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Caps move one step closer to Presidents' Trophy with dominant win over Toronto

Caps move one step closer to Presidents' Trophy with dominant win over Toronto

Final score: Washington Capitals 4, Toronto Maple Leafs 1

How it happened: The Capitals dominated the opening frame, outshooting the Leafs 13-3 and outscoring them 1-0 thanks to a Lars Eller goal off a great cycle play by the third line. Kevin Shattenkirk scored his first goal as a Cap on a power play in the second period. Nate Schmidt added Tom Wilson added exclamation points in the third period. Mitch Marner ended the shutout bid late in the third.

What it means: The win is Washington’s ninth in their last 11 games. The Caps maintained a five-point lead over Pittsburgh for the top spot in the Metropolitan. They did not clinch the division or the Presidents’ Trophy, however, because of Pittsburgh’s win over Columbus. The magic number for Washington clinch is one.


Caps goal: Lars Eller from Brett Connolly and Andre Burakovsky at 14:34 in the 1st period. Burakovsky turned on the jets to beat out an icing call behind the net and tapped it along the boards to Eller. The cycle was on as Eller passed to Connolly who passed to Burakovsky who backhanded a pass that Eller one-timed into the back of the net. Caps 1, Maple Leafs 0

Caps goal: Kevin Shattenkirk (power play) from Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin at 10:00 in the 2nd period. The Caps gave the Leafs a different look on the power play with a lot of player movement. As Backstrom held the puck, Shattenkirk and Ovechkin switched positions with Shattenkirk heading to the circle and Ovechkin going to the point. That drew a penalty killer too high to Ovechkin, leaving an open lane for the cross-ice pass to Shattenkirk. From there, the goal was practically a layup. Caps 2, Maple Leafs 0

Caps goal: Nate Schmidt from Justin Williams and Brett Connolly at 8:11 in the 3rd period. An aggressive forecheck generated a turnover in the Leafs' zone. Williams pounced on it and gave it to Connolly. Connolly skated to the corner to draw the defense, then backhanded a pass to the high slot and a wide open Schmidt. Schmidt wristed the puck home. Caps 3, Leafs 0

Caps goal: Tom Wilson from Daniel Winnik and Jay Beagle at 16:46 in the 3rd. Winnik chipped the puck into the Leaf's zone as a dump-in, but Wilson caught the Leafs on a horrendous change and was in all by himself. He cut inside then slid the puck through the five-hole for the goal. Caps 4, Leafs 0

Leafs goal: Mitch Marner (power play) from James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak at 18:52 in the 3rd period. Van Riemsdyk pulled off a great pass through the legs to setup a wide open Marner for the easy goal. Caps 4, Leafs 1

3 stars

1. Lars Eller: How good did that goal feel? Eller scored his first non-empty net goal since Feb. 7 thanks to a great cycle play. He also drew two penalties on the night and was relentless on the forecheck. His effort level was fantastic all game long.

2. Alex Ovechkin: Columbus may have awoken something in Ovechkin in Sunday's game because he was a one-man wrecking ball to start this game. He finished with a team-high four hits on the night and also registered an assist on On Shattenkirk's goal.

3. Philipp Grubauer: Grubauer nearly earned his fourth shutout of the season turning aside 27 of the 28 shots he faced. The Leafs did not manage to get many pucks on net, but he was up to the task whenever they did.

Look ahead: The Caps return home on Wednesday to host the New York Rangers. They then wrap-up the regular season with another back-to-back on Saturday and starting in Boston and then ending in Washington against Florida.

Tell us what you think: After Tuesday's results, Washington and Toronto were slated at first round opponents for the playoffs. The standings are not yet final and bearing in mind that a postseason series is very different than Game 79 of the regular season, how do you think the Caps would fare in a seven-game series against the Leafs?

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Game 73 Capitals vs. Stars Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread


Game 73 Capitals vs. Stars Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Dallas Stars

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

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

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

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Stars game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.


The Capitals (41-24-7) take on the Stars (38-27-8) Tuesday, March 20 at 7:00 p.m. ET at Capital One Arena.


The Capitals-Stars 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. Stars
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:00 p.m. — Caps in 30


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

Alex Ovechkin -  Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Andre Burakovsky - Lars Eller - T.J. Oshie
Jakub Vrana - Travis Boyd - Brett Connolly
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Michal Kempny - Jakub Jerabek

Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches: Evgeny Kuznetsov (upper body injury), Alex Chiasson, Brooks Orpik (lower body injury)


The Capitals-Flyers 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.


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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Can Pittsburgh's past be a goalie rotation blueprint?


Can Pittsburgh's past be a goalie rotation blueprint?

It’s happened. The Caps no longer seem to have a No. 1 goalie anymore, they have a No. 1 and 1a.

That’s right, we have a goalie rotation in Washington.

“There's no sense riding one,” Barry Trotz said after practice on Monday. “[Braden Holtby] is coming back and looking better every game and [Philipp Grubauer] played pretty well for a long stretch so why not have both of them going?”

Grubauer got the start Sunday in Philadelphia and Holtby is slated to get the start Tuesday against the Dallas Stars. After that we will have to wait and see.


Trotz has no layout for which goalie he wants to start and when in the remaining ten games. He is not thinking about each goalie splitting five games or which one he wants to use more.

Nope. Trotz has just one thing on his mind. It is all about who starts the next game, that’s it.

“I think you just go with a guy that's hot at the time and your team feels comfortable with and go from there,” Trotz said.

So where does this leave the goaltending situation when it comes to the playoffs? A goalie rotation is all well and good in the regular season, but he has to have one starter for the postseason, right?

Not necessarily.


When Trotz was asked if he philosophically believed in having one starter for the playoffs, Trotz initially said he would not answer, but then said, “Why don't you ask Mike Sullivan what he thinks.”

Sullivan, of course, is the head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins who has led his team to a Stanley Cup in each of the past two seasons despite turning to both goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray in both seasons.

While Pittsburgh’s goalie rotation was largely based on injury, however, it still provides an example of how using both goalies can work in the playoffs and that seems to be the path the Caps are headed on at the moment.

Said Trotz, “You just have to go with your gut who you think is going to get the job done.”