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3 stars of the game: Caps' stars come up big under the stars in Stadium Series game


3 stars of the game: Caps' stars come up big under the stars in Stadium Series game

In a game played under the stars, it was the Capitals’ stars who came to play in Saturday’s Stadium Series as the Capitals dominated the Toronto Maple Leafs in a 5-2 win.

Evgeny Kuznetsov scored less than four minutes in to start off what would be a three-goal period for Washington. Alex Ovechkin also scored career goal No. 598, his 40th of the season, as the Caps jumped out to a 3-1 lead.

Toronto tried to make a game of it as Nazem Kadri pulled the Leafs to within one in the second, but goals from John Carlson and Jakub Vrana iced the game away after just 40 minutes.

A brief power outage delayed the third period somewhat, but could not delay the inevitable Capitals win.

RELATED: After scuffling through February, Capitals finally rise to the occasion on the big stage​

Here are the three stars of the game.

1. Evgeny Kuznetsov: The tone was set early as Kuznetsov opened the scoring less than four minutes into the game as he planted himself in front of the net and collected a Frederik Andersen rebound for the power play tally. His first assist was even prettier as he drove to the net, then left a drop pass that somehow found Nicklas Backstrom in between all four of the Leafs’ penalty killers. In the second period, Kuznetsov collected a turnover forced by Dmitry Orlov in the neutral zone and passed it up to spring Jakub Vrana on the breakaway for a badly needed goal.

2. Nicklas Backstrom: Backstrom had a hand in all three of Washington’s first period goals with a goal and two assists. He was the beneficiary of Kuznetsov’s drop pass which he netted to give Washington a 3-1 lead. Prior to that, Backstrom fired the initial shot that Kuznetsov was able to bang in for the first goal of the game. He and Tom Wilson also got in on a puck battle behind the net, eventually winning it so Wilson could pass to Ovechkin in the slot for the goal.

3. John Carlson: Carlson assisted on both of Washington’s power play tallies in the first period, then added a goal of his own in the second. He joined the rush with Jay Beagle and Chandler Stephenson and fired a slap shot on Frederik Andersen. The Leafs netminder turned the shot aside right to Stephenson. Andersen and the Toronto defense adjusted too far over to account for Stephenson, leaving Carlson open. Stephenson swung the puck back to center for the easy tap-in.

More Caps: Caps have nothing but praise for their Stadium Series hosts​

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3 reasons the Caps beat the Stars

3 reasons the Caps beat the Stars

The Washington Capitals had not beaten the Dallas Stars at home since 2006, Alex Ovechkin's second season in the NHL. That streak ended on Tuesday in a 4-3 Caps win.

Here's how the Caps were finally able to down Dallas in Washington.

Oshie still hot

After going 19 straight games without a goal, T.J. Oshie has been red-hot of late with four goals in his last four games. He scored Washington’s first goal in what would become a three-goal period for the Caps as they battled back from a 1-0 deficit into a 3-3 tie through 40 minutes. Oshie also added an assist as he won a power play faceoff that John Carlson fed to Alex Ovechkin for the goal.


Ovechkin victimizing his favorite target

You knew Ovechkin would score given he was playing against one of his favorite targets. With his second period goal, Ovechkin now has 22 goals against Kari Lehtonen in his career, tied with Henrik Lundqvist for the most goals he has scored on any netminder. Lehtonen has not been in the Eastern Conference since the 2008-09 season. When he goes to sleep at night, Ovechkin is who he sees in his nightmares.

The Carlson-Klingberg duel

Carlson and John Klingberg entered Tuesday’s game each with 59 points, tied for the league lead in points among defensemen. Carlson downplayed the matchup both before and after the game, but it was clear that both players were playing at another level all game long. While both players tallied two points on the night, you have to give the win to Carlson as he had the most significant point, a game-winning goal in the third period.


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Tarik's 3 Stars: Ovechkin further cements his place in history

Tarik's 3 Stars: Ovechkin further cements his place in history

Alex Ovechkin further cemented his place in NHL history, John Carlson stayed hot and Braden Holtby was good when called upon as the Caps downed the Stars, 4-3, at Capital One Arena on Tuesday night.

The victory was Washington’s fifth in the past six games. It also marked the Caps’ first win over Dallas in D.C. since 2006.

Tarik’s three stars of the game:

1-Alex Ovechkin, Capitals

Ovechkin scored his 44th goal of the season and the 602nd of his career in the second period to give the Caps a short-lived 3-2 edge in the second period.

The goal put Ovi back atop the league as he seeks a seventh Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy. It also pushed him past Jari Karri and into sole possession of 19th place on the NHL’s all-time list. Ovechkin has now victimized Kari Lehtonen 22 times, which is tied for the most goals he’s scored against a single netminder. (Henrik Lundqvist has also given up 22 goals to No. 8). Ovi also had a couple of secondary helpers.

2-John Carlson, Capitals

Carlson scored the game-winner 4:59 with left to play, blasting a one-timer past Lehtonen to put the Caps ahead 4-3.

Carlson also notched an assist, which allowed him to stay even with Dallas’ John Klingberg. Klingberg had two assists. Both players ended the game with 61 points—tied for the most among all NHL defensemen.    

3-Alexander Radulov, Stars

From his first shift, it was apparent that Radulov was determined to leave his mark on the game. And he did just that, recording a goal, an assist and boarding minor that bloodied Caps defenseman Michal Kempny. Radulov’s goal—a redirection of a John Klingberg shot—was his 26th and it evened the score, 2-2, in the second period.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think in the comments.