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How the Caps got Alex Ovechkin wide open for the overtime winner in Detroit

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USA TODAY Sports

How the Caps got Alex Ovechkin wide open for the overtime winner in Detroit

The Washington Capitals are back in the win column thanks to a 4-3 overtime win in Detroit on Friday. Alex Ovechkin netted the game winner on a wide-open one timer that beat goalie Petr Mrazek.

How does Ovechkin get wide open in overtime? Because the Detroit Red Wings all got caught watching Nicklas Backstrom on a beautiful cycle by the Caps.

When you have to cover Ovechkin in a four-on-three penalty kill, you have your hands full. There is a lot open ice for the power play to work with in those situations. In a regular power play, we often seen teams play Ovechkin closely, sometimes even dedicating a player specifically on him and going four on three with the rest of the power play.

RELATED: ANDRE BURAKOVSKY WAS CHALLENGED BY HIS COACH AND HE RESPONDED

Look how closely the Red Wings were covering Ovechkin on a power play earlier in the game.

There’s not a lot of room to work with, but you can’t play that tight on a four on three penalty kill.

With only three penalty killers on the ice, they have to play closer into the net. You may leave end up leaving Ovechkin open for the shot, but at the very least you can get a body in front of him to either block the shot or pressure him when he has the puck.

Here is what Detroit’s three-man penalty kill looks like when it is set up.

The Red Wings are yielding the point to John Carlson but are tight in front and in good position to attack the players set up in more dangerous areas.

But this all breaks down if the players get caught watching the puck instead of focusing on their assignment. We saw this in the second period when, on a five-on-four, all four of Detroit's penalty killers move too far over to one side leaving Ovechkin wide open for a one-timer.

Somehow Mrazek stopped it, but I am sure his life flashed before his eyes when he saw the Great 8 stepping up for the clear shot. Even though it did not result in a goal, it was a clear breakdown by the defense as the Caps were able to draw the penalty killers out of position.

On a three-man penalty kill, the penalty killers do not want to move. They want to stay in position and attack you when you come too close. So how do you draw them out of position? You cycle.

Watch how much the Caps move with and without the puck on this power play.

MORE CAPITALS: WHO STOOD OUT IN DETROIT?

What the Caps are essentially doing here is fishing. They have their line out and are waiting to catch one of the penalty killers. Backstrom eventually does as Luke Glendening chases after him and the puck. The result?

Yeah, can’t leave that guy open twice and live to tell about it.

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Game 48: Capitals vs. Flyers Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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USA TODAY Sports

Game 48: Capitals vs. Flyers Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Philadelphia Flyers

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

When: 12:30 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Flyers will be broadcast on NBC

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

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

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-FLYERS GAME?

The Capitals (28-15-4) take on the Flyers (22-16-8) Sunday, January 21 at 12:30 p.m. ET in Washington.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-FLYERS GAME ON?

The Capitals-Flyers game will be broadcast on NBC. Coverage kicks off on NBC Sports Washington with Capitals FaceOff at  11:30 a.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 12:00 p.m. Check back with NBC Sports Washington for postgame coverage starting with Caps Extra following the game and Caps Overtime at 3:30 p.m. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

11:30 a.m. — Caps FaceOff
12:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
12:30 p.m. — Capitals vs. Flyers on NBC
3:00 p.m. — Caps Extra
3:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-FLYERS GAME?

The Capitals-Flyers game is available to stream live here through NBC Sports.  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 THE CAPITALS-FLYERS GAME?

Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Flyers game:

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Tom Wilson
Andre Burakovsky - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Chandler Stephenson - Lars Eller - Brett Connolly
Devante Smith-Pelly - 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: Jakub Vrana, Taylor Chorney

CAPITALS-FLYERS 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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3 reasons the Caps lost to the Canadiens

3 reasons the Caps lost to the Canadiens

The Caps battled through the rust on Thursday to earn a point in New Jersey. On Friday, rust cost them yet again as they fell 3-2 to the Montreal Canadiens.

Here's why they lost.

4 shots on goal in the first period

Canadiens goalie Antti Niemi has had his struggles this season. Yes, he has played better since getting claimed off waivers by Montreal, but getting to play against Niemi instead of Carey Price wass a golden opportunity for the Caps to generate some offense. Washington, however, had very little offense to speak at the end of the night. How did they respond with Niemi in net? By getting only four shots in the first period. Four. They finished with 26 shots on goal for the game, but had they come out swinging in the first and put pressure up early on Niemi, they could have gotten a much different result.

RELATED: CHECK OUT THE 3 STARS OF THE GAME FOR CAPS-HABS

Bad passing

After the game, Lars Eller said "It was one of the sloppiest games we've played if not the sloppiest. I don't think we've given up so any odd-man rushes or chances in one game." In no aspect were the Caps more sloppy than with their passing. Here are just a few examples.

A cross-ice backhand pass in the defensive zone? Really? You are not going to be successful trying to make those type of plays and it cost the Caps. They could not maintain possession of the puck or breakout of their zone and it led to several odd-man rushes for Montreal.

Rust

It's not an excuse. The Caps should have played better on Friday regardless, but there's no arguing the fact that rust was a factor. It was abundantly clear that the Caps were out of sync. That will happen when you are playing on the second leg of a back-to-back with no practice time.

Saturday's practice will be absolutely critical since Washington faces a matinee game on Sunday, their third contest in four days.