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798 games later, a first for Orpik in Capitals' win over Devils

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798 games later, a first for Orpik in Capitals' win over Devils

Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik cracked a smile tonight. Actually, it was a full-out grin. That’s what happens when a team’s most stoic player scores his first game-winning goal in his 798th regular season game.

“I don’t think he scores too many goals,” Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin said after watching Orpik give the Capitals a 4-3 win over the Devils with a goal with 3:58 remaining in the third period.

“When he scores a big goal everybody happy. The locker room was happy, the bench was happy. It was pretty amazing.”

The Capitals have been pretty amazing all season and on Saturday night they rallied from a 3-2 third period deficit to pull out their eighth win in nine games. At 43-10-4 and 90 points they’ve gotten to 43 wins faster than any team in NHL history.

“It definitely gives you confidence, knowing you can come back against the best defensive team in the league,” Orpik said. “They don’t give you much.”

MORE CAPITALS: INSTANT ANALYSIS OF WASHINGTON'S WIN OVER NEW JERSEY

Desperate for points as they try to climb back into the playoff picture, the Devils grabbed a 3-2 lead on goals by Travis Zajac, Kyle Palmieri and Reid Boucher, but saw the Caps rally back with third-period goals from T.J. Oshie with 6:05 remaining and Orpik just over 2 minutes later.

Orpik, who entered the game with 14 career goals on 561 career shots (0.2 percent shooting percentage) saw an opportunity to jump into the left circle and hammered a pass from Evgeny Kuznetsov (1 goal, 1 assist) off Cory Schneider and into the net.   

“There was so much traffic in front, I was just trying to put it on net,” Orpik said. “I figured Schneider couldn’t see it either, because I couldn’t see much of the net. When I saw Osh and Ovi celebrating I knew it was in.”

(For the record, Orpik scored a game-winning goal for the Penguins in a playoff win over the New York Islanders in 2013).

The Capitals on the ice were not the only ones happy to see the 35-year-old blue liner score.

 “If we could have gone out to the blue line to hug Brooks and not get a penalty for it we would have,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “They all respect how hard he works.

“He’s one of the glue guys in our room. I think every young player on our team looks up to him, not only as a professional but as a person. I couldn’t be happier for Brooks. He was outstanding. He was heavy. He got a couple big hits on a couple of their top players. I think he was plus-4 tonight.”

He was, along with defense partner Dmitry Orlov, who picked up two more assists in the win.

The Capitals will now enjoy a day off on Sunday before taking on the Arizona Coyotes Monday night at Verizon Center.

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Tarik's 3 stars: Caps come up empty on an emotional night in Florida

Tarik's 3 stars: Caps come up empty on an emotional night in Florida

Vincent Trocheck scored on the power play with 18.7 seconds remaining and the Panthers escaped with a 3-2 victory on an emotional night in Sunrise, Fla.

Trocheck’s goal was Florida’s second in the final four minutes…and the Caps were left to lament yet another incomplete performance. Washington has now lost three of its last four games and fell to 4-5-2 in February.

Tarik’s three stars of the game:

1-Vincent Trocheck, Panthers

Trocheck did what Trocheck does in the third period: The Florida forward scored a clutch goal in the final seconds, redirecting a Jonathan Huberdeau shot through Brooks Orpik’s legs and past Braden Holtby.

Eller was in the penalty box when Trocheck scored his 13th third period goal of the season.

2-Andre Burakovsky, Capitals

After losing a goal to Eller in the first period, Burakovsky made sure he didn’t go home empty-handed. No. 65 scored on the power play in the second period to put the Caps ahead 2-1.

It was Burakovsky’s third goal in six games. He also earned a secondary assist on Eller’s redirection score.   

3-Braden Holtby, Capitals

Following a handful of un-Holtby-like performances lately, Holtbeast roared Thursday night at BB&T Center. He made at least one game-saving stop in each period: an arm save on Trocheck in the first period; a pad stop on Denis Malgin in the second and another extended pad stop on Evgenii Dadonov in the third. Holtby finished with 30 stops.

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

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4 reasons why the Panthers beat the Caps

4 reasons why the Panthers beat the Caps

The Caps looked like they had the win in hand as they led 2-1 late in the third period, but things went off the rails in the final four minutes in a 3-2 loss to the Florida Panthers

Here's how the Caps lost.

An emotional start for Robert Luongo

Before the game, Roberto Luongo took the mic during an emotional tribute to the victims of the tragic Stoneman Douglas school shooting. As a writer, it was hard to get into the game after that. I cannot imagine how hard it must have been for Luongo to focus to actually play in the game. But he did. He started off very well, making several strong saves in the first period. Washington scored late in the opening period after an offensive cycle of over a minute that completely wore out the Panthers' skaters. Otherwise, Luongo was brilliant turning aside 13 of the 14 shots he faced in the opening 20 minutes.

Another shaky start for Braden Holtby

This was the best game we have seen from Braden Holtby in a while as he made a number of phenomenal saves in the second and third period. In the first, however, he continued to struggle. Maxim Mamin scored his first career NHL goal and point as a puck trickled through Holtby and Mamin was able to slam it home. Holtby was dealing with a screen, but reacted late to the initial shot and late to Mamin.

Aleksander Barkov splitting Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson

With a 2-1 lead late in the third, the Caps looked like they had control. But with less than four minutes remaining, Aleksander Barkov was able to split Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson to set up Nick Bjugstad for the game-tying goal. Ovechkin was backchecking, Carlson stepped up on him and then...nothing. It looked as if both players thought the other would take Barkov and Ovechkin let up at the same time Carlson skated past giving Barkov a lane to the net.

A late penalty to Lars Eller

With the game tied late, the Caps were exerting their will in the offensive zone with the cycle that had been dominant all game long...and then Lars Eller tried to set a pick on Bjugstad, knocking him to the ice. It was an obvious interference call with just 42 seconds remaining in the game. Florida would score 22 seconds later to deny Washington not only the win, but a point as well.