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AAA keys to the game: Capitals vs. Oilers

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AAA keys to the game: Capitals vs. Oilers

With the Capitals (13-5-1, 27 points) and Edmonton Oilers (7-12-11, 15 points) set to battle tonight at Verizon Center (6:30 p.m. pregame CSN), here are our AAA Keys to the Game:

When we last met: This will be the second and final meeting between the two teams. The Caps enjoyed a 7-4 victory over the Oilers at Rexall Place on Oct. 23. Evgeny Kuznetsov put up a career-high five points in that game, including his first career hat trick.

Caps center Nicklas Backstrom, who is celebrating his 28th birthday today, said the Oilers are a quick team.

"They're always dangerous, wherever they are,” he said. “They can score from everywhere. They go to the net and crash the net. We really better be good defensively and I think it's important too that we have a good start and we play the same way and have the same start as last game."

The Caps scored four first-period goals in Saturday night’s 7-3 win over Colorado.  

RELATED Ted Leonsis focused on bringing a championship to D.C.

Who’s in goal: The Caps will turn to Braden Holtby (11-4-0, 2.01 GAA, .920 SP) for the 16th time in 20 games this season while the Oilers will go with Anders Nilsson (4-1-1, 3.04, .901) for the seventh time in nine games.

No puck luck: T.J. Oshie has an assist in each of his last two games but has just one goal in his last 10. He’s currently on pace to set a career-high with 22 goals, but feels like he should have more.

“I’m getting a lot of chances and when you get that many they’re going to go in,” Oshie said. “I just need to keep shooting the puck. There were a couple on the power play last game that I dished off and I should have shot. If I keep shooting they’re going to go in eventually. I’m getting some bad puck luck.”

Special teams: The Caps are ranked seventh in the NHL on the power play and seventh on the penalty kill. The Oilers rank 14th on the power play and 22nd on the kill.

No McDavid: Caps fans will miss their first opportunity to see Oilers phenom Connor McDavid, who played junior hockey with Andre Burakovsky but will miss his eighth straight game with a broken clavicle. The Caps will be without defenseman Brooks Orpik (lower body) for the sixth straight game.

Straight shooters: The Oilers’ Taylor Hall ranks fourth in the NHL with 85 shots on goal this season, including 25 in his last five games. Alex Ovechkin leads all shooters with 96 and is on pace to finish with more than 400 shots for the first time since recording a career-high 528 in 2008-09.

Little Mess: Leon Draisaitl’s 17 points in 10 games are the most by an Oilers player in his first 10 games of a season since Mark Messier in 1989-90.

Remember me?: Former Capitals tough guy and fan favorite Matt Hendricks is expected to be in the lineup tonight. In 10 games with the Oilers he has one goal, one assist and 10 penalty minutes. Hendricks spent three seasons with the Caps from 2010-13.  

Passing Langway: John Carlson’s next point will move him past Rod Langway and into eighth place on the Caps’ all-time scoring list among defensemen.

Hot to Trotz: Barry Trotz is three games away from 1,300 in the NHL and three wins away from passing Jacques Lemaire (617) for 11th place on the NHL all-time coaching wins list.

How about a hat trick?: Justin Williams is three points shy of 600 in the NHL.

CAPITALS

Forward lines

Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie

Marcus Johansson - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Justin Williams

Jason Chimera - Jay Beagle - Stanislav Galiev

Brooks LaichMichael Latta - Tom Wilson

Defense pairs

Nate Schmidt - John Carlson

Matt Niskanen - Karl Alzner

Dmitry Orlov - Taylor Chorney

Goaltenders

Braden Holtby (starter) - Philipp Grubauer

Injured: Brooks Orpik (lower body)

Scratches: Andre Burakovsky

OILERS

Forward lines

Taylor Hall - Leon Draisaitl - Teddy Purcell

Benoit Pouliot - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle

Matt Hendricks - Mark Letestu - Nail Yakupov

Anton Lander - Lauri Korpikoski - Iiro Pakarinen

Defense pairs

Oscar Klefbom - Mark Fayne

Darnell Nurse - Eric Gryba

Andrej Sekera - Brandon Davidson

Goaltenders

Anders Nilsson (starter) - Cam Talbot

Injured: Connor McDavid (broken clavicle), Justin Schultz (back), Rob Klinkhammer (undisclosed), Luke Gazdic(undisclosed)

Scratches: Griffin ReinhartAndrew Ference

 

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Being an Olympic hero is not all T.J. Oshie has in common with 2018 U.S. Women's hockey team

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Being an Olympic hero is not all T.J. Oshie has in common with 2018 U.S. Women's hockey team

Four years ago, Capitals forward T.J. Oshie was the shootout king in the 2014 Sochi Olympics. This time around Gigi Marvin was one of the Americans who provided the extra-time heroics for Team USA at Pyeongchang, carrying the women’s hockey team to the gold medal.

