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Caps extend remarkable home dominance to 10 straight wins

Caps extend remarkable home dominance to 10 straight wins

Final score: Capitals 5, Hurricanes 0

How it happened: Alex Ovechkin and Brett Connolly both scored on Washington's first five shots of the game, giving the Caps the 2-0 first-period lead. After a scoreless second, the game went off the rails for the Hurricanes in the third period as Lars Eller and Evgeny Kuznetsov scored 27 seconds apart to make it 4-0. Marcus Johansson added the knockout punch about eight minutes later.

What it means: Washington has now won four straight games and 10 straight at home, five of them shutouts. The Caps are undefeated at Verizon Center in 2017 and have scored at leats five goals in nine straight at home. In that stretch, the Caps have outscored their opponents 50-12. Washington finished its season series with the Hurricanes with a 3-1-0 record.


Capitals goal: Alex Ovechkin (power play) from Matt Niskanen and Nicklas Backstrom at 10:23 in the 1st. EDDIE Lack stopped Ovechkin’s first shot, but Backstrom fed the rebound back to the point for Niskanen who sent it back to Ovechkin. The shot was going wide, but hit off of Lack’s glove and into the net. Caps 1, Hurricanes 0

Capitals goal: Brett Connolly from Andre Burakovsky and John Carlson at 13:47 in the first. Connolly faked his initial shot which drew the defense out of position and bought him more room to work with. He used that room to fire the wrister into the net. Caps 2, Hurricanes 0

Capitals goal: Lars Eller from Nate Schmidt and Brett Connolly at 6:10 in the 3rd. Nothing complicated about this one. Eller entered the offensive zone on a three-on-two, wound up and ripped a slap shot past Lack. Caps 3, Hurricanes 0

Capitals goal: Evgeny Kuznetsov from Justin Williams and Marcus Johanson at 6:37 in the third. Johansson went in on net drawing Lack and the defense, then flicked a backhand pass to Kuznetsov who shot it in. Caps 4, Hurricanes 0

Capitals goal: Marcus Johansson from Matt Niskanen and Alex Ovechkin at 14:12 in the third. Ovechkin fired a shot from the office and the rebound went right to Johansson for the layup rebound. Caps 5, Hurricanes 0

3 stars

1. Braden Holtby: With the shutout, Braden Holtby is now tied for the NHL lead with seven on the season. As a team, the Caps have 10 which breaks a franchise record.

2. Alex Ovechkin: Not only did Ovechkin score the first goal of the game, but he was also strong on the forecheck, nearly scoring off a steal from behind the net. There were a few opportunities for the Great 8 to get an assist as well, with some great passes. He scores so much, it's easy to forget just how good of a passer he is.

3. Brett Connolly: Was there a better offseason signing in the entire NHL than Connolly? Based on what he cost to get and what was expected of him, I'm not sure any free agent has exceeded expectations more than Connolly this season.

Look ahead: The Caps host the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday and the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday before the team leaves for its bye week.

Tell us what you think: It's time for the question no one wants to answer. With the ridiculous dominance this team is showing at the moment with 10 straight home wins with five shutouts and eight straight with five or more goals, is this the most dominant this team has looked ever?

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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.


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.


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3 stars of the game: Caps knock out the punchless Sabres

3 stars of the game: Caps knock out the punchless Sabres

Coming off an ugly 7-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, a Buffalo Sabres team missing star Jack Eichel was just what the doctor ordered for the Caps to get back on track. Washington dominated the first two periods and then survived a late surge from Buffalo for the 3-2 win.

After battling to a scoreless first, Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson spotted Washington a 2-0 lead in the second. They then held on in the third period as Buffalo began to tilt the ice in their favor, with Evgeny Kuznetsov scoring the empty-netter to put this game out of reach. Evander Kane would pull Buffalo within one, but with only three seconds left it was too little, too late.

Here are the three stars of the game:

1. Alex Ovechkin: Ovechkin opened up the scoring in the second period as he deflected down an innocent shot from Christian Djoos past Chad Johnson.

Ovechkin also set a physical tone as he battled with defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen all game long. After taking a high elbow from Ristolainen early in the game Ovechkin skated up to Ristolainen prior to the faceoff on his next shift and let him know that it was on. 

2. John Carlson: Carlson had a hand in both of Washington's first two goals. He recorded a secondary assist on Ovechkin's goal as he made a blue line pass to Djoos which Djoos fired on net and Ovechkin deflected. Carlson then managed to hit the puck past the goal line in a scrum next to Johnson. It looked initially like Kyle Okposo had managed to kick out the puck just before it crossed, but Carlson was awarded the goal as a review showed the puck had completely crossed the line.

3. Philipp Grubauer: A Sabres team that ranks last in the NHL in scoring and that was also without its leading scorer did not test Grubauer much in the first two periods. Facing a 2-0 deficit, however, Buffalo made a third period push to try to tie the game, but Grubauer was up to the task as he turned aside 15 of the 17 shots he faced in the final 20 minutes. He finished with 32 total saves on the night.