressive performance?

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Offseason questions: Can the Redskins trust Dustin Hopkins at kicker?

Offseason questions: Can the Redskins trust Dustin Hopkins at kicker?

The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out.

That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players. In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk podcast: It's tag day

Can the Redskins trust Dustin Hopkins at kicker?

Finlay: Nick Novak. Graham Gano. Shaun Suisham. That's just a recent list of kickers the Redskins gave up on too early. 

Dustin Hopkins missed a couple of important kicks in 2016, especially after a very strong start to the year, but with a powerful leg and a sharp mindset he should absolutely be the 'Skins kicker in 2017. In two seasons with Washington, Hopkins has made 84 percent of his field goals and 95 percent of his extra points. Don't forget he routinely puts kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks too.

Yes, Hopkins missed a game winner against the Bengals and other important kicks later in the year. That happened. Missed kicks are a part of life in the NFL. Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed an extra point in the Super Bowl. 

At 6-foot-2 and just 26 years old, Hopkins is young and athletic. Of 70 career field goal attempts, Hopkins has missed 11 times. Of the misses, six of them came from 50+ yards. In 31 games, Jay Gruden has proven he trusts Hopkins to attempt long kicks. The 'Skins would be well served to stick with the young kicker.

Tandler: 

Finding a quarterback may be the most difficult, least scientific task that NFL organizations must undertake. Deciding when to let go of a struggling kicker is second.

There are plenty of strong legs out there spending hours every day kicking on high school fields in hopes of getting an NFL tryout. But being successful as a kicker is as much about what is above the shoulders as it is what’s below the waist. It appears Hopkins had a mental slump last year but he came back to finish strong.

Hopkins started the year making 14 of his first 15 field goal attempts, with the miss coming in the wind in Baltimore. But then in the dome in Detroit he just missed a 45-yard try and that set off a slump where he missed five of 15 field goal tries. He pulled it back together and missed just two of his final nine kicks, one of them a “why not” 57-yard try at the end of the first half against the Giants.

So, it was more of a slump than a bad year for Hopkins. He continued to pound the ball into the end zone, finishing tied for fourth in touchback percentage. I would understand if they brought in some competition for him during training camp but it will be a major upset if he is not the Week 1 kicker.

More offseason questions: 

What are reasonable expectations for Josh Doctson?

— Will there be a surprise salary cap cut?

— Should the Redskins defense switch to the 4-3?

— Is Spencer Long the answer at center?

— How many D-linemen do the Redskins need?

— Should the Redskins draft another QB? 

— With Sean McVay gone, will the Redskins run the ball more?

— Can Cravens handle the transition to safety? 

— Will the Redskins re-sign Pierre Garçon? 

Will Rob Kelley be the lead running back in 2017?

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!