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Tarik's Three Stars: Ovechkin making moves as Caps clip Columbus, 4-3

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Tarik's Three Stars: Ovechkin making moves as Caps clip Columbus, 4-3

The Metro-leading Blue Jackets came into D.C. red hot, having won eight of their previous nine games. And their ace netminder, Sergei Bobrovsky, was back between the pipes after getting a couple of games off.

Didn’t matter.

As the Caps have shown on occasion this season, they’re capable of beating anyone on any given night. And they did it again, thanks to Braden Holtby and Alex Ovechkin, both of whom played a huge role in lifting the Caps to a 4-3 victory over Columbus at Capital One Arena.

Tarik’s three stars of the night:

1-Alex Ovechkin, Capitals

The Caps had blown a 2-0 lead and, judging from the way things were going after surrendering a shorty, they seemed to be in jeopardy of blowing the game, too. Then Ovechkin decided to do something about it. With Boone Jenner back in the box, the Caps’ captain set up in the circle and fired a laser beam of a shot past Bobrovsky to restore the Caps’ lead, 3-2, in the waning seconds of the middle frame.

The goal was Ovi’s 218th with the man advantage and it pushed him past Mike Gartner and Jaromir Jagr for 10th place on the all-time power play goal list. It also moved him into a tie with Mark Recchi for 20thplace (577) on the all-time goals list.

2-Braden Holtby, Capitals

Although the Caps opened a 2-0 first period lead on goals by Brett Connolly and Alex Chiasson, Holtby was the best player on the ice in the opening 20 minutes. And the home team needed him to be just that. He stopped all eight shots he faced in the first, including a sprawling stop on Josh Anderson early. Holtby also made a timely stop on a Nick Foligno breakaway early in the second period and a point blank save on Cam Atkinson as the Caps protected a 4-2 edge late.

3- John Carlson, Capitals

No. 74 entered the night tied for eighth among all defensemen with 18 points. Make that 20 points. Carlson was credited with primary assists on the Caps’ third and fourth goals. On the second assist, Carlson corralled a puck in the slot and made a slick pass to Evgeny Kuznetsov, who buried his third goal in two games to put Washington ahead 4-2.

Overall, Carlson now has 13 points (2 goals, 11 assists) in the last 15 games.

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

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NHL Power Rankings: The Caps are overcoming all obstacles, even the loss of Oshie

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USA TODAY Sports

NHL Power Rankings: The Caps are overcoming all obstacles, even the loss of Oshie

If you were to make a list of the players the Capitals could not afford to lose, chances are T.J. Oshie would be near the top of that list. Unfortunately, the Caps’ winger has missed the last six games due to an upper-body injury he suffered from a hit to the head by Joe Thornton.

Yet, even with Oshie out of the lineup the past six games, Washington has managed a 5-1-0 record.

SEE THIS WEEK’S NHL POWER RANKINGS HERE

Oshie is the undisputed energy leader of the Caps. He was considered so important, in fact, that a team with significant salary cap constraints still elected to re-sign him in the offseason to an eight-year, $46 million deal that carries a $5.75 million cap hit.

Oshie’s injury, however, has not cooled off the red-hot Caps who have now won 11 of their last 14 games. It is still clear the team is missing him—their 3-1 loss to the New York Islanders in which the Caps lacked any energy at all is evidence of that—but the way the team has been able to rally without him is impressive.

If Washington can win five out of six without Oshie, how much better will they be once he gets back into the lineup?

The Caps keep winning and that means they keep climbing in the NHL Power Rankings. See how high they climb in this week’s rankings here.

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Was Evgeny Kuznetsov even trying to shoot on his game-tying goal?

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Was Evgeny Kuznetsov even trying to shoot on his game-tying goal?

What is the one knock on Evgeny Kuznetsov’s game?

You know what it is. Everybody say it with me now: He needs to shoot the puck more.

It’s no secret what fans want the talented Russian forward to do.

They yell it from the stands of Capital One Arena or when they watching the TV braodcast at home.

Heck, Barry Trotz has talked about it to the media before.

That’s what made Saturday’s win over the Anaheim Ducks so refreshing.

With Washington down 2-1 in the third, Jakub Vrana found Kuznetsov in the slot and he buried it into the net behind Ducks goalie John Gibson. He even had Tom Wilson on the back door to pass to, but he chose instead to shoot the puck. That shows that he…wait, what’s that?

“I think Kuzy was, on his goal, I think he was trying to make one more pass,” Trotz said after the game.

No way. This is just the head coach being tongue-in-cheek, right?

Watch the replay and see for yourself:

RELATED: 5 REASONS THE CAPS BEAT THE DUCKS

Oh. Yeah, that was definitely a pass.

Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano reaches in to try and get his stick in the way of the shot and the puck deflects off his stick and into the net. If you watch, however, the puck was never intended to go on net. Instead, Kuznetsov was trying to get it to Wilson on the back door.

CAPS EXTRA PODCAST: GAME 34 VS. DUCKS

At this moment, Kuznetsov still has the puck on his stick, but the blade of the stick is not facing the goal. It is facing Wilson.

The fact that he has not yet released the puck at this point means he’s not aiming for the goal.

While aiming at Wilson, Cogliano’s stick gets in the way and deflects it on net.

Could Kuznetsov have gotten that puck to Wilson? Defenseman Kevin Bieksa is in the passing lane, but if anyone could thread that needle, it’s Kuznetsov. The point , however, is that passing here is the wrong decision.

Kuznetsov has the opportunity to shoot from a high-danger area. Wilson would have had a layup if Kuznetsov had gotten him the puck, but trying to pass through Bieksa is a much more difficult play. If you already have the puck in a high-danger area with an opportunity to shoot, you need to take that opportunity.

The bad news is Kuznetsov was trying to pass up a scoring chance for a more difficult play to set up a teammate. The good news is that it didn't matter. Cogliano’s effort to try to defend the shot ended up putting the puck into the back of the net thus saving Kuznetsov from making the wrong decision.

Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, but there’s still a lesson here for Kuznetsov on why shooting the puck is the better option.