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Tarik's 3 Stars: Kuznetsov, Caps bottle up Canucks, 3-1

Tarik's 3 Stars: Kuznetsov, Caps bottle up Canucks, 3-1

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Philipp Grubauer and a balanced scoring attack helped the Caps down the Canucks, 3-1, at Capital One Arena on Tuesday night. 

The victory was the Metro-leading Caps' fifth straight overall and 10th in a row on home ice—the longest such streak in the league this year.

Tarik’s three stars of the game:

1-Evgeny Kuznetsov, Capitals

Kuzy notched his first point in four games, a second period score that put the Caps ahead 3-1. It was a weird one; Kuznetsov’s shot was stopped by Jacob Markstrom, but the puck appeared to be knocked in by Vancouver defenseman Erik Gudbranson, who attempted to bat the puck away.

Kuzy directed five shots at the net (three on target) and was credited with a hit. 

2-Lars Eller, Capitals

Eller’s snipe put the Caps ahead 2-1 late in the first period.

No. 20’s tally marked the first time all season he’s scored in back-to-back games. He now has three goals in the last five contests.   

3-John Carlson, Capitals

After the Caps surrendered an early power play goal, Carlson evened things up with a goal that slipped through Markstrom. Like Kuzy’s goal, there were extenuating circumstances. The net had been tipped up on top of the Canucks’ goalie, who was also being screened by a teammate. Vancouver head coach Travis Green challenged on grounds of goalie interference, but the goal was allowed to stand.

Carlson has five goals and 34 points—just three points behind his total in 72 games last season.

RELATED: John Carlson scores on one of the most bizarre plays you will ever see

Agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think in the comments.

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NHL Power Rankings: The Caps are singing the bye week blues

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NHL Power Rankings: The Caps are singing the bye week blues

A Capitals team that struggles after lengthy breaks is now indeed struggling after its return from the bye week. Since returning on Thursday against the New Jersey Devils, the Caps have lost three straight games including two at home with only two points to show for their efforts.

Heading into the bye, Washington looked like one of the top teams in the NHL with 14 wins in 19 games. Now, they have taken a step back and are working at returning to the level they were playing just a week ago.

CHECK OUT THIS WEEK'S NHL POWER RANKINGS HERE

Oh, and to make matters worse, the Caps do not play again until Thursday and then are off for the All-Star break.

It's Jan. 22 and Washington has only two more games this month. Even if they do figure things out on Thursday against the Florida Panthers, they will have to figure it out all over again when they return from the All-Star break on Jan. 31 against the Philadelphia Flyers.

So where do the Caps rank after their recent slide and how far could they fall if they do not right the ship? Find out here in this week's NHL Power Rankings!

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Think Jakub Vrana's ice time shows Barry Trotz was unhappy with his play? Think again

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Think Jakub Vrana's ice time shows Barry Trotz was unhappy with his play? Think again

It was a bit of a surprise to see Jakub Vrana in the lineup against the Philadelphia Flyers. On Saturday in practice, Barry Trotz mixed his lines up and it appeared that Vrana would be the odd-man out. On Sunday, however, when the team took to the ice for warmups prior to the game against the Philadelphia Flyers, Vrana lined up on the fourth line with Jay Beagle and Devante Smith-Pelly.

Did the near scratch spark Vrana to more production? Not exactly.

RELATED: HERE'S WHY THE CAPS LOST TO PHILADELPHIA

Vrana played a career-low 6:25 against the Flyers. He had zero shot attempts or hits. There were only two stats on his stat line from the final box score: One giveaway and one drawn penalty.

Despite that, Trotz was complimentary of the 21-year-old forward following the game.

"What I like about Jake, he competed," Trotz said. "I know he doesn't have the minutes tonight, but he competed and that's what the message was. I met with him this morning and a little bit on the ice the other day and I just said the skill doesn't come out unless that level of desperation and compete is there night in, night out and then you'll have production. He didn't get a lot of ice time, but I was happy with his effort."

Trotz said Vrana's ice time was low because he the team was "hard matching" later in the game against Philadelphia. It was not because of how he played.

MORE CAPITALS: CHECK OUT THE 3 STARS OF THE GAME FOR CAPS-FLYERS

But ultimately, the key is to get Vrana producing again and the fourth line is not the best place to spark that. Vrana has only one point in his last 12 games which is why it seemed to make sense that he would be a healthy scratch on Sunday. For a player with his offensive skill, it is harder for him to make an impact on that back line given the limited minutes and the more defensive role. Ultimately he has to play in the top-nine in order to reach his potential on a game by game basis.

If Trotz wanted to spark more compete and more effort from Vrana, the move to the fourth line may have done the trick. But did he play well enough to warrant moving back into the top-nine? That's the ultimate question.