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Canucks on Caps: Good teams wear you down


Canucks on Caps: Good teams wear you down

News, notes and quotes from the Caps’ 4-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks Thursday night:

On a roll: The Caps have won 14 of their last 16 games (14-1-1) and are the only team in the NHL to have gone the entire season without back-to-back losses in regulation.  They have a 16-point cushion on the second-place New York Islanders in the Metro Division.

“We didn’t know we won 14 of 16,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “I don’t think we look at (our record) and say we’re doing great and pat ourselves on the back. The most important thing right now is the Buffalo Sabres, and I like that trait.”

Did he say, ‘Cup?’: After Thursday night’s win Caps defenseman Karl Alzner complimented general manager Brian MacLellan for bringing in players like Justin Williams, T.J. Oshie and Taylor Chorney in the offseason.  

“We’ve come a long ways,” Alzner said. “It’s so hard for the guys up top to make the right choices and bring the right people in and they’ve made great choices. I’m hoping they’ve found the right pieces to win the Cup. I’m hoping we have a good enough team. We’re playing pretty good hockey right now.”

And from the other side: Canucks coach Willie Desjardins said he was impressed with the overall play of the Capitals, saying they’re a team that allows very little defensively. The Caps have allowed the fewest goals against and have the greatest goal differential (plus-52) in the NHL. 

“They are a good team,” Desjardins said. “They’re deep all the way through. They’re a tough team. They’re a good team to gauge yourself against. Good teams wear you down where you make mistakes and they did that. They put pressure on you until you make a mistake.”

Angry Canucks: The Canucks were very unhappy with the play that led to Alzner’s second-period goal. Caps defenseman Matt Niskanen dumped forward Sven Baertschi along the offensive right wing boards and was immediately confronted by Bo Horvat.

“I’m not sure who it was who came in and just punched him and kind of slew-footed him,” Horvat said of Niskanen’s hit on Baertschi. “I think it should’ve been a call, but that’s just the way it goes. … Everybody stopped because they thought it was gonna be a penalty.”

Everybody but Andre Burakovsky, who fired a pass to Alzner for Alzner’s third goal of the season.

“I was distracted, too,” Alzner admitted. “I didn’t know the play was happening. I had way more time because I think people were more focused on that and expected a whistle or something.”

By the numbers: Marcus Johansson won 8 of 11 faceoffs (72.7 percent), his best night on draws since taking over for Jay Beagle on New Year's eve. ... The Capitals improved to 25-1-0  when scoring first and 24-0-1 when leading after two periods. They have won 11 consecutive games at Verizon Center, tying the longest home winning streak in the NHL this season (Calgary: 11). It's the longest home win streak since since they won a franchise-record 13 consecutive games during the 2009-10 season.The Caps have outscored opponents 45-19 in their last 11 home games and are 17-3-1 at home this season.

MORE CAPITALS: Redskins LBs Foster, Compton get Ovi's autograph at Caps game

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NHL Power Rankings: The home stretch

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NHL Power Rankings: The home stretch

We are down to the home stretch. Only 10 games remain in the Capitals' regular season. Those 10 games will ultimately decide if the Caps finish in first place in the Metropolitan Division and who they will play in the first round of the playoffs.

Washington currently sits in first place in the division, two points ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins and four points ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers. Of those 10 remaining games, only three come against teams currently in playoff position. The most critical of these comes on April 1 when the Caps travel to Pittsburgh in a game that could ultimately decide the division.

The Caps still hold a narrow lead in the standings, but where do they stand in the rankings? See this week's updated NHL Power Rankings here.

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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.