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AAA Keys to the Game: Capitals vs. Senators


AAA Keys to the Game: Capitals vs. Senators

The Capitals (51-15-5, 107 points) take on the Ottawa Senators tonight at Canadian Tire Centre (7 p.m., Pregame Live, CSN). Here are our AAA Keys to the Game:

Closing time: The Capitals can clinch their first Metro Division title and the top seed in the Eastern Conference with a victory of any kind. The Caps won five Southeast Division titles in Alex Ovechkin’s first 10 seasons in Washington.

Line shuffle: After Sunday night’s rout in Pittsburgh, coach Barry Trotz shook up his lines on Tuesday, promoting right wing Justin Williams from the third line to a top line with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom and dropping Jay Beagle back to a third line with Marcus Johansson and Jason Chimera.

Who’s in goal: Braden Holtby (43-9-4, 2.26 GAA, .921 SP) will get the call for the Caps. Holtby is looking to rebound from a 6-2 loss in Pittsburgh on Sunday in which he allowed five goals on 19 shots. The Senators will turn to Craig Anderson (29-22-4, 2.80 GAA, .916 SP), who has won two of his last three starts, allowing just two goals in those two victories.

Last we met: The Caps rolled to a 7-1 win over the Sens back on Jan. 10 when six different Capitals netted goals and Alex Ovechkin scored twice. The Caps also beat Ottawa 2-1 on Dec. 16 in Washington on goals by Michael Latta and John Carlson. Andrew Hammond was the Sens goalie in both those games. This is the last meeting of the season between the two teams. The Caps are 4-0-1 in their last five against the Sens.

Speaking of Carlson: This could be the last time the Caps are without John Carlson in their lineup. The defenseman will miss his 12th straight game (and 25th overall) with a lower body injury. Carlson is hoping to practice with the Capitals on Wednesday and Thursday and could return to the lineup Friday night against the Devils in Newark.

Who’s hot: Andre Burakovsky has a goal in each of his last two games and 26 points in his last 30 games (12 goals, 14 assists). His 16 goals are seven more than he had as a rookie last season. Evgeny Kuznetsov has 36 points in his last 29 games (7 goals, 29 assists) and has at least one point in 14 of his last 18 games (5 goals, 14 assists). He has an assist in five straight games.

Trending: The Caps’ power play is 0-for-8 in its last three games. The Caps’ penalty kill has allowed a power play goal in four of their last five games.

Special teams: The Caps rank second in the NHL on the power play (23 percent) and tied for fourth in penalty killing (84.1). Ottawa ranks tied for 26th on the power play (16.3) and 29th on the kill (75.4)  

Projected lineups for tonight:  


Forward lines

Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Justin Williams

Andre Burakovsky - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie

Jason Chimera - Marcus Johansson - Jay Beagle

Daniel Winnik - Mike Richards - Tom Wilson

Defense pairs

Karl Alzner - Matt Niskanen

Dmitry Orlov - Brooks Orpik

Mike Weber - Taylor Chorney


Braden Holtby (starter) - Philipp Grubauer

Injured: John Carlson (lower body)

Scratches: Michael LattaStanislav Galiev


Line combinations

Zack Smith - Jean-Gabriel Pageau - Mark Stone

Mike Hoffman - Mika Zibanejad - Bobby Ryan

Matt Puempel - Scott Gomez - Alex Chiasson

Nick Paul - Curtis Lazar - Chris Neil

Defense pairs

Marc Methot - Erik Karlsson

Dion Phaneuf - Cody Ceci

Michael Kostka - Chris Wideman


Craig Anderson (starter) - Andrew Hammond

Injured: Mark Borowiecki (knee), Kyle Turris (ankle), Chris Phillips (back), Clarke MacArthur (concussion), Patrick Wiercioch (undisclosed)

Scratched: Ryan Dzingel (unless Neil cannot play because of illness)

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Tarik's 3 Stars: Wilson and Backstrom shine in Caps 3rd straight win

Tarik's 3 Stars: Wilson and Backstrom shine in Caps 3rd straight win

Tom Wilson scored twice, Nicklas Backstrom recorded four helpers and the assistant coaches chipped in with a big assist in Montreal, where the Caps earned a 6-4 victory over the Canadiens on Saturday night.

The win was Washington’s third in a row and seventh in eight games as they close in on another Metro Division title. Caps Coach Barry Trotz, meantime, claimed victory No. 200 in Washington; his next win will equal Bruce Boudreau for second all-time in franchise history.

Tarik’s three stars of the game:

1-Tom Wilson, Capitals

Wilson’s all-around game continues to blossom…and the Caps’ big winger continues to fill up the scoresheet. At Bell Centre, he scored back-to-back goals less than four minutes apart in the first period to put the Caps in command. Wilson also missed an empty net in the closing seconds by just a few inches. The soon-to-be 24-year-old now has 13 goals—six more than his previous career high.  

2-Nicklas Backstrom, Capitals

Backstrom notched four assists and, as usual, he did it quietly. And they weren’t cheapies—three of the four helpers were of the primary variety. Backstrom, who has four goals and 12 assists in his last 12 games, has now notched four or more points 20 times in his career. It was also his 11th-career four assist game.

3-Leonhardt and Ohashi, Capitals

That’s right, I’m giving the third star to assistant coaches Brett ‘Stretch’ Leonhardt and Tim Ohashi. They quickly spotted that the Habs were offside on their second goal. And, after a coach’s challenge, the refs agreed. Instead of 2-0, it remained 1-0 and the Caps took full advantage of their second chance, scoring the game’s next four goals.

Agree? Disagree? Tell us what you think in the comments.

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Game 75 Capitals at Canadiens Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

Game 75 Capitals at Canadiens Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Montreal Canadiens

Where: Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Canadiens will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington.

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


The Capitals (43-24-7) take on the Canadiens (27-36-12) Saturday, March 24 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Montreal.


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

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals at Canadiens
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime


You can watch the Capitals-Canadiens game on NBC Sports' live stream page.


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.