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Capitals beat Coyotes on the way to franchise record for home wins

Capitals beat Coyotes on the way to franchise record for home wins

Final score: Washington Capitals 4, Arizona Coyotes 1

How it happened: Alex Ovechkin scored a power play tally in the first period and it looked like the Caps would breeze through Arizona. The Coyotes had other ideas. Mike Smith kept things close through two periods and Peter Holland tied the game at 1 in the third period. Then the Caps responded with two quick goals from Daniel Winnik and Justin Williams to take back control. Winnik added the exclamation-point empty netter for the win.

What it means: The win is Washington’s 31st at home for the season which sets a new franchise record. The Caps have now won four straight games and hold a three-point lead over Columbus and Pittsburgh for first place in the Metropolitan Division.

Goals

Caps goal: Alex Ovechkin (power play) from Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson at 8:31 in the first period.  With T.J. Oshie, Johansson and Backstrom passing the puck on the far wall, they drew all four penalty killers to their side of the ice leaving Ovechkin wide open from the office. Backstrom fed him with the pass and Ovechkin wristed it home. Caps 1, Coyotes 0

Coyotes goal: Peter Holland from Anthony Duclair at 12:29 in the 3rd period. Duclair showed his jets by pouncing on a loose puck in the neutral zone and leaving everyone in his dust. Holtby made the initial breakaway save, but the trailing Holland was able to score on the rebound. Caps 1, Coyotes 1

Caps goal: Daniel Winnik from Kevin Shattenkirk and Dmitry Orlov at 15:21 in the 3rd period. Orlov started the rush out of the defensive zone and found Winnik streaking down the right side with the pass. Winnik did the rest, taking the puck on net and wristing one past Smith. Caps 2, Coyotes 1

Caps goal: Justin Williams from Kevin Shattenkirk at 15:53 in the 3rd period. Williams fired an innocent-looking shot from the right faceoff circle that somehow beat Smith top shelf. Caps 3, Coyotes 1

Caps goal: Daniel Winnik (empty net) from Jay Beagle and Brooks Orpik at 18:21 in the 3rd period. Caps 4, Coyotes 1

3 stars

1. Mike Smith: While the Coyotes were getting buried in shots, they weren’t getting buried in the scoreboard because of the phenomenal effort of Smith in net. He stopped 26 shots in the first two periods including a 2-on-0 opportunity for Washington in the second period to keep Arizona in the game.

2. Daniel Winnik: Winnik to the rescue! Just when the Coyotes tied the game, Winnik responded less than four minutes later to give the Caps back the lead. He then added the empty-netter with a great effort play to beat defenseman Jamie McGinn who was all over him.

3. Alex Ovechkin: If you give Ovechkin that much room on the power play, he's going to make you pay and he did with his 30th goal of the season. Ovechkin is now one of just three players to score 30 or more goals in his first 12 seasons.

Look ahead: The Capitals hit the road for a five-game road trip starting on Tuesday in Minnesota. The trip will also bring them to Colorado, Arizona, Columbus and Toronto.

Tell us what you think: The Caps could not take control of this game until Arizona tied the game at one in the third period. On Thursday, they responded only after Columbus took the 1-0 lead in the third. What is your takeaway from the Caps' clutch play in the third period of late?

MORE CAPITALS: Ovechkin hits 30-goal mark for 12th straight season

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Capitals Extra Podcast: Trade deadline story time with Alan May

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NBC Sports Washington

Capitals Extra Podcast: Trade deadline story time with Alan May

Alan May knows a thing or two about the trade deadline.

Over the course of his NHL career, May was traded five total times, four at the trade deadline. He sits down with Rob Carlin on a special edition of the Capitals Extra Podcast to tell stories from his playing days about what it was like getting traded.

This one's a can't miss for hockey fans. You can listen to the episode here on the Capitals Extra page or with the player below.

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NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?

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USA TODAY Sports

NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?

The Hart Trophy is given to the player judged to be the most valuable to their team. With the Caps currently struggling in almost every aspect of the game, consider this: Just where would they be without Alex Ovechkin?

Washington ranks 10th in the NHL in goals per game with 3.05. Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals with 36. He has scored an incredible 19-percent of his team's goals. No one on the Caps is within 20 goals of the Caps' captain.

That's not a typo. Evgeny Kuznetsov ranks second on the team with 16 goals. No other team in the league has a larger separation between its top two scorers. In fact, only three teams have a difference that's in the double digits: Vancouver (11), San Jose (10) and New Jersey (10).

Ovechkin is almost singlehandedly propping up Washington as a top-ten offense. If you think about just where this offense would be without him, there's a pretty strong case to be made that Ovechkin is as valuable to his team this season as any other player in the league.

SEE THIS WEEK'S 2018 NHL AWARDS TRACKER HERE

Here are the Caps' hopefuls for awards this season:

John Carlson

In contention for: Norris

Carlson is fifth among all defensemen with 45 points, but his case goes beyond the numbers. With a blue line that has featured two rookies the majority of the season, an aging veteran in Brooks Orpik and that had to deal with an injury to Matt Niskanen, the Caps have asked a lot of Carlson this season and he has always been up to the task.

Alex Ovechkin

In contention for: Hart

Few players, if any, are as important to their team's offensive production and therefore its success than Ovechkin has been this season.

Check out who the top candidates are for the league's major individual awards in this week's 2018 NHL Awards Tracker!