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Posted at 11:11 PM ET, 03/ 7/2011

Capitals injury update after 2-1 shootout win over Lightning

By Katie Carrera

It was quite the nail biter at the St. Pete Times Forum but thanks to a perfect performance from Braden Holtby in 45-plus minutes of action, the Capitals managed to capture a 2-1 shootout win over the Lightning. Washington increased its lead over Tampa Bay for the Southeast Division lead to two points and now trails Philadelphia by only two points for first place in the Eastern Conference.

But nothing can be simple for these Capitals. Holtby's relief effort was necessary after the first shot of the game -- 23 seconds in by Nate Thompson -- hit off of starter Michal Neuvirth's mask. Neuvirth was noticeably stunned after the puck ricocheted off his mask and took a few minutes to compose himself and then get his old, now practice, mask because the cage on his current one was bent.

Turns out that when the puck struck the cage, part of the metal from the mask entered Neuvirth's eye and he wasn't able to get it out for a while. Neuvirth didn't return to the game for the start of the second.

"Michal's fine," Coach Bruce Boudreau said after the game. "The shot -- part of the metal on his mask went into his eye and he couldn't get it out .He got it out and he was fine after that and he's going to be OK."

Late in the second period, Nicklas Backstrom left the game and wouldn't return for the duration of the contest either. Boudreau said that Backstrom fell on his left hand and fractured left thumb.

Backstrom's thumb and part of his hand appeared to be wrapped after the game but it was difficult to tell if he suffered any greater injury. Boudreau said he expects Washington's No. 1 center to be fine as well. We'll see if he takes part in the Capitals' optional practice on Tuesday at KCI.

"He's OK," Boudreau said. "He wanted to come back. He just fell on his hand the wrong way. If you've ever had a sore finger or something it gets pretty tender."

--Alexander Semin had perhaps the best night out of all the Capitals skaters even excluding his wicked wrister that tied the score at 14:28 of the third period. In 21:27 of ice time, Semin took six shots on Tampa Bay goaltender Dwayne Roloson, with another six that missed the target. He also had a few notable back-checking efforts to help keep the Lightning at bay.

"He was good," Boudreau said. "If he's starting to get wound up that's pretty good news for the Caps."

--The non-goal less than four minutes into the third period that prohibited Tampa Bay from expanding to a two-goal lead was a huge turning point in favor of the Capitals. Lightning Coach Guy Boucher and his team were not happy with the call.

By Katie Carrera  | March 7, 2011; 11:11 PM ET
Categories:  Michal Neuvirth, Nicklas Backstrom, Tampa Bay Lightning  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Open thread: Capitals at Lightning
Next: Quote of the night from the Capitals' win over Tampa Bay


They should be mad about that call. Laich pretty clearly tripped him, not even sure if he made contact with Holtby as he fell. On the other hand, Caps win, so life is good.

Posted by: aneuschool | March 8, 2011 12:01 AM | Report abuse

TB should have been in the box most of the 3rd, the muggings in front of the net with zippy calls. OT Call a makeup call fo the mugging on OVie just prior.

Posted by: bricucci | March 8, 2011 12:06 AM | Report abuse

Katie great job on HNIC radio today. I thought they were just going to ask you about every player on the team today. You hit it on the head with Alzners play this year and then he goes out and gets beat 3 xs in the 1st 1 on 1. Funny how those things work.

Posted by: bricucci | March 8, 2011 12:09 AM | Report abuse

From watching Boucher's comments, it looks like BB did a good job of getting inside Boucher's head. Even though the penalties were not numerically favorable for the Caps in Tampa, the important calls of the goalie interference and the OT penalty went our way. Nice job, Bruce. Keep up the psy-ops.

Posted by: pcalver1 | March 8, 2011 12:20 AM | Report abuse

After a thrilling 3-2 OT win in Ft. Lauderdale last night - the drive from Ft. Lauderdale to Tampa was enjoyable. Got into Tampa at 2 a.m. Made a couple stops on the way.

What a gritty effort by a patient team that yes was outworked a great deal by a Tampa team that pressed way more than the last time these two teams met.

PENALTIES: The Caps have got to stay out of the box. They got burned in FL and again tonight taking too many penalties successively.

