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Braden Holtby outshines Carey Price in brilliant win over Canadiens

Braden Holtby outshines Carey Price in brilliant win over Canadiens

Braden Holtby was brilliant again for the Caps, allowing only one goal in a 4-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Monday.

How it happened: Alex Ovechkin faked a slap shot from the point  then fired a wrister on net. Carey Price made the save, but Nicklas Backstrom was right in front to hit in the rebound to give the Caps the 1-0 lead. That lead would stand until the 7:18 point in the third period when Tomas Plekanec took advantage of a scrum in front of Braden Holtby to tie the game at one. Evgeny Kuznetsov, however, responded less than one minute later. Kuznetsov forced a turnover in center ice from Max Pacioretty then deked defenseman Jeff Petry out of his skates before finishing the play with a shot over the blocker for the goal. Kuznetsov forced another turnover behind the net which he fed to Brett Connolly who wristed in the insurance tally. Ovechkin's power play goal later in the third salted away the win.

What it means: The win moves Washington into a three-way tie in the standings with the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers at 57 points for second-place in the Metropolitan Division. The Caps have won six in a row tying their longest win streak of the season. They are now 13-2-2 in their last 17 games. This was the team’s first win over Montreal this season after losing 2-1 at Verizon Center on Dec. 17. Washington is 17-4-4 in their last 20 games against Montreal and 8-3-0 this season against teams from Canada.

Turning point: Montreal was dominated for much of the game, but they pulled even in the third period thanks to Plekanec's goal. Kuznetsov's tally came less than a minute later to suck all the life out of Montreal and the Bell Centre. That's a great response by the Caps and by Kuznetsov who has struggled finding the back of the net for much of the season. 

Holy Holtby: Holtby allowed three goals in the first period against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday and was pulled from the game. He did not allow a goal until the third period of Monday's game for a career-long shutout streak of 169:12. He finished the game with 22 saves. For those curious, the record for most consecutive shutouts is five held by Brian Boucher in 2003-04.

Tough homecoming: Lars Eller no doubt wanted to have a good game in his return to Montreal. He did manage two shots on goal, but he also took the third period interference penalty that led to the Canadiens' only goal of the game.

One to go: Ovechkin had a three point night with one goal and two assists. The were career points Nos. 997, 998 and 999. He now sits just one away from 1,000 points, a feat that has only been accomplished by 83 players in NHL history.

Look ahead: The Caps return to Washington to face a gauntlet schedule as they host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday, the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday and the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday. They then hit the road for a three-game swing starting with a rematch with the Penguins on Monday.

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Can Tom Wilson be an X-factor for Caps after finding redemption in Game 3?

Can Tom Wilson be an X-factor for Caps after finding redemption in Game 3?

When Mike Babcock essentially dismissed any concern over the impact Tom Wilson could have on a series, Wilson responded. In the first round against the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2017, the Caps' forward scored the overtime winner in Game 1 and saved the series in Game 3 with a sweep of the puck off the goal line followed by a goal of his own soon after.

If you dismissed Wilson after Game 1 and Game 2 against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Barry Trotz believes you can expect a similar answer this year after how he played in Game 3.

"I think his game was really good and that will maybe give some trust and confidence in him going forward," Trotz said Wednesday on a conference call with the media.

Wilson's impact in the first round against Toronto was immediate. As a top-line winger this season, expectations for him were high heading into the playoffs. His start to the series, however, left a lot to be desired.

Through the first two games, Wilson did not record a single shot on goal. What's worse, he took a critical penalty in each game that allowed the Blue Jackets to tie the score on each resulting power play.

You can't compare Wilson's impact on the Caps to that of a player like Alex Ovechkin, but a top-line player has to have some sort of positive impact or, at the very least, not be a detriment to his team.

In Game 3, postseason Tom finally delivered.

Wilson recorded six shots on goal and scored Washington's first goal of the game, deflecting in a shot from Matt Niskanen.

"[Wilson's] taken a lot of criticism for his first two games and some of the penalties and the effect it's had on the game," Trotz said. "I think it's given him some confidence. He's a bright young man, he's a leader, he's an all-in guy."

The key now will be for Wilson to build on that confidence.

Columbus has a number of star players such as Artemi Panarin, Seth Jones and Sergei Bobrovsky. What they do not have, however, is the scoring depth to match the Caps. Getting key contributions from players like Wilson in addition to the top playmakers like Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov will make it very hard for the Blue Jackets to keep up.

"[Wilson] had a big effect last year in the first round," Trotz said. "I think he can have a big effect in this series, in this first round."

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Game 4 Capitals at Blue Jackets Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

Game 4 Capitals at Blue Jackets Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

With a thrilling double-overtime victory in Game 3, the Capitals are right back in the series. Trailing the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1, the Caps will look to even up the series at 2-games apiece before returning to Washington for Game 5.

As the Caps take the ice for Game 4, you can be certain that Braden Holtby will be the man to lead the team in net. His stellar performance in Game 3 resolidified him as the team' starter and ended whatever goalie tandem there was between him and Philipp Grubauer.

What: Washington Capitals vs. Columbus Blue Jackets, Round 1, Game 4

Where: Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio

When: 7:30 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 4 will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 4 on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

The Capitals take on the Blue Jackets in Game 4 on Thursday, April 19 at 7:30 p.m. ET in Columbus. Columbus currently leads the series 2-1.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME ON?

Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 4 will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:30 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 7:00 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:30 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:30 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:30 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
7:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:30 p.m. — Capitals at Blue Jackets
10:00 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:30 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

Capitals-Blue Jackets Game 4, 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.

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

Here are the Caps' projected lines:

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

Michal Kempny - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Christian Djoos

Braden Holtby with Philipp Grubauer as backup.

Scratches: Travis Boyd, Andre Burakovsky (upper-body), Shane Gerisch, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek

CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS OPEN THREAD

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.

SEE THE CAPITALS VS. BLUE JACKETS FULL SERIES SCHEDULE HERE

CAPITALS SCHEDULE