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4 reasons why the Caps beat the Wild

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USA TODAY Sports

4 reasons why the Caps beat the Wild

The Capitals snapped an ugly two-game losing streak as they returned home to defeat the Minnesota Wild 3-1 on Saturday.

Here's how they won.

A better start

It did not take long in Washington's loss to Nashville or Colorado for you to know the Caps were in trouble. Nashville hit the post in the first minute of the game, while the Avalanche scored 17 seconds in. Washington left both periods down 2-0. That was not the case on Saturday. The Caps showed a lot more energy right from the drop of the puck against Minnesota. This time instead of chasing the game, Washington took control and earned a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes.

Holtby’s impossible save

Protecting a 2-1 lead in the second period, Holtby kept the Caps ahead with an impossible save. After stopping a shot from Joel Eriksson that looked like it caught him in the collarbone, there was a battle for the rebound. Brooks Orpik tried to muscle Eriksson out, but Eriksson knocked into Holtby. Pinned by Orpik, Eriksson could not get away which left Holtby pinned against the right post. A trailing Kyle Quincey ended up with the puck and had half the net to shoot on so he smartly tried to tuck the shot just inside the left post. Somehow, some way, Holtby managed to stretch the glove out to get in front of the puck and keep Washington ahead.

Jason Zucker shut down

Minnesota forward Jason Zucker came into Saturday's contest with a five-game goal streak in which he has scored eight goals. That streak ended on Saturday as Zucker got a heavy dose of Dmitry Orlov and Matt Niskanen on the blue line and the forward combo of Chandler Stephenson, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie. They held the Minnesota forward to just two shots on goal.

Just enough from the penalty kill

No one will mistake the Caps' penalty kill as a shutdown unit and they again allowed a power play goal on Saturday, the fourth they have allowed in three games. But the PK unit always seems to be at its best when the game is on the line. After giving up a goal on Minnesota's first opportunity, the Caps clamped down and killed off Minnesota's three other power play opportunities. In what was a tight game from start to finish, a goal in any of those three chances would have changed the course of the game dramatically.

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Game 32: Capitals vs. Avalanche Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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Game 32: Capitals vs. Avalanche Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Colorado Avalanche

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

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

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Avalanche 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-AVALANCHE GAME?

The Capitals (18-12-1) take on the Avalanche (14-13-2) Tuesday, December 12 at 7:00 p.m. ET at Capital One Arena.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-AVALANCHE GAME ON?

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

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Avalanche
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:00 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-AVALANCHE GAME?

The Capitals-Avalanche 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-AVALANCHE?

Here are the Caps' projected lines:

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

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

Goalies
Philipp Grubauer starts with Braden Holtby as backup.

Scratches: T.J. Oshie (upper-body injury), Taylor Chorney

CAPITALS-AVALANCHE 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.

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4 reasons the Caps lost to the Islanders

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4 reasons the Caps lost to the Islanders

A red-hot Capitals team traveled to Brooklyn where they were handed a 3-1 loss by the New York Islanders. Washington gave up an early goal in the first period and two early goals in the second that ultimately put the game out of reach.

Here is how it happened.

The first 94 seconds of the second period

The Caps trailed 1-0 at the end of the first and seemed fortunate to be down by only one. That luck ran out very quickly in the second period. Andrew Ladd scored just 36 seconds into the period and John Tavares added another just 58 seconds later. A 1-0 deficit turned into a 3-0 deficit in just 94 seconds.

Defensive breakdowns

Braden Holtby was pulled in the second period after giving up three goals, but if is hard to put this loss on Holtby's shoulders. He did not get much help at all from the defense as the Caps were frequently caught out of position by the Islanders. Watch how little movement there is from the players in white on this play.

Josh Bailey found himself in the middle of four Caps players, none challenged him and, even worse, no one covered John Tavares. It was an easy pass for Bailey and an easy goal for Tavares.

No sustained offensive pressure

The Islanders entered the game ranked 29th in goals against per game, yet the Caps could not take advantage. Washington fired 32 shots on goal, but could not create much sustained offensive pressure. There were not many cycles, not many won puck battles in the corners, not many second-chance opportunities, not many opportunities at all. Even the Caps' lone goal came from an end-to-end drive that Dmitry Orlov fired into the net.

Jaroslav Halak

While the Caps did not have many high-quality opportunities, the few they did have Jaroslav Halak was able to turn aside and he made it look easy. Halak has not had a great season, but you would not have known it given the way he played on Monday. He looked very comfortable in net, even when the Caps did manage to pressure him and recorded 31 saves on the night.