NEUVIRTH: Good to hear he wasn't seriously hurt. Hell of a shot. But last time the caps/TB played their first shot of the game went in. This one didn't

HOLTBY: When we went to a shootout I felt we were doomed after seeing his one and only shootout performance this year. KUDOS TO THIS TEENAGER FOR STAYING PATIENT AND NOT COMMITTING AGAINST THEIR SHOOTERS. The kid stood tall.

BACKSTROM: Hopefully he'll come back soon. Good to hear he wanted to come back tonight.

OVIE AND SEMIN: They played hard - sure they did things that had me pulling my hair out and then they do things that amaze. Semin's shot and Ovie's patience on the SO goal.

Folks this game had a great playoff atmosphere and what a pleasure it was being a part of it. Sure the Caps didn't have two dominating efforts down here in FL but bottomline they're walking away with four points and two point lead in the division. Oh and they're only two points back of the conference leading Flyers. Not too shabby. Still ALOT of hockey left.



Posted by: Jonathan6 | March 8, 2011 12:21 AM | Report abuse

Way to hear from you Jonathan6, but your recap way undervalues Semin's contributions to the game, from some big hits to huge backchecks, steals, and awesome shots, his performance was a thing to behold.

Posted by: Justafan | March 8, 2011 12:36 AM | Report abuse

Johansson should be highlighted for his play as well. He was getting it done all over the ice.

Posted by: tmac2yao | March 8, 2011 12:37 AM | Report abuse

In fact, Johansson's line was our best line early in the game. They probably played a crucial role, in addition to the more obvious factors mentioned, in ultimately shifting the momentum.

Posted by: tmac2yao | March 8, 2011 12:42 AM | Report abuse

And even when Stamkos' is struggling to score goals, you can see the wicked accuracy on his shots. It's only a matter of time before they start going in for him again. It's still crazy to think how young he is.

Posted by: tmac2yao | March 8, 2011 12:45 AM | Report abuse

Stamkos has done nothing all year against the caps. When he draws 4 guys on a rush he'll get my Ovi like respect. 1 year does not make/define a Career

Posted by: bricucci | March 8, 2011 12:51 AM | Report abuse

@Justafan - believe me no intention to undervalue Semin and Johannson as well pointed out by Tmac. MAJO was all over the place and stepped up with Backie out. Semin was backcheckin like a nut and was getting physical in the corners. Believe me he definitely earned the second star of the game and he stuck with it. He's ramping up his play and I love what I'm seeing. The pulling my hair out really were at things that would've been me expecting them to be perfect all the time and that simply does not happen.

Posted by: Jonathan6 | March 8, 2011 12:51 AM | Report abuse

@jonathan6, I hear ya. Marcus was on tonight -- he's playing close to the edge, in a good way.

It's a shame we don't seem to have the scoring touch, though. Laich's chance should've been buried, as should have Arnott's. Chimera seems hopeless. I liked more of what I saw from Sturm tonight, but he too cannot put it in.

Posted by: Justafan | March 8, 2011 1:15 AM | Report abuse


I was actually suggesting that Katie should've included a bulletpoint on 90 to highlight his performance.

As far as Chimera, this was probably a good game for him by his standards. My hope is that Fehr comes back strong down the stretch and displaces Chinera in the lineup, moving Sturm to LW.

Posted by: tmac2yao | March 8, 2011 1:41 AM | Report abuse


First, I was talking about his wicked accuracy. I don't think there is much to debate there.

Secondly, he's been doing it for well over a year, dating back to the second half of his rookie season. So it's going on 2.5 seasons now.

Having said that, the heart and soul of TB is presently St. Louis. He makes Stamkos and players around him better. It'll be interesting to see how Stamkos, and the Lightning for that matter, evolve once St. Louis moves on. The common assumption seems to be that he'll struggle and he probably will initially but he's so young, has a lot of skill and is a tremendous skater. He seems to have a good head on his shoulders as well. So I wouldn't bet against him. He willsoon have the opportunity to expand his game further and take on a bigger leadership role. He and Hedman are the future for TB.

