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Caps' ability to transition proves key in win over Canucks

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Caps' ability to transition proves key in win over Canucks

In their win on Sunday at Madison Square Garden, the Caps were able to turn a big save from Braden Holtby on one end into a the game-winning goal on the other. Though it was not quite as dramatic, it was the Caps ability to transition that, according to Barry Trotz, changed the course of the game in Thursday's 4-1 win over Vancouver.

"The game changed on a short-handed chance," Trotz said.

With the game scoreless in the second period, the Caps were on the power play, but a takeaway by Vancouver's Derek Dorsett led to a scoring chance for Bo Horvat. Braden Holtby, however, challenged from the top of the crease to make the save and then held on for the whistle. Less than one minute later, the Caps were ahead.

Dmitry Orlov stole the puck away from Alex Edler in the defensive zone and immediately streaked up the right side of the ice. His aggressiveness on the transition led to a two-on-one with Evgeny Kuznetsov. Orlov was patient with the puck, waiting long enough to find Kuznetsov in front who finished off the sliding netminder Ryan Miller with the outside, inside move for the game's first goal.

"I like the fact that when Orly broke that up, you can see that everything clicked into offensive mode," Trotz said. "We've got some good pieces that can do that. I think our strength is when we have the puck, we want to attack. When we don't have the puck, we want to have a real good plan to get it back and we work at that because we want the puck back."

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It's the Caps ability to quickly transition between offense and defense, to quickly stifle and counter on opponent's opportunities that frustrated the Canucks.

"They don't give up a lot of chances," Henrik Sedin said.

"I think they're really patient in their game," Sven Baertschi said. "They wait until you make a mistake."

That's the type of frustration Trotz is hoping to see from opposing teams.

"You come up the ice, you try something, we kill it off in the neutral zone, put it back in, forecheck. It gets hard. That mountain looks really big when you get no momentum."

Having a goalie like Holtby certainly helps.

In the rare opportunities the Caps give up, teams have to be able to take advantage because they don't know when they'll get another chance and because they know those opportunities can just as easily turn into opportunities for the Caps on the other end.

So when Holtby blanked Horvat on Vancouver's best opportunity of the night, Trotz knew his team was in good shape.

"Holts made the save and then we come back and score within 20, 25, 30 seconds, whatever it was," Trotz said. "That to me changed the whole game.

"Once we got that goal, I thought we were in pretty good shape."

MORE CAPITALS: Tom Green unleashes the fury live at Verizon Center

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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!