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AAA Keys to the Game: Capitals vs. Stars


AAA Keys to the Game: Capitals vs. Stars

The Capitals (40-9-4, 84 points) will try to end a perfect three-game road trip tonight when they take on the Dallas Stars (35-15-5, 75 points) at American Airlines Center (7:30 p.m. pregame, CSN). Here are our AAA Keys to the Game:

On a roll: The Caps have won five straight games, with four of them decided by one goal. They are now 17-2-4 in games decided by one goal. Their 40 wins (with 29 games to play) are two more than they had two seasons ago under Adam Oates.

But so are the Stars: Dallas has won five of its last six games and is coming off a big 4-2 win over the Blackhawks Thursday night in Chicago. Patrick Eaves netted a hat trick in the win.

Leaders of the pack: The Caps’ 40 wins in 53 games are the most in NHL history. Their 84 points through 53 games are the most since the 2008-09 Boston Bruins, who also had 84 points after 53 games. The Capitals have also earned a point in 31 of their last 35 games (28-4-3) and have outscored their opponents 122-79 during that span.

Coaching legends: Stars coach Lindy Ruff ranks sixth on the NHL’s all-time wins list with a 687-509-78-110 record. Caps coach Barry Trotz ranks 10th all-time at 642-514-60-115.

Milestone watch: Nicklas Backstrom is one goal away from passing Kelly Miller (162) for 12th on the Caps’ all-time list.

Three’s company: Alex Ovechkin’s hat trick on Thursday night against the Wild was the 125th in Capitals history and third this season, joining Evgeny Kuznetsov on Oct. 23 at Edmonton and Justin Williams on Jan. 17 at home against the Rangers. Ovechkin passed Mike Gartner (13) for second-most hat tricks in franchise history, behind Peter Bondra (19).

Where they stand: The Caps lead the NHL in goals per game (3.30) and power-play percentage (24.2), and rank tied for second in goals-against per game (2.26) and fifth in penalty kill percentage (83.8). The Stars rank second in the NHL in goals per game (3.24) and fifth in power-play percentage (22.1), while ranking 14th in goals-agfainst per game (2.67) and 21st on the penalty kill (80.0). The Stars have scored 180 goals, two more than the Caps for most in the league. They are also one point behind the Central Division-leading Blackhawks.

Last we met: The Stars handed the Caps a 3-2 loss on Nov. 19 on goals by Jason Spezza, Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin. Backstrom and Ovechkin had goals for the Caps and Philipp Grubauer was in goal.

Road warriors: The Caps are an NHL best 20-5-2 on the road this season and their 20 road wins are the most road victories through a team’s first 27 road games in NHL history. The Caps are also 10-2-2 against the Western Conference this season.

RELATED: It's OK to exhale, Kuznetsov passes concussion tests

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NHL Power Rankings: A rough week


NHL Power Rankings: A rough week

The Caps are coming off of one of, if not the worst week of their season. Washington has now lost three of four games and all three of those losses came in devastating fashion.

On Feb. 11, the Caps hosted a scuffling Detroit Red Wings team and saw the Wings build a 4-1 lead in the second period, a period in which the Caps were outshot 17-2. Washington battled back to tie the game, but ultimately lost in overtime. Tuesday in Winnipeg the Caps held a 3-1 lead in the third period, but allowed the Jets to mount a comeback and tie the game with just 15 seconds remaining in regulation before losing in overtime. Then, of course, there was Saturday's 7-1 blowout at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks, a team that had lost eight straight coming into that game.


To make matters worse, the Pittsburgh Penguins keep on winning and now hold a one-point lead over Washington. So yeah, things were not great.

The bad news is that, with the recent surges of Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and even New Jersey, the Caps have to figure things out fast or they could continue to fall in the standings fairly quickly.

The good news is that they still remain in a relatively good position should they rebound. The Penguins do hold a one-point lead in the standings, but the Caps remain very much in the driver's seat of the division with three games in hand.

Four games separate Washington from the Feb. 26 trade deadline. The Caps will play in Buffalo, host Tampa Bay, play in Florida and host Buffalo. Winning three of those four games, especially if they can beat the dominant Lightning, will go a long way towards putting last week in the rearview mirror. Another tough week, however, could force the hand of general manager Brian MacLellan to make an unanticipated move at the trade deadline in order to keep a playoff season from falling apart.

After a week like that, it's no surprise to see Washington fall in this week's NHL Power Rankings. You can see the full rankings here.

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Game 59: Capitals at Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread


Game 59: Capitals at Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Buffalo Sabres

Where: KeyBank Center, Buffalo, N.Y.

When: 3:00 p.m. ET

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

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

You can also stream the game online with no cable TV subscription on fuboTV (try for free!).


The Capitals (33-18-7) take on the Sabres (17-31-11) Monday, February 19 at 3:00 p.m. ET in Buffalo.


The Capitals-Sabres game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 2:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 2:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 6:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 7:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

2:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
2:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
3:00 p.m. — Capitals at Sabres
5:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
6:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
7:00 p.m. — Caps in 30


Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Sabres game:

Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Madison Bowey

Philipp Grubauer starts with Braden Holtby as backup

Scratches: Alex Chiasson, Taylor Chorney


The Capitals-Sabres 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.

The game is also available to stream, along with all the pregame and postgame shows, on fuboTV (try for free).


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.