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Capitals' Kevin Shattenkirk discusses the play that led to his suspension

Capitals' Kevin Shattenkirk discusses the play that led to his suspension

Kevin Shattenkirk said he takes responsibility for the hit that led to his two-game suspension and feels fortunate that Los Angeles defenseman Kevin Gravel was not injured.

“I have to take responsibility for the hit,” said Shattenkirk, who was assessed a charging minor. “I made a bad read. I thought he was coming in at a different angle and I’d have a cleaner hit, and he went another route. It’s on me at that point to adjust or slow up and not make that hit.”

“More than anything,” the Caps defenseman continued, “it’s fortunate that [Gravel] is not out and it wound up being more of my fault and no one else had to suffer for it, really, other than my team, which for me hurts the most.”

Shattenkirk served the first game of the ban Sunday against Anaheim and will miss the second game Tuesday night when the Western Conference-leading Wild visit Verizon Center.

It’s the first time in Shattenkirk’s seven year career that he’s been disciplined by the league.

Shattenkirk said he explained his position in a brief conference call with representatives from the NHL’s Department of Player Safety on Sunday afternoon. Then, about an hour later, he received a call from Caps General Manager Brian MacLellan, who delivered the bad news.

“They have a formula that they have to stick to and some boxes that get checked off on certain hits,” Shattenkirk said. “Unfortunately, my hit checked off a few too many boxes in the criteria that they use to judge those situations.”

He added: “Looking at a lot of the other suspensions that have been handed out, that’s kind of a similar amount to what’s been done before.”

With regard to the hit, Shattenkirk indicated that he probably was trying to do too much.

“We didn’t have any sort of altercations earlier in the game,” Shattenkirk said of Gravel, who was stunned by the high hit but remained in the game. “Really, it was me just trying to make an aggressive play on my dump [in]. Just dumping the puck and having four minutes left [in a one-goal game], I wanted to try to make a difference and try to go make an offensive read.”

Shattenkirk, who also forfeited more than $47,000 in salary, is eligible to return Thursday against Nashville. He said he hopes to pick up where he left off as continues to adjust to a new team.

“It’s certainly not ideal,” he said of losing two games in that process. “I was really starting to get into a groove with these guys. And it’s a tough time for the team right now, so I wish I was more a part of it.”     

MORE CAPITALS: Power Rankings: Caps go cold

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Caps hold players-only meeting after Game 2 loss to say things 'that some people need to hear'

Caps hold players-only meeting after Game 2 loss to say things 'that some people need to hear'

As the media gathered outside the locker room of the Washington Capitals on Saturday night, they were met with closed doors and a lengthy wait. After a devastating 6-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 2 of their second round series, clearly there were things that needed to be said, points that needed to be made behind closed doors.

The Caps gathered for a players-only meeting following the loss on Saturday. When the doors finally opened and the players did finally speak to reporters, clearly the emotions were raw and lips were sealed.

“None of your business,” Matt Niskanen said when asked what the message in the locker room was after the game.

“That stay between us,” Alex Ovechkin said.

RELATED: Holtby critical of his performance Saturday night

Some of the players were a bit more forthcoming, but details were still scarce. T.J. Oshie revealed that the overall message was “Things that people need to say and things that some people need to hear.”

“We were very together with what we said,” Oshie continued. “I don’t really need to go into details, but sometimes in our games and I’m sure in other sports as well, sometimes you need to hear from your teammates more than you need to hear from your coach.”

As the team was coming off the ice, Barry Trotz said that leaders on the team approached him about letting them speak to the team themselves.

“I think that's great,” Trotz said. “That's great leadership. That's ownership when your players are in the room talking about stuff because that's galvanizing. I think that's a huge step for us.”

The results will need to be seen soon, however, as the Caps are quickly running out of time with which to battle back in this series.

Washington jumped out to a strong start on Saturday, but was unable to capitalize in a scoreless first period. Things derailed after the opening frame as Pittsburgh took a 3-1 lead in the second and finished the Caps off with a strong third period to win the game 6-2.

Now the Caps face a daunting task of having to battle back from a 2-0 series deficit against their archrivals and defending Stanley Cup champions with the next two games in Pittsburgh. They will need to win both of those games to have a realistic chance of coming back in the series.

 “No one in here needs a lesson about how to go home early,” Oshie said. “We’ve done that. It’s well known, the fans know it, so we need to man up here and go into Game 3, change our attitude and have some fun while we do it.”

MORE CAPITALS: 3 observations: Missed opportunity leads to tough questions

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Braden Holtby critical of his performance Saturday night

Braden Holtby critical of his performance Saturday night

Caps Coach Barry Trotz acknowledged that Braden Holtby wasn’t “as sharp as he can be” in Saturday’s 6-2 loss to the Penguins.  

Trotz also said he hasn’t given any thought to his Game 3 starter.

“Way too early to talk about that,” Trotz said, asked if he planned to return to Holtby on Monday night. “I haven’t really thought about it at all.”

Holtby allowed three goals on nine second period shots in Game 2 and was pulled at the intermission. Saturday's performance followed a Game 1 effort in which he allowed three goals on 21 shots and a first round series that saw him surrender 14 goals in the first four games.

RELATED: 3 observations: Missed opportunity leads to tough questions

Philipp Grubauer entered Saturday’s game at the start of the third period and promptly allowed two goals on the first four shots he faced.    

“I thought we just had to chance the mojo in that situation,” Trotz said of pulling Holtby. “He’ll tell you he could be better…and he will be.”

Pressed on what he thought of Holtby’s night, Trotz added: “I thought some of the goals, he wasn’t as sharp as he can be for us. He’s a game-changer for us. And when he didn’t change the game, I just looked to change the mojo a little bit, that’s all.”

“Braden is our backbone and he has been all year,”Trotz continued. “We got to find some goals for him, too. We can’t just put it on Braden Holtby. We got to find some goals in our room right now, and we haven’t found enough.”

Holtby said he didn’t like the Penguins’ third goal, scored by Jake Guentzel, who finished a 2-on-1, sniping a shot over his left pad and under his glove.

“The playoffs are made of big moments and on that third goal, that’s a big moment,” Holtby said. “That’s where your goalie needs to come up with a save and I just didn’t. Obviously, I was frustrated that I didn’t do that.”

Through eight playoff games, Holtby has a .911 save percentage—13th out of the 14 goalies who’ve played at least 5 postseason games. Holtby entered the playoffs with the best postseason save percentage in league history at .938.

So, yeah, it’s fair to say that none of this was expected...getting pulled as the Caps fight for their postseason lives or being asked by a reporter whether he thinks he'll be in net for the next game. 

“I expect to start every game until I’m told otherwise,” an exasperated Holtby said.

MORE CAPITALS: Hot start turns into disastrous finish as Caps fall 6-2