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Tarik's three stars: Braden Holtby shines in an otherwise ugly game


Tarik's three stars: Braden Holtby shines in an otherwise ugly game

It wasn’t pretty—at all—but the Capitals earned two points Sunday night at Capital One Arena, where the home team skated away with a 2-1 victory thanks to T.J. Oshie’s shootout goal, the lone tally in the skills competition.

The Caps have now won two in a row and five of their last six contests as they head onto the road for a two-game trip that’ll make stops in Nashville and Colorado.

RELATED: Niskanen timefame becoming more clear

Tarik’s three stars of the night

1-Braden Holtby, Capitals

Holtby’s work came infrequently against the Oilers—which can be a nightmare for a goalie. Busy. Nothing. Busy. Nothing. But in those moments when Holtby (29 saves) was busy, he was also really good. Late in the second period, Holtby made four consecutive right pad stops on Patrick Maroon, just moments after turning back Connor McDavid on a wraparound attempt. Maroon smashed his stick in frustration. Holtby, meanwhile, got a well-deserved standing ovation.

2-Dmitry Orlov, Capitals

Orlov’s first goal of the season—5:14 into the third period—knotted the score 1-1. The D-man fed the puck to Tom Wilson, who made a no-look return pass to Orlov in the slot. Orlov wasted little time sniping the puck over seldom-used Oilers backup Laurent Brossoit. Madison Bowey earned the secondary assist on the play, giving the Caps’ blue line 19 points in the last nine games.


3-John Carlson, Capitals

The Washington defenseman logged his third highest ice-time total of the season (29:17) and was a key factor in helping the Caps keep McDavid (three shots, no points) off the board. Brooks Orpik and Evgeny Kuznetsov's line also spent a ton of time matched up against the reigning NHL MVP. Carlson, though, saw the most. Overall, Carlson has led the Caps in time on ice 15 times in 17 games this season. He came into the contest leading the league in TOI per game at 27:13. 

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Kuznetsov to be evaluated Saturday after leaving Islanders game with "upper body" issue

Kuznetsov to be evaluated Saturday after leaving Islanders game with "upper body" issue

The Capitals may have won the game Friday against the New York Islanders, but now they will wait to see if they also suffered a significant loss.

Kuznetsov left the game in the third period after taking a slash from Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey which sent him sliding head-first into the boards. The team labeled the issue as “upper body” when it was announced he would not return to the game.

Head coach Barry Trotz was tight-lipped afterward on Kuznetsov’s status.

“They're going to re-evaluate him tomorrow and we'll have some clarity hopefully tomorrow,” he said.


You can see the play here:

When Kuznetsov is first slashed he immediately reacts. His feet then catch the stick of goalie Jaroslav Halak which sends him tripping and sliding hard into the boards. He sat on the ice for several minutes afterward and was looked at by the trainer before getting to his feet and slowly making his way to the locker room.

When asked after the game what he felt about the slash, Trotz said only, “Hockey play.”

One of the Capitals’ biggest strengths as a team is their depth down the middle. Any injury to a center, considering it is arguably the most important skating position on the ice, would be significant. An injury to the team’s top-line center would be even more costly.

Kuznetsov leads the team with 28 assists and ranks second in both goals (21) and points (69).

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3 stars of the game: Caps win brutal rematch to sweep home-and-home with Islanders

3 stars of the game: Caps win brutal rematch to sweep home-and-home with Islanders

The Caps rocked the green in warmups, the red for the game and left a bit black and blue after a brutal 6-3 win over the New York Islanders.

Based on how things went in Brooklyn on Thursday, odds were that there would be some bad blood when the two teams met Washington on Friday. One night after giving up seven goals, the Islanders gave up another six in Washington and frustrations over a rough season boiled over all game long.

Ross Johnston was ejected for continuing to fight Tom Wilson even after the referees intervened, both teams combined for 56 PIMs and Evgeny Kuznetsov left the game in the second period after a slash from Thomas Hickey as he went headfirst into the boards.

The sting of the rough night was mitigated somewhat, however, by the 6-3 score as the Caps won their fourth straight.

Here are the three stars of the game.

1. Alex Chiasson: Playing in his first game since March 8, Chiasson made the most of his opportunity with a three-point night. Jakub Vrana did the legwork as he drove the net with the puck. Jaroslav Halak stuck out his stick catching Vrana which spun the netminder around and out of the crease. Chiasson came up behind for the easy layup.

He would repay the favor with an assist for Vrana's goal later in the third. Chiasson's first assist on the night came in the second period as his initial shot was saved, but he stayed in the face of Halak long enough to prevent him from making the save on Matt Niskanen's goal.

2. Nicklas Backstrom: When things were getting ugly, Backstrom made the Islanders pay with a power play goal on the two-man advantage.

After Johnston lost his marbles and Cal Clutterbuck was called for interference on Oshie, the Capitals needed to take advantage and put the Islanders away or watch New York build momentum. That was the critical juncture of the game. Backstrom also added an assist on the two-point night.

3. Braden Holtby: The recent struggles of Holtby have been well documented. After yielding the crease to Philipp Grubauer the last four games, Holtby got the start on Friday and played very well in the winning effort. The defense in front of him certainly helped allowing only 13 shots in the first two periods, but the Islanders were buzzing in the third period. New York battled back to make it 5-3 and Mathew Barzal had a breakaway opportunity with a chance to cut the deficit to one. Holtby made the save to deny Barzal and shut the door on the comeback attempt.

In all, Holtby turned aside 22 of the 25 shots he faced.