Quick Links

Kuznetsov uses trickery on the power play to steal the puck and set up a crucial goal


Kuznetsov uses trickery on the power play to steal the puck and set up a crucial goal

With less than a minute remaining in the second period on Saturday, Alex Ovechkin scored the go-ahead goal on the power play on a play that was all set up by Evgeny Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov was to set that play thanks to a cheeky trick he pulled on the Columbus Blue Jackets.

After jumping out to a 2-0 lead, the Caps saw the Columbus Blue Jackets score twice in the second period to tie the game. With all the momentum now with Columbus and the clock ticking down in the second period, the Caps had a chance to retake control with a later power play opportunity. Nicklas Backstrom lost the initial faceoff which should have allowed Columbus the opportunity to kill off most of the rest of the period, but instead Kuznetsov was able to get the puck back.

How? It looked like a perfect read of the Blue Jackets' penalty kill, but it was actually much simpler than that.

Columbus defenseman David Savard had the puck in the corner and tried to pass the puck behind the net, but Kuznetsov was there so quickly off the faceoff, it looked like he knew it would be there. With the puck, the Caps were able to set up the power play and Ovechkin scored a critical goal to put the Caps up 3-2 late in the second.

Craig Laughlin broke the play down on the broadcast.

He may not have gotten an assist on the play, but Kuznetsov set the entire play up with his beautiful read and quick action to get behind the net to intercept the pass.

Only that's not what happened.

"I actually call it, for the puck," Kuznetsov told the media after the game.

You can see from the replay, Savard never looks where he is passing the puck until after it has left his stick. It goes right to the waiting Kuznetsov.

Yes, Savard fell for one of the oldest tricks in the book. Kuznetsov's quick thinking helped the Caps retake the lead and earn an important win over the division-leading Blue Jackets.

Quick Links

NHL Power Rankings: The home stretch

USA Today Sports

NHL Power Rankings: The home stretch

We are down to the home stretch. Only 10 games remain in the Capitals' regular season. Those 10 games will ultimately decide if the Caps finish in first place in the Metropolitan Division and who they will play in the first round of the playoffs.

Washington currently sits in first place in the division, two points ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins and four points ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers. Of those 10 remaining games, only three come against teams currently in playoff position. The most critical of these comes on April 1 when the Caps travel to Pittsburgh in a game that could ultimately decide the division.

The Caps still hold a narrow lead in the standings, but where do they stand in the rankings? See this week's updated NHL Power Rankings here.

Quick Links

3 stars of the game: A lethargic loss in Philadelphia


3 stars of the game: A lethargic loss in Philadelphia

Playing three games in four days takes a toll on even the fittest athletes, and it was their sluggish start that doomed the Capitals in a 6-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. 

After being noncomittal about his starting goalie all weekend, Coach Barry Trotz put Philipp Grubauer in net. Grubauer ended up making 29 saves on 34 shots. Offensively, the Caps got goals from Alex Ovechkin, Chandler Stephenson, and John Carlson. Carlson's third period goal cut the Flyers' lead to two with a little over three minutes to go, but a Jakub Voracek empty-netter a few moments later was the nail in the coffin. 

Here are your three stars from the game: 

1. Travis Boyd had the play of the game for the Capitals. Boyd carried the puck into the Flyer's zone, cut through multiple defenders and fired a slick shot to a streaking Ovechkin, who burried the puck in the back of the net. Check it out: 

Not only was the play nice on its own, but it was Boyd's first NHL point. Not a bad way to get it. 

2. Shayne Gostisbehere​ got the Flyers going with his goal in the first period. The defenseman had one goal on five shots along with being an intimidating force in the defensive zone. After going six weeks without scoring, today's goal was Gostisbehere's second goal in three games. 

3. Wayne Simmonds was the best offensive player on the ice on Sunday, scoring twice - both in the final period. It was the 22nd and 23rd goals of the season for the 29-year-old winger. It was also the first multi-goal game for Simmonds since Opening Night, when he had two against San Jose. 

The Caps hit the ice next on Tuesday, when they welcome the Dallas Stars to the Capital One Center.