Posted by: tmac2yao | March 8, 2011 1:54 AM | Report abuse

And I'm not saying that anybody in this thread did it but it's probably a good idea to wait a while before declaring limitations and putting labels like "PP specialist only" on a young player like Stamkos considering his tools and attitude.

Superstars and role players alike that are dedicated and have the right attitude and good work ethic continually add to their games over time. Expect no less from Stamkos.

Also remember that he is still maturing physically. He made a big jump in that area between last season and this one and he's still going to get considerably stronger in the future.

Posted by: tmac2yao | March 8, 2011 2:13 AM | Report abuse

Maybe the worm has finally turned. I've seen that goalie interference call go against the Caps in the playoffs twice in game 7's. Last year vs Montreal and in game 7 where Knuble made the slighted bit of contact with Halak and vs Philly in '08 where A flyer was allowed to clear HUET out of the crease and shoot into the vacated net.

Posted by: jimc93 | March 8, 2011 6:40 AM | Report abuse

Last night's goalie interference was the correct call. Laich contacted Saint Louis barely who dove into Holtby. Saint Louis is a very good, sure-footed skater, so he took a little shove and tried to take out the goalie hoping for no gi due to contact. Some might call that a savvy vet move, but having seen SL dive like Greg Louganis for years, I claim he is chump. I imagine the refs take into consideration who knocks into goalies or goes down into consideration. Look at how few tripping/interference calls Semin gets for his history of diving, for example.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | March 8, 2011 7:04 AM | Report abuse

@jonathan6 - good job representing the team down there. On tv, it looked like a pretty large contingent of Caps fans.

First off - Holtby's performance was the best I've seen by one of our goalies this year. That kid is mad good and the team would be insane to trade him. Since he's only on year one of his entry level, I'm guessing we'll be seeing a lot of him next year. It's not the time to think about the offseason, but since Varly goes rfa this summer, I'm thinking the Caps have a hard decision to make there unless they can get him for a mil per.

Glad for Semin, of course. It was one of the most important goals of the season and it was that great ability to create time and space that made it happen. It's what he does, folks. The more people criticize him, the more fault everyone will see. "Othello" is all about how this works psychologically - someone puts the bug in your ear and soon everything is evidence.

Semin is nowhere near as lazy as the haters say he is. All you have to do is watch him and watch other skill players. Toews doesn't go mindlessly allowing people to crush him - he'll avoid a hit unless he absolutely has to take one.

When it comes to physical play, the Caps can be the matadors and not the bulls. Let people run at them. If they're running around after players that can be used against them with a smart team. The big thing is learning how to play a team like that without assuming that team's identity. There's more than one way to approach this game and this team would be foolish to try to emulate the models that don't fit its identity...

Posted by: RedLitYogi | March 8, 2011 7:09 AM | Report abuse

I couldn't tell Backstrom wasn't out there in the 3rd period because the line adjustments worked and Marcus Johansson's line was quietly effective all game. Not a knock on Backstrom - its a compliment to the whole team.

I said it yesterday and will say it again. The Lightning have a lot on their plate right now: losing streak, adversity, Stamkos not scoring, Roloson a little colder, and now some calls not going their way (BB piled in on)...that particular Lightning group might have some veterans but as a group they are going through this playoff push for the first time.

In a week a whole bunch of damage can happen to their standing and the rookie coach is trying to prevent it from being a lasting damage. Confidence might be lacking.

I was waiting all year for the "experts" to point out that as playoffs get closer teams play different - will that not affect the honeymoon in TB too?

Posted by: yesisaiditfirst | March 8, 2011 7:23 AM | Report abuse

Boucher has been out-coached by BB IMO. The telecast showed him all bug-eyed when trying to make some points to his team. Not the calm, under control demeanor you want in order to give the team confidence. Even when BB yells he does not seem out of control. Boucher is the opposite extreme from Bylsma.

Posted by: zmega | March 8, 2011 7:38 AM | Report abuse

When I first looked at the replay of the interference it didn't appear as though MSL made much contact, but then after seeing the replay of the interference the 2nd time you could see MSL's STICK push Holtby's left pad into the goal, not allowing Holtby an attempt to make the save.

Yes, there was contact between Laich and MSL, but I don't think the contact, by itself, was what caused the interference. PART of the reason was that MSL was skating in fast. Since MSL was party at fault for the interference the goal was correctly waved off. But since MSL was only partly at fault, no penalty was called on MSL.

