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Prediction recap: Caps take down Lightning in 'must-win' game

Prediction recap: Caps take down Lightning in 'must-win' game

Barry Trotz called Saturday’s game a must-win and the Caps responded with a 5-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Here’s a recap of the three bold predictions.

1. Washington will trail after the first period - Wrong

After you lose a 5-0 game at home against a team you’re competing with for the playoffs, I would expect that to be a wake-up call. I really thought Tampa would be ready for this game and yet T.J. Oshie was able to give the Caps an early 2-0 lead. Sure, the Lightning responded to tie it at 2 before the end of the period, but they simply are not playing at a level they need to in order to reach the playoffs.

RELATED: Burakovsky picks up where he left off for Caps

2. Andre Burakovsky will get a point - Correct

Burakovsky earned an assist on Justin Williams’ goal, but he easily could have had multiple goals. He was on a tear with seven shots on goal and it took some incredible saves by Andre Vasilevskiy to keep Burakovsky out of the net.

3. Tampa will be limited to two goals or less - Wrong

Damn you, Nikita Kucherov. I was 1:30 away from getting this one right, but Kucherov had to ruin it for me with a late goal.

2017 Results: My Correct vs. Wrong score is about as embarrassing as the score of the UVa vs. Florida basketball game Saturday night. Zing!

Correct: 34
Wrong: 60.5
Push: 3

MORE CAPITALS: Caps clinch playoff berth for third straight season

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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