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Caps stars rise up to down Devils in New Jersey

Caps stars rise up to down Devils in New Jersey

Final score: Capitals 5, Devils 2

How it happened: Washington took an early lead on a breakaway goal from Alex Ovechkin, then extended it to 2-0 before the end of the period. New Jersey struck early in the second to make it look like they would make it a game, but Washington responded with two more goals to eventually chase goalie Keith Kinkaid from the crease. Washington would add an empty-netter late in the third.

What it means: Thursday’s win improves the Caps’ record within the Metropolitan division to 10-5-5. Washington heads into the All-Star break with the most points in the NHL (72) and a 13-1-1 record in their past 15 games.

Goals

Capitals goal: Alex Ovechkin unassisted at 6:14 in the 1st. Ovechkin generated a turnover at the blue line with some strong work on the forecheck and he was in all alone. He finished the play with a backhanded to beat Kinkaid. Caps 1, Devils 0

Capitals goal (power play): Andre Burakovsky unassisted at 18:28 in the 1st. Devils defenseman Jon Merrill made an ill-advised pass to Adam Henrique right in front of the net and Henrique could not corral the pass allowing Burakovsky to pounce and bury it. Caps 2, Devils 0

Devils goal: Stefan Noesen from Jacob Josefson and Pavel Zacha.  Josefson and Zacha teamed up to pressure Burakovsky on the boards forcing a turnover. Zacha then found Noesen in the slot for the goal. Caps 2, Devils 1

Capitals goal: Lars Eller from Dmitry Orlov and Andre Burakovsky. Lars Eller was setting a screen, but found a shot from Dmitry Orlov on his stick and fired it into the back of the net. Caps 3, Devils 1

Capitals goal (power play): Evgeny Kuznetsov from Dmitry Orlov and Alex Ovechkin. Burakovsky found a streaking Kuznetsov with a perfect pass and he turned on the jets to leave defenseman Steven Santini in the dust. He then gracefully slid the puck through the five-hole of Kinkaid for the goal. Caps 4, Devils 1

Devils goal (power play): Adam Henrique from Michael Cammalleri and P.A. Parenteau. Henrique deflected a shot from Cammalleri past Braden Holtby. Caps 4, Devils 2

Capitals goal (empty net): Evgeny Kuznetsov unassisted. Caps 5, Devils 2

Three stars

1. Evgeny Kuznetsov: Kuznetsov scored two goals on the night and showed a lot of skill and speed throughout the game. He was skating and playing with confidence and you could tell. You almost feel sorry for defenseman Steven Santini who was left eating Kuznetsov's dust. Almost.

2. Braden Holtby: The Caps scored five goals and Holtby allowed two, but this would have been a very different game if Holtby was not on point early. He allowed Washington to take control on the scoreboard even when the Devils were tilting the ice in their favor.

3. Taylor Hall: Hall missed the first two games between these teams and he made his presence known Thursday. The Caps defense had no answer for his speed in the first two periods as Hall generated quality opportunity after quality opportunity. Holtby, however, made sure Hall was kept off the board.

Look ahead: Alex Ovechkin and Braden Holtby now head to Los Angeles for the All-Star festivities this weekend. The rest of the team will be off until Monday when they reconvene at Kettler for an afternoon practice before hitting the road for a game in Brooklyn against the Islanders on Tuesday.

Tell us what you think: Things got physical in the third period as Brooks Orpik laid out Hall with what looked like a clean hit. The Devils took exception, however, which led to a brawl on the ice. When the dust settled, Tom Wilson and Kyle Palmieri were assessed misconducts for fighting. All this for a clean hit. Do you think physical play is being taken out of the game by both the players and the refs?

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NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Power Rankings: The West is set while the Caps still have work to do

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NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Power Rankings: The West is set while the Caps still have work to do

There are only two series left in the first round that have yet to be decided. The Caps just so happen to be playing in one of those series.

After falling into a 0-2 hole to start, Washington has rattled off three straight wins and now sits just one away from putting away the Columbus Blue Jackets and advancing to the second round.

Should the Capitals advance, they will play the Pittsburgh Penguins for the third consecutive season.

<<NHL POWER RANKINGS: STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS>>

The Penguins ended their series against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday in Game 6. Jake Guentzel scored four goals in the effort proving once and for all that yes, goaltending is important in the playoffs. Head coach Mike Sullivan has still yet to lose a playoff series as the head coach of Pittsburgh as he led the Penguins to a Stanley Cup in each of the past two seasons.

In the Atlantic, the Tampa Bay Lightning await the winner of the Boston Bruins - Toronto Maple Leafs series after dispatching the New Jersey Devils in five games. After a strong regular season, the Maple Leafs looked poised to take the next step, but Auston Matthews has only two points in five games and Toronto faces elimination at the hands of the Bruins Monday in Game 5.

<<NHL POWER RANKINGS: STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS>>

All four series in the West, meanwhile, have already been decided. Both the Vegas Golden Knights and San Jose Sharks managed four-game sweeps in the first round and will face one another in the second  The miraculous season of the Golden Knights continues and it would be hard to argue at this point that they are not legitimate Stanly Cup contenders considering all they have accomplished in both the regular season and the playoffs.

Wins by the Nashville Predators and Winnipeg Jets now sets up a second-round battle between the top two teams in the league from the regular season.

<<NHL POWER RANKINGS: STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS>>

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Game 6 Capitals at Blue Jackets Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

Game 6 Capitals at Blue Jackets Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

After three straight wins, the Caps now sit just one win away from closing out the Columbus Blue Jackets. They will get their shot to finish the series Monday in Game 6.

Nicklas Backstrom was the hero in Game 5 for Washington with three points including the overtime winner. Who will step up in Game 6? The Caps will need to make sure it's not Artemi Panarin who has been held without a point in two straight games. Washington will also need to make sure their penalty kill stays hot as they have killed off 13 straight power plays for the Blue Jackets.

The Pittsburgh Penguins await the winner of this series after closing out the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday. Will the Caps close out Columbus and set up the rematch?

What: Washington Capitals vs. Columbus Blue Jackets, Round 1, Game 6

Where: Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio

When: 7:30 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 6 will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 6 on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

The Capitals take on the Blue Jackets in Game 6 on Monday, April 23 at 7:30 p.m. ET in Columbus. Washington currently leads the series 3-2.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME ON?

Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 6 will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:30 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 7:00 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:30 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:30 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:30 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
7:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:30 p.m. — Capitals at Blue Jackets
10:00 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:30 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

Capitals-Blue Jackets Game 6, 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.

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

Here are the Caps' projected lines:

Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Tom Wilson
Chandler Stephenson - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly- Lars Eller - Devante Smith-Pelly
Jakub Vrana -  Jay Beagle - Alex Chiasson

Michal Kempny - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Christian Djoos

Braden Holtby with Philipp Grubauer as backup.

Scratches: Travis Boyd, Andre Burakovsky (upper-body), Shane Gerisch, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek

CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS 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.

SEE THE CAPITALS VS. BLUE JACKETS FULL SERIES SCHEDULE HERE

CAPITALS SCHEDULE