The refs made the correct call.

On the note about the playoffs interference call, there was significantly more contact on MSL's no-goal than there was on Ovie's no-goal in game 7 last year.

Posted by: sgm3 | March 8, 2011 7:46 AM | Report abuse

When I first looked at the replay of the interference it didn't appear as though MSL made much contact, but then after seeing the replay of the interference the 2nd time you could see MSL's STICK push Holtby's left pad into the goal, not allowing Holtby an attempt to make the save.

Yes, there was contact between Laich and MSL, but I don't think the contact, by itself, was what caused the interference. PART of the reason was that MSL was skating in fast. Since MSL was party at fault for the interference the goal was correctly waved off. But since MSL was only partly at fault, no penalty was called on MSL.

The refs made the correct call.

On the note about the playoffs interference call, there was significantly more contact on MSL's no-goal than there was on Ovie's no-goal in game 7 last year.

Posted by: sgm3 | March 8, 2011 7:58 AM | Report abuse

Few quickies..

1) YA BOYS! Way to turn your OT and Shootout luck around! SWEET!

2) Holtby is our future.

3) I love the reporting on Semin, "He even had a few notable back checking efforts"...that right there is why Semin doesn't fit in with North American hockey. (but happy he scored, and hope he keeps back checking!)

4) Thanks for letting us know ahead of time Ovechkin and Semin will not be at "Optional" practice today. I would rather bruce NOT PLAN a practice and let the players show up if they want. That way, if they show up, they are putting in extra work.

Anyhow, GO CAPS! Keep Fehr off the roster!

Posted by: SoaringCaps | March 8, 2011 8:18 AM | Report abuse

I don't get all the Chimera bashing I've seen in comments here. We already know what we're getting with him -- speed and size. And he always does a good job of getting to the puck and putting it in the general vicinity of the net. Not the best hands, but it's not as if there's been some kind of drop in his performance since we got him that's not commensurate with the general drop in scoring from the Caps over the last year.

Posted by: BigMogilny | March 8, 2011 8:32 AM | Report abuse

Finally SoaringCaps is here with her quickies.

Posted by: Randolph2 | March 8, 2011 8:36 AM | Report abuse

Wow! I agree with almost all of the comments and it seems like we all watched the same game. :)

Just a few additions:

When MaJo starts connecting instead of whiffing on the chances he creates look out this kid is going to be dangerous.

Semin is indeed playing good inspired hockey.

Holtby played great and has indeed stepped up his shootout play. Of course it didn't hurt that he didn't have to face Stamkos and St. Louis in the shootout.

No "rope-a-dope" this time. They sent two hard forecheckers instead of one soft and sitting back in the neutral zone.

Nice back and forths battles between the coaches trying to get the guys out there they wanted.

I still think a TB player touched the puck that went on to be the delay of game call on Ovechkin. Although I'm not real sure what Ovechkin was trying to do there.

Posted by: BetterOffWithFedorov | March 8, 2011 8:40 AM | Report abuse


I wish the "Semin doesn't fit in North American hockey" routine would finally end. It makes no sense to say that about a player with his numbers. And I believe his defensive prowess and commitment have been underrated for quite some time. His role is that of a sniper, but he happens to be 2nd on the Caps (and in the top 25 in the league) in takeaways.

This is just part of the general misunderstanding of Semin that I think goes on. I just don't get it.

Posted by: BigMogilny | March 8, 2011 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Well Roloson threw his stick in OT which is an automatic penalty shot. But it was ignored.

But St. Louis was going to make contact with Holtby anyway because he was out of control crashing the crease. Laich's trip actually prevented St. Louis from making more contact with Holtby than he did.

Posted by: CapsNut | March 8, 2011 8:44 AM | Report abuse

We played with a lot of poise last night AND won the important faceoffs. Excellent win*

Posted by: Cletus_P | March 8, 2011 8:48 AM | Report abuse

@BigMogilny - Nobody knows Semin.

Its because Semin never gives interviews and his personality is a blank page to us so some people make up what he is about for him...His skills are certainly unique and other teams have to account for him, and that alone tells a lot about his role on the team.