Ironically enough, they both were the King and Queen of their high school’s dance back in 2005.

Marvin and Oshie both went to Warroad High School in Minnesota. They graduated from the same class in 2005. Nearly every high school in the country would wish for just one Olympian, this one got two legends in one class.

Oshie famously took the puck six times for Team USA in a shootout to beat Russia back in 2014. Marvin scored the first tally of the shootout in the gold medal game against Canada. The United States would go on to win the match in seven rounds.

Oshie would go on to congratulate his fellow Warroad alum after the match.

Whoever cast the deciding votes, must have known that these two destined for glory. One could now call them the King and Queen of Olympic shootouts.

RELATED: USA WOMEN WIN GOLD OVER RIVAL CANADA

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Caps prospect watch: Boyd dedicates 4-goal performance to daughter after week in the hospital

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Caps prospect watch: Boyd dedicates 4-goal performance to daughter after week in the hospital

It would have been understandable if Travis Boyd struggled this past week. Something more important was on his mind.

Boyd spent the week in the hospital with his daughter, Hayden, who had been experiencing pain in her throat. He spent the enitre week in the hospital, not leaving until Hershey's game against Laval.

Boyd turned this trial into something incredible as he scored four goals Friday in Hershey's 6-3 win.

Boyd spoke about the ordeal with Zach Fisch of the Bears Radio Network (transcription via RMNB).

“It actually started after the game last Sunday against Rochester," he said. "I went straight from the rink to Urgent Care and then from Urgent Care to the ER. Never left the hospital until Friday morning. We had a successful surgery on Thursday night. Basically just a bad infection in her throat that had to be surgically removed. They had to surgically go in and kind of remove the bacteria and drain out the fluids. Everything went well. She’s doing well.”

Following the game, Boyd dedicated his performance to Hayden.

A four-goal game at the AHL level would have been an incredible accomplishment on its own. The fact that it came during such a trying time for him makes this a truly inspirational story.

You can watch highlights of the game including all four of Boyd's goals here:

CHECK OUT THIS WEEK’S UPDATED CAPS’ PROSPECT RANKINGS HERE

Other prospect notes:

  • In the Bears' game Friday against Laval, Riley Barber dropped the gloves with Markus Eisenchmid.  Barber was given an extra minor and game misconduct for instigating the fight in the final five minutes of the game. That penalty carries with it an automatic one-game suspension which Barber served Saturday. Here's a look at the fight.

  • Liam O'Brien had a pair of two-goal games over the week, scoring twice against Laval Friday and then two more against Toronto on Monday. Of his four goals, three of them were empty netters.
  • As the Capitals prepare for their Stadium Series game in Annapolis on March 3, Annapolis mayor Gavin Buckley—a native of Perth, Australia—made a plea to see Nathan Walker recalled for the game.  “I’ll have to put a quick shout out to the one Australian that’s playing for the Caps now, Nathan Walker. If you could just bring him up for this game, that’d be great. Because an Australian being in a hockey game is like a Jamaican bobsled team. It doesn’t happen very often.”

  • Brian Pinho was honored Friday in Providence College's Senior Night. He has served as captain of the team this season and as an assistant captain in his junior year. He spoke with The Cowl on what being a leader on the team means to him. "I think being a leader of this team is a great honor, but also a huge responsibility. I try to keep everything fun at the rink, while also bringing some intensity and competing hard every day.” You can read the full story here.
  • Goalie Adam Carlson, who was on loan to the Indy Fuel of the ECHL, was reassigned to the Kansas City Mavericks also of the ECHL. He started two games for his new team and turned aside 42 of the 48 total shots he faced.

Who are the Caps' top 10 prospects? Find out here in his week's updated rankings.