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Beagle finally rewarded in Capitals' Game 3 win

by Katie Brown

WASHINGTON -- Washington Capitals center Jay Beagle prides himself on more than scoring goals, but hitting the post was getting old.

Until he finally scored.

"I've always said, when you're getting chances you're doing the right things," Beagle said. "When you're not getting the chances, you have to tweak something, and finally I got a nice bounce to go in. It obviously felt nice."

Jay Beagle
Right Wing - WSH
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 3 | PTS: 4
SOG: 17 | +/-: 1
After nine Stanley Cup Playoff games, several crossbars and more than a few glove saves, Beagle finally found the back of the net. It was the game-winner in Washington's 1-0 victory against the New York Rangers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Second Round at Verizon Center.

The Capitals lead the best-of-7 series 2-1. Game 4 is Wednesday in Washington (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports 2).

"He's been playing like that every game and finally he got a break," goaltender Braden Holtby said. "He could have five goals by now, and finally something went his way. He just kept pushing, and I think when he scored that goal, all of us felt that way for him. We weren't going to let that go to waste."

Forward Evgeny Kuznetsov sent the puck deep and went off for a line change, giving Troy Brouwer time to free the puck and get it into the corner to Andre Burakovsky, who fed Beagle streaking into the slot. 

Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist stopped Beagle's initial shot. Beagle picked up his own rebound and skated behind the net, and his stuff attempt bounced off the skate of Rangers defenseman Keith Yandle and past Lundqvist.

"I just was trying to create havoc in the slot there," Beagle said. "[Burakovsky] gave me a nice pass, and [Lundqvist] made a good blocker save, and I just tried to come back around and put it on net because I knew guys were crashing there. I tried to wrap it around and got a little lucky and it went in."

It's been a banner year for the hardworking Beagle, who has four points in nine playoff games, an NHL career high. He set career highs in goals (10) and points (20) during the regular season; he had never scored more than four goals.

Beagle, who won 10 of 12 faceoffs Monday, led all players with a faceoff win percentage of 67.5 in the first round of the playoffs.

"It's great to see a hardworking guy like that come through," Brouwer said. "He prides himself on more that scoring goals, being great on the PK, good on his faceoffs, but for him to break through and get a goal and get us a win tonight, it's a good feeling for him and for the rest of us."

Beagle, known as a penalty-kill specialist, would rather block a shot or win a faceoff than score a goal. His teammates say that's why he is so effective.

"That's what's made him so good and what's gotten him to this level," Holtby said. "His commitment in the D-zone is absolutely second to none. I've never seen a guy work harder to try and keep the puck out of our net. And this year he's come into his own scoring-wise, creating a lot in the offensive zone. Players like that, they might not get a lot of credit, but they're absolutely invaluable for our team not only on the ice but what he does for our energy off the ice."

Beagle's linemates, Burakovsky and Brouwer, were held without a point through the first two games of the series, but made adjustments before Game 3.

"[It was] trying to put the puck deep, trying to be more simple," Beagle said. "I think the Rangers, they feed off the neutral-zone transitions, and a couple times we haven't gotten it deep, and you end up paying for it, you end up playing in your zone, which no one wants that. We were just trying to get it deep, go to work and that goal was exactly from that."

For Capitals coach Barry Trotz, it was the type of goal he wants his team to score. When New York is keying in on Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, other Washington players have to step up and create offense.

"We're going to need some new heroes every night," Trotz said. "It's going to be someone different for us, that's how we have to get it done. The harder you work, the luckier you get. That line was really working hard, I think."

Beagle has found his niche in the NHL as a grinder, winning faceoffs and killing penalties. He likes it that way, and Trotz likes that too.

"I love the skill of the game, but I have a special place in my heart, I think, for all those grinders, if you will, guys like [Beagle]," Trotz said. "Everybody in our room loves him. I was really happy for him to get a really big goal. He always comes with a smile on his face. Even when we have bad days, he always has a smile on his face."

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