Posted by: yesisaiditfirst | March 8, 2011 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Tampa needs to start whining about the non-call. It was close, it didn't go their way. Reading the Tampa article, they pin the entire loss on that call. Well you know what, Tampa? You were playing at home, against a team coming off a game the night before, and you were facing a third-string rookie goalie. So stop with the excuses.
And no, that's not a slight at Holtby. What a stud. But still, on the Caps, a 3rd string rookie is what he is.

Posted by: HeatherinMD | March 8, 2011 8:51 AM | Report abuse

ACK! I meant STOP whining, of course. Need more coffee.

Posted by: HeatherinMD | March 8, 2011 8:52 AM | Report abuse

That was a tremendous win for the Caps. In a game for first place in the division, the starting goaltender is out after the 1st and then their No. 1 center goes down it seemed they only got stronger. Holtby was calm and cool, his casual way of making great saves was a blast to watch. If we could get the Semin that played last night every night they could be hoisting the Cup this year. The emotion he should after scoring the game tying goal is something I haven’t seen in a very long time. He was also one of the first off the bench to congratulate Holtby after the game. MoJo’s play has improved dramatically over the past few weeks, can’t wait to get Fehr back so MoJo can get some help, I’m sure it’s very difficult for him to know that he won’t get to many points with his current line mates. I’ll cut Sturm some slack due to his injuries, but Chimera has to do something, very disappointing.

IMO the no-goal was the correct call. MSL was flying in there knowing there was a good chance he’d make contact with Holtby, Laich was in the correct position to block/prevent a possible shot. MSL could have charged the net and planted his rear in front of Laich. If TB fans want to complain about that, what was with the Hannan penalty? He was clearly interferred with then hooked.

I’d give the Caps a solid A for last night’s performance. Hopefully this is a beginning of a long run.

Posted by: ttenner | March 8, 2011 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Clutch win, but we're lucky we got it. Still need to find a way to get goals when teams collapse around the net on us. Holtby was excellent in relief, but I don't think it's time to mortgage the house either. This is just one game and I'd like to see how he does down the stretch in the Calder Cup this year. Then again, he may not get the opportunity b/c of Varlamovs tender loins. On the Tampa front, it will be interesting to see what happens with Stamkos this summer as he is an RFA. I'd love it if a team like Toronto gives him a big offer that Tampa has to refuse. Curious to see what he will fetch if it goes to arbitration. Luckily Tampa has some cap space coming to them with Gagne's 5.25 mil expiring and another 9 mil waiting for them. They're going to need to pick up some help on the back end too if they hope to challenge for a cup in the near future.

Posted by: chatton | March 8, 2011 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone know if this year still will count as Holtby's 1st year on his ELC if he doesn't play anymore games (he has played 9 games now)?
I'm pretty sure the limit for a 1 yr extension on the EL is 10 games, but I seem to recall some age-related issue in this matter as well.
If that isn't the case, and we do get to extend his ELC, I don't think we should play him anymore this year.
But knowing he'll be just fine on this level, we should try to trade Varly this off-season while his numbers are good and roll with Neuvy/Holtby next year!

The best suitors for Varly might be the Avs and the Devils, conisdering their current goalie situation (Avs have nobody good enough to be #1 and Brodeur is on his final years with the Devils). Outsiders being Phoenix (if they can't resign Bryzgalov), Ottawa (might resign Anderson), Islanders (if DiPietro keeps getting injured), Tampa (not likely to trade within the division though) and maybe Blue Jackets (not too pleased with Mason).

Posted by: Walle | March 8, 2011 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Re: Holtby

That was some interview with Pierre. Poised and intelligent responses from the 21-year old. Pierre and Versus' other announcers certainly gave him high marks - as a player and a spokesman.

Re: Semin

It's hard not to be a believer. Announcers last night seemed to have an epiphany as their praise of Semin increased through the game.

(Then, there is the Panthers' announcer the previous night calling Semin invisible as the Florida players kept him boxed out. Then he did his little OT score.)

