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A coach's decision, not injury, kept Burakovsky out in the third period against Columbus

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USA TODAY Sports

A coach's decision, not injury, kept Burakovsky out in the third period against Columbus

Andre Burakovsky's difficult season continued on Tuesday as the young winger was benched for the entire third period of Washington's 3-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Burakovsky's last shift of the game ended with 2:11 remaining in the second period. On the shift, Burakovsky turned the puck over at the blue line in the defensive zone, leading to a long-range shot from Cam Atkinson that was saved by Braden Holtby. For the game, he was a minus-1 with two shots on goal.

RELATED: SEE THE 3 STARS OF CAPS-JACKETS

Head coach Barry Trotz was not asked about Burakovsky after the game, but Injury was not a factor as a team official confirmed to NBC Sports Washington on Wednesday that Burakovsky not playing in the third period was a coach's decision.

It has been a difficult season for the 22-year-old winger who many hoped would be a breakout player in his fourth season with the team. A fractured thumb Burakovsky suffered at the end of October forced him to miss 20 games. In the 28 games he has played, he has failed to find the offensive consistency the team was hoping for with only four goals and 11 assists and has at times been a healthy scratch out of the lineup.

MORE CAPITALS: 4 REASONS THE CAPS BEAT THE BLUE JACKETS

Tuesday's performance was significant in that Burakovsky was reunited with Brett Connolly and Lars Eller, a line that played tremendously well together last season. With an off-day on Wednesday, Thursday will be our first chance to see if Burakovsky remains in the lineup for the second leg of the home-and-home against Columbus.

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Capitals Extra Podcast: Trade deadline story time with Alan May

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NBC Sports Washington

Capitals Extra Podcast: Trade deadline story time with Alan May

Alan May knows a thing or two about the trade deadline.

Over the course of his NHL career, May was traded five total times, four at the trade deadline. He sits down with Rob Carlin on a special edition of the Capitals Extra Podcast to tell stories from his playing days about what it was like getting traded.

This one's a can't miss for hockey fans. You can listen to the episode here on the Capitals Extra page or with the player below.

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NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?

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USA TODAY Sports

NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?

The Hart Trophy is given to the player judged to be the most valuable to their team. With the Caps currently struggling in almost every aspect of the game, consider this: Just where would they be without Alex Ovechkin?

Washington ranks 10th in the NHL in goals per game with 3.05. Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals with 36. He has scored an incredible 19-percent of his team's goals. No one on the Caps is within 20 goals of the Caps' captain.

That's not a typo. Evgeny Kuznetsov ranks second on the team with 16 goals. No other team in the league has a larger separation between its top two scorers. In fact, only three teams have a difference that's in the double digits: Vancouver (11), San Jose (10) and New Jersey (10).

Ovechkin is almost singlehandedly propping up Washington as a top-ten offense. If you think about just where this offense would be without him, there's a pretty strong case to be made that Ovechkin is as valuable to his team this season as any other player in the league.

SEE THIS WEEK'S 2018 NHL AWARDS TRACKER HERE

Here are the Caps' hopefuls for awards this season:

John Carlson

In contention for: Norris

Carlson is fifth among all defensemen with 45 points, but his case goes beyond the numbers. With a blue line that has featured two rookies the majority of the season, an aging veteran in Brooks Orpik and that had to deal with an injury to Matt Niskanen, the Caps have asked a lot of Carlson this season and he has always been up to the task.

Alex Ovechkin

In contention for: Hart

Few players, if any, are as important to their team's offensive production and therefore its success than Ovechkin has been this season.

Check out who the top candidates are for the league's major individual awards in this week's 2018 NHL Awards Tracker!