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How a funny moment in overtime could shift Washington's defensive strategy

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USA TODAY Sports

How a funny moment in overtime could shift Washington's defensive strategy

The NHL put teams on notice in the preseason. The league's emphasis on faceoff violations was on full display as player after player was kicked out of the circle and some even were sent to the penalty box. Though linesmen have not been as strict in the regular season, those violations are still having impacts on the game. On Monday, another faceoff violation put John Carlson in a tricky situation that could have cost Washington the game.

With the game tied at 2 in overtime, Braden Holtby froze the puck creating a defensive zone draw. Barry Trotz sent Jay Beagle, the team’s best faceoff man, out to take the draw on his strong side along with Carlson and Christian Djoos.

“From a defending standpoint,” Trotz said after the game, “I thought if we get Beags out there, we win the draw and we get possession and then we get a change and we'll get a forward back on, but didn’t work out that way.”

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Instead, Beagle was promptly dismissed from the faceoff circle and that put the Caps in a bind. With the only forward already kicked out and the other defenseman a rookie, that meant Carlson would have to take the draw.

It went about as well as you would expect.

“Carly didn't look very comfortable taking the draw,” Trotz said. “It was good that he got the winning goal, guys were joking about it.”

Despite being a defenseman, Carlson was actually annoyed he lost the draw.

“I was pissed,” Carlson said. “I was happy to take the draw, I was just pissed that I lost it. I used to practice all the time, but the centers don't let me practice all the time so I blame it on Beags.”

MORE CAPITALS: YES, CARLSON GOT THE OT GOAL, BUT DON'T FORGET THE WORK ELLER AND OSHIE DID TO SET HIM UP

Fortunately, Arizona was not able to score after gaining possession on the faceoff. The Caps ultimately won the game so the moment is something the team can laugh at now, but the incident may actually cause a shift in how Trotz approaches overtime defensive zone draws in the future.

“We've talked in the past about should we go two D in the 3-on-3 or should we go two forwards?” he said. “We've been bouncing back and forth a little bit on that based on how many minutes our D are playing and that. We might have to rethink that a little bit because that's happening a lot.”

In overtime, every possession is critical. Given the amount of space on the ice and with an extra point hanging in the balance, teams cannot simply yield possession every time a player gets kicked out of the circle, especially when the faceoff is being taken in the defensive zone.

A funny moment? Yes, but it also could spark a shift in the Caps’ overtime strategy.

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Barry Trotz explains why Philipp Grubauer will get the start vs. the NHL-best Bolts

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USA TODAY Sports

Barry Trotz explains why Philipp Grubauer will get the start vs. the NHL-best Bolts

Coach Barry Trotz did not make any changes to his forward combos or defensive pairs of ahead of Friday’s showdown with the NHL-best Lightning.

He did, however, make a significant change elsewhere: Philipp Grubauer will get the nod against the Bolts as the Caps begin a tough back-to-back set that wraps up Saturday night in Toronto.

It’ll be Grubauer’s second start on home ice this season.

“Just to change a little bit of the order there,” Trotz explained. “Grubi has worked hard. It gives him an opportunity at home.”

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Grubauer, who turns 26 on Saturday and has family in town, is still searching for his first win of the season. He’s 0-5-1 with a 3.86 goals against average and a .876 save percentage. In fairness, though, he’s drawn some tough assignments. In fact, four of his six starts have been the backend of a back-to-back.

“More than anything,” Trotz added, “he just deserved it.”

There’s also this: Grubauer is 3-0-1 vs. the Lightning in his career, with a .923 save percentage and a 2.61 goals against average.

Asked how much matchups factor into goaltending decisions, Trotz said: “A little bit but not really. I wanted to give him a home start, so why not now?”

With Grubauer set to face Nikita Kucherov and Co., Braden Holtby figures to get the Leafs at Air Canada Centre on Saturday night.

MORE CAPITALS: HOW A PENALTY KILL DECIDED A GAME THAT WAS ALL ABOUT OFFENSE

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The Capitals' presence was felt at the Redskins' Thanksgiving game

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Via @JPFinlayNBCS

The Capitals' presence was felt at the Redskins' Thanksgiving game

Thanksgiving Day is a holiday that tends to be dominated by football. Even with the Redskins hosting the New York Giants on Thursday, the Capitals' still had their presence felt.

Andre Burakovsky decided to spend his Thanksgiving night at FedEx Field at the game to cheer on the Redskins. He tweeted out a picture from his seat.

Just as Burakovsky was there supporting the Redskins, Redskins offensive lineman Morgan Moses was showing love for the Caps with an Alex Ovechkin jersey.

The Redskins pulled out a critical 20-10 win over the division-rival Giants on Thursday giving everyone something to celebrate on the holiday. The Capitals will try to keep the hometown fans happy as they host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday.

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