Posted by: OccasionalCritic | March 8, 2011 9:10 AM | Report abuse

All things considered, Tampa should just shut up. The Caps lost their goalie and 1C during the game, has been without their top d-man, and faced the other factors that Heather mentions. From about the half way point of the game, the Caps took charge and their dominance steadily increased as the game went on. Tampa was lucky to get into overtime.

I'm sure Stamkos will get more MVP votes than Ovi, but Stamkos cannot begin to take over a game the way Ovi can. They are not even close in that regard. I'm not sure that Stamkos is even in Semin's league, when Semin wants to play like he did last night. Stamkos is a scorer, but has limited impact on a game beyond that.

Posted by: zmega | March 8, 2011 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Great win, but definitely a couple of things that were bothersome as the game should never have gone to the shootout.

Laich and Knuble - neither scored on easy one on one chances with the goalies. Laich didn't even force the goalie to make a good save in OT on the Ovie setup. Knuble had 3-4 shots in front of the net and didn't score. On nights where Ovie is constantly double covered, it's key that the secondary goal scorer come through.

Semin played with more fire than any game this season. He got into a couple of pushing matches after play was dead which was good to see and actually finished his checks. His offense was great, but I liked the aggressive play even more.

Posted by: wizfan89 | March 8, 2011 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Very glad to see the win after the love mission those announcers were on for TB. They are good but it seemed pulling teeth to highlight the fight in the caps. I assume those are the TB guys but I need beniati back on vs! Really made me realize how key our guys are during the games. Also wish I could've seen more caps fans be positive on ovi like they are stamkos on here months back when he was facing adversity. Hockeys odd like that but I never questioned skill, drive, commitment, love for the game in any of the caps.

Posted by: BKBK | March 8, 2011 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Holtby stepped up when Neuvirth went out. Arnott stepped up when Backstrom went out.

That's what depth is all about.

I think Semin and the rest of the Caps realized when Backstrom went out in the second period that extra effort was required of them to win the game and they turned up their effort.

Truthfully, the Caps should have had 2-3 goals in the third period. The last 7-8 minutes of the game had TB scrambling to preserve first their lead and then the single point for the tie.

There are a number of teams playing without starters, but the Caps without a healthy Backstrom, Green, Fehr and Varlamov showed their depth in getting this win and the one the other night.

The trades came at the right time. Wideman slid in when Green was hurt. Arnott has been able to step in for Backstrom taking draws late in games. Sturm has helped energize the Johansson line and generates a fair amount of scoring opportunities for a third line.

It's nice to have a third line with players who have that type of skating and puck handling skill.

Most teams don't have that.

Posted by: RoyHobbs4 | March 8, 2011 10:48 AM | Report abuse

As much as I like Varly if he gets a RFA offer of 1.5 or more, the Caps should seriously consider letting him go. The injury factor seems to be getting worse not better.
Fehr is going to stay on LTIR to save cap money. If Green stays out at least 27 days, the Caps can LTIR him & that solves the salary cap issue. It sure doesn't hurt the team or the salary cap that Poti is still hurt.

Posted by: chriscaps | March 8, 2011 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Here's what I saw last night...

Way to go Tampa Fans...were the yankees playing a spring training game? Yur team was playing for the division and you had 16K show up in your 20K arena...I wonder how many of those were Caps fans

BB had a beautiful callout of Stamkos. This kid already had the wieght of the world on his shoulders not scoring in 11 games and boom BB had him thinking about one more thing...

For a while there I thought I was watching Buster Douglas knock out Mike Tyson the way Holtby was casually catching the puck as if he was playing catch in the back yard with his then the kid showed us really something in the shootout...If you remember the last time was a total disaster...

Speaking of shootouts and the way Boucher picks his players...pretty obvious to me he has a pretty spirited competition in practice to decide who gets to shoot...

Posted by: mikehauter | March 8, 2011 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Boucher can whine all he wants about the non-goal, but he had better explain why he has two of the elite goal scorers in the league in Stamkos and Saint Louis sitting on the bench during the shootout against a goalie barely old enough to shave. Roll those two out there and Holtby might have panicked.

That said, Holtby was sensational, and Semin showed why GMGM was right to not trade him. When he is interested, he is as dangerous a talent as there is in the league.

Posted by: DC2Dallas | March 8, 2011 12:13 PM | Report abuse

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