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AAA Keys to the Game: Capitals vs. Islanders


AAA Keys to the Game: Capitals vs. Islanders

The Capitals (35-9-4, 74 points) will face the New York Islanders (26-16-6, 58 points) tonight (7:30, NBCSN) in their second of four meetings this season. Here are our AAA Keys to the Game:

Welcome back, Ovi: After a one-game slap on the wrist for missing the NHL All-Star festivities in Nashville, Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin will return to action for the Caps.

Ovechkin has not played since last Wednesday night and was full of energy in four straight days on the ice from Monday through Thursday. Ovechkin is tied for second in the NHL with 28 goals, two behind Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane, who has played in eight more games. In 38 career games against the Isles Ovechkin has 27 goals and 15 assists for 42 points.

In the last five games Ovechkin has missed the Capitals are 0-5 and have scored four goals.

Welcome back, Braden: Caps goalie Braden Holtby (30-5-3, 2.07 GAA, .929 SP) will make his first start since Wednesday and is expected to face former Caps teammate Jaroslav Halak (12-9-4, 2.14, .923).

Holtby has a career record of 8-1-2 against the Isles with a 2.11 GAA and .936 save percentage. Halak tortured the Caps and their fans in the first round of the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs when he was with the Montreal Canadiens, but in 11 regular season matchups against the Caps he’s 6-5-0 with a 2.70 GAA and .899 SP.

Hard hitters: The last time the Caps and Isles met on Jan. 7 in Brooklyn, Marcus Johansson got himself suspended two games for an open-ice hit on Thomas Hickey, who remained in the game and admitted afterwards he probably put himself in a vulnerable position by keeping his head down.

Caps right wing Tom Wilson, who became Public Enemy No. 1 on Long Island when he knocked defenseman Lubomir Visnovski out of the NHL with a big hit in last year’s playoff series against the Islanders, said the Isles would have been more upset if it was him who lowered the boom on Hickey.

“If I would have made the same hit I’m sure there’d be a lot of guys coming after me tonight,” Wilson said.

Fighting words: The Islanders lead all NHL teams with 1,493 hits, led by Matt Martin’s league-high 230 and Cal Clutterbuck’s 195. The Caps rank 18th in the NHL with 1,139 hits (down from ninth last season), led by Wilson’s 144. You can expect those numbers to go up after tonight.

“They don’t like us, we don’t like them,” Wilson said. “I’m not planning on changing that anytime soon. I think it would be a bad thing if we did.”

Chorney watch: Taylor Chorney (flu) is expected to take part in the pre-game warmup and will play if he feels well enough. If not, look for former Islanders defenseman Aaron Ness to take his place. If Chorney plays, Ness will be sent back to Hershey. If Chorney cannot play Ness will be considered an emergency callup and his time with the Caps will not count toward him becoming waiver eligible after 10 games or 30 days. (He’s currently at eight games).

Last we met: The Caps received goals from Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin, Jason Chimera and Nate Schmidt en route to a 4-1 win over the Islanders in their first visit to Brooklyn on Jan. 7. Backstrom also picked up an assist and was a plus-3 in that game.

Remember me?: Former Caps center Mikhail Grabovski is having a solid season with the Isles with eight goals, 15 assists and a plus-3 rating. But the player who gives Braden Holtby more fits than anyone is Islanders captain John Tavares, who shares the team lead with 36 points (17 goals, 19 assists) in 45 games. Kyle Okposo also has 36 points (12 goals, 24 assists) but is a minus-9.

Here are the projected lineups for tonight:


Forward lines

Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie  

Andre Burakovsky - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Justin Williams  

Jason Chimera - Mike Richards - Tom Wilson  

Brooks Laich - Zach Sill - Michael Latta  

Defense pairings

Matt Niskanen - Karl Alzner  

Nate Schmidt - John Carlson  

Dmitry Orlov- Taylor Chorney 


Braden Holtby (starter) - Philipp Grubauer  

Injured: Brooks Orpik (lower body), Jay Beagle (upper body), Marcus Johansson (upper body) 

Scratched: Stanislav Galiev, Aaron Ness 


Forward lines

Mikhail Grabovski - John Tavares - Ryan Strome  

Nikolay Kulemin - Frans Nielsen - Kyle Okposo  

Anders Lee - Brock Nelson - Josh Bailey  

Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck  

Defense pairings

Nick Leddy - Brian Strait  

Calvin de Haan - Travis Hamonic  

Thomas Hickey - Marek Zidlicky  


Jaroslav Halak (starter) - Jean-Francois Berube - Thomas Greiss  

Injured: Johnny Boychuk (upper body) 

Scratched: Steve Bernier, Scott Mayfield 

MORE CAPITALS: Holtby gearing up for heavy workload

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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. 

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Game 72 Capitals at Flyers Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

Game 72 Capitals at Flyers Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Philadelphia Flyers

Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pa.

When: 5:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Flyers will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Flyers game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.


The Capitals (41-23-7) take on the Flyers (36-25-11) Sunday, March 18 at 5:00 p.m. ET in Philadelphia.


The Capitals-Flyers game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

4:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
4:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
5:00 p.m. — Capitals at Flyers
7:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
8:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
9:00 p.m. — Caps in 30


The Capitals-Flyers game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.


Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.