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Capitals upset at Flyers, refs after loss in Philly

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Capitals upset at Flyers, refs after loss in Philly

PHILADELPHIA - There were butt ends to midsections, gloved face washes and checks from behind. Capitals coach Barry Trotz often talks about being pulled into battle and in Wednesday night’s 2-1 shootout loss in South Philadelphia, the Caps had themselves a nice little street fight with the Flyers.

“As the game ramped up there was some cheap stuff going on,” Trotz said.

The cheapest among them, at least according to the Capitals, was Sean Couturier intentionally slamming into Caps goalie Braden Holtby 2:56 into overtime. Holtby, who’s had his share of crease collisions this season, reacted by wrestling Couturier to the ice.

Holtby was given a roughing minor; Couturier was called for goalie interference.

“I knew that wasn’t going to get called,” Holtby said of Couturier’s body contact. “It’s clear interference and they never call that, even when it should be. So I was just trying to stick up for myself.”

“It happens every game,” Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom said. “I think (opposing teams) talk about it because he’s a good goalie. That’s up to the refs to decide.”

RELATED: Capitals fall to Flyers 2-1 in shootout

Trotz went so far as to suggest that referees Ghislain Hebert and Brian Pochmara simply didn’t want to deal with the reaction of an angry Philadelphia crowd if they gave the Capitals a second power play in overtime.

“In that situation I would probably say the referee wasn’t going to call that,” Trotz said. “He wants to get out of Philadelphia.”

With the win the Flyers gained sole possession of the eighth and final playoff seed in the East. They are two points ahead of the Detroit Red Wings with a game in hand, and just two points behind the seventh seeded Islanders, who have a game in hand on the Flyers.

But if the Capitals hope to beat the Flyers in a potential playoff series, Holtby said they’ll need to play better than they did Wednesday night, when they were outhit and outshot by 34-30 margins.

“They came hard,” Holtby said. “They got under our skin a little bit and I thought we let the refs get under our skin, too. In intense affairs like that you have to be a mature group and not get upset with things and we can do a better job next time.

“I thought we played all right. I thought they were probably the better team tonight. We have to realize that and know we have a lot more to give than that, especially against a possible first-round opponent. We need to be better and we will be.”

Backstrom, who rang a shot off the left post in overtime, and Alex Ovechkin, who scored his 44th goal of the season early in the third period, agreed.

“I don’t think we answered their intensity,” Backstrom said. “I think we played at our own pace. I think we’ve got one more level to get to.”

“Not a lot of scoring, but I think we enjoyed the battle,” Ovechkin said. “The crowd was into it. Those are the kinds of game it’s going to be in the playoffs.”

Especially if the Caps happen to meet their divisional and geographical rivals to the north.

“The biggest difference between the two teams was probably the desperation level of Philadelphia,” Trotz said. “Ours probably wasn’t as high and it probably shouldn’t be, human nature and all that. But they battled hard and you can see why they’ve racked up a pretty good record.

“We’ll have to be really disciplined in the playoffs. It was good for us. Now we’re just trying to get to the finish line and be ready.”

MORE CAPITALS: Trotz has an 'honest' talk with struggling Orlov

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Game 60: Capitals vs. Lightning Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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USA TODAY Sports

Game 60: Capitals vs. Lightning Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

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

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Lightning 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!).

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME?

The Capitals (34-18-7) take on the Lightning (39-17-3) Tuesday, February 20 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Washington.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME ON?

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

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Lightning
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:00 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME?

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

Forwards
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

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

Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches: Alex Chiasson, Taylor Chorney

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME?

The Capitals-Lightning 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).

CAPITALS-LIGHTNING 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.

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3 reasons why the Caps beat the Sabres

3 reasons why the Caps beat the Sabres

You may think this was an ugly four-game road trip for the Caps, but with a 3-2 win in Buffalo on Monday, Washington managed to earn five out of a possible eight points.

Here is why the Caps beat the Sabres and managed to save the road swing.

A missed high-stick (maybe) from Ovechkin

Ovechkin scored the first goal of the game in the second period as he deflected a high-shot from Christian Djoos down past goalie Chad Johnson. But did the deflection come on a high stick? The play was reviewed and the goal was ultimately upheld. According to the NHL, it was determined that "video review supported the Referee's call on the ice that Alex Ovechkin's stick was at or below the height of the crossbar when he tipped the puck into the Buffalo net."

NBC Sports Washington analyst Alan May broke the play down during the second intermission and made his case for why the NHL actually got the call wrong.

Was that a high stick? I don't know. As compelling an argument as May made, it still looks inconclusive which means the review made the right call. What surprises me is that the referee did not disallow the goal on the initial call.

Whether the review is truly inconclusive or flat out wrong, Washington was fortunate to walk away from this sequence with the goal.

MORE CAPITALS: BIZARRE SEQUENCE LEADS TO CAPS SCORING AND GETTING PENALIZED AT THE SAME TIME

A centimeter of ice

Hockey is a game of inches and it took less than an inch to put Washington up 2-0. When an Evgeny Kuznetsov shot hit off the boards and bounced back to the front of the net, it sparked a scrum next to goalie Chad Johnson. Eventually, John Carlson was able to get a swipe on the puck sending it trickling to the goal line, but Kyle Okposo was there waiting and appeared to kick it out to safety just before it crossed. A review triggered by the Situation Room, however, revealed that the puck had just barely managed to cross the goal line before Okposo got to it.

Here's the view the NHL released after the review:

Philipp Grubauer's third period

After dominating the first 40 minutes of the game and taking a 2-0 lead, Buffalo predictably made a late push in the third period with two goals to pull within one. Washington outshot the Sabres in the first and second periods, but Buffalo reversed that trend in a big way in the third as they outshot the Caps 17-6. Grubauer turned aside 15 of those shots and was impressive after barely being tested in the first two periods.

RELATED: CHECK OUT THE 3 STARS OF THE GAME FROM CAPS-SABRE