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3 reasons why the Caps beat the Rangers

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3 reasons why the Caps beat the Rangers

The Washington Capitals and New York Rangers found themselves locked in a 2-2 tie in the third period, but it was the Capitals who were able to breakthrough for two goals late for the victory.

Here's how Washington was able to get the win.

An early lead

The Capitals drew first blood early, as in 14 seconds early. That’s how long it took for Jay Beagle to give Washington the lead. On what looked like a broken zone entry for the Caps, Devante Smith-Pelly chipped a loose puck over to Jay Beagle in the high slot and he was able to fire a wrister past Henrik Lundqvist. In a game in which New York looked to be in command at several points, the Rangers ultimately never led. They were always chasing the Caps.

CHECK OUT THE 3 STARS OF THE GAME FOR CAPS-RANGERS

Braden Holtby (especially in the second period)

The Caps leaned on Holtby in this game, especially in the second period. Washington entered the second with a 1-0 lead and even extended that lead to 2-0, but it was New York who looked to be in control. Yet, Holtby was at the top of his game and he did everything he could to maintain the Caps' lead. He turned aside 12 of the 13 shots he faced in the second including this one-timer from the slot from Mats Zuccarello.

This game could have been very different given New Yorks' push in the middle frame. Holtby made sure it wasn't.

MORE CAPITALS: LISTEN TO THE LATEST CAPITALS FACEOFF PODCAST

Top-line Tom

With the score tied at 2 in the third period, it wasn't Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom who saved the Caps, but Tom Wilson who continues to look right at home playing on the team's top offensive line. With less than four minutes to go, Wilson generated a turnover in the neutral zone and took the puck hard to the net. He didn't score, but the scrambling Rangers' defense could not clear the puck allowing the Caps to maintain possession. A long-range shot from Ovechkin was stopped by Henrik Lundqvist, but Wilson made a great diving tip to Matt Niskanen who tapped in what would be the game-winning goal. Just two minutes later, Wilson would put the exclamation point on the win with a goal of his own. He took a pass in the neutral zone and turned on the jets to get behind the defense and then neatly tucked the puck in the net behind a sprawling Lundqvist.

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3 stars of the game: Caps fight back to earn a point, but fall in overtime

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3 stars of the game: Caps fight back to earn a point, but fall in overtime

The Caps' return from the bye did not go quite according to plan as Washington fell 4-3 in overtime to the New Jersey Devils.

Both teams battled to a 1-1 tie through 20 minutes, but New Jersey took a two-goal lead in the second period. Dmitry Orlov pulled the Caps within one late in the second just 14 seconds after the Devils took the 3-1 lead. Brett Connolly then tied the game with under four minutes remaining in the third with his second goal of the night thus guaranteeing a point for both teams. Ultimately, the Caps would be handed the defeat in overtime as Taylor Hall scored just 34 seconds into the extra session.

MORE CAPS: IMPROVEMENTS THAT CAN BE MADE IN THE SECOND HALF

Here are the three stars of the game.

1. Brett Connolly: He did it again. Just before the bye it was Connolly who tied the game against the Carolina Hurricanes late in the third before Jay Beagle won on the buzzer-beater. This time, Connolly tied the game in New Jersey with less than four minutes remaining. He found a soft spot in the defense in the high-slot and Evgeny Kuznetsov was able to find him from behind the goal line. Connolly may have whiffed on the shot as it stayed on the ice, but it got the job down, sliding through Keith Kinkaid and into the net. It was Connolly's second goal of the night as he also had Washington's first goal. This is the second two-goal game of Connolly's career.

2. Sami Vatanen: The Devils took control in the second period with two goals and Vatanen assisted on both of them. He first created a turnover in the defensive zone and the resulting rush ended with a goal for Andy Greene. Later in the period, the puck came to Vatanen on a faceoff. He saw Miles Wood could split the defense so he flipped the puck up in the air over the head of the defense creating a foot race. Wood won it and scored on the breakaway. Vatanen earned a third assist in overtime as he tipped the puck past Dmitry Orlov on the wall up to Hall who tipped the puck past Evgeny Kuznetsov and took it all the way for the game-winner.

3.  Tom Wilson: The Caps had five power plays on the night and Wilson drew three of them. First he was sent flying when Damon Severson stuck out his leg to prevent the streaking Wilson from getting by him in the defensive zone and chasing the puck. Later in the second period, Wilson delivered a thunderous, but legal hit to Brian Gibbons and Brian Boyle took issue with it. Wilson was all too happy to drop the gloves in response, but Boyle received the extra two minutes for instigating. Finally in the third, Travis Zajac interfered with Wilson as he knocked him into the New Jersey net with enough force to send the net off its moorings. Wilson ended up seeing time on the top line in the third period.

RELATED: JAY BEAGLE TAKES PENALTY KILL ISSUES PERSONALLY

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Game 46: Capitals at Devils Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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Game 46: Capitals at Devils Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. New Jersey Devils

Where: Prudential Center, Newark, N.J.

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Devils will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Devils game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

You can also stream the game online with no cable TV subscription on fuboTV (try for free!).

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-DEVILS GAME?

The Capitals (28-14-3) take on the Devils (23-12-8) Thursday, January 18 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Newark.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-DEVILS GAME ON?

The Capitals-Devils game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at  6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. β€” Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. β€” Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. β€” Capitals at Devils
9:30 p.m. β€” Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. β€” Caps Overtime
11:00 p.m. β€” Caps in 30

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-DEVILS GAME?

The Capitals-Devils game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

The game is also available to stream, along with all the pregame and postgame shows, on fuboTV (try for free).

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR CAPITALS-DEVILS?

Here are the projected lines for Capitals-Devils:

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Devante Smith-Pelly
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Tom Wilson
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - T.J. Oshie
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Alex Chiasson

Defensemen
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Brooks Orpik - Madison Bowey

Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches: Andre Burakovsky, Taylor Chorney

CAPITALS-DEVILS OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.