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Caps start road trip on a low note with loss to Edmonton

Caps start road trip on a low note with loss to Edmonton

In a game that featured Alex Ovechkin and Connor McDavid, it was Benoit Pouliot who stole the show as the Washington Capitals fell to the Edmonton Oilers 4-1.

How it happened: An Alex Ovechkin turnover in the second period led to a rush the other way for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. He had Dmitry Orlov spinning in circles before firing the puck at the net. The shot hit off of Pouliot to fool Braden Holtby. Pouliot added a second tally in the period as he banked a shot in off the back of Holtby. Alex Ovechkin tried to spark a comeback with a quick goal in the third, but Edmonton added two goals in the final frame to put it out of reach.

What it means: Wednesday's loss was the Caps' second straight with both defeats coming in regulation. Last season, Washington did not lose consecutive games until Jan. 2. They did not lose consecutive games in regulation until the postseason. With three games left to go on their current road trip, the Caps wanted to get off to a strong start in Edmonton. A 4-1 loss was not the kind of start they were hoping for.


Ovechkin vs. McDavid: This game was billed as Ovechkin vs. Edmonton's budding superstar Connor McDavid. Both players made their presence felt. With the Caps trailing 2-0 to start the third period, Ovechkin scored just nine seconds in to pull the Caps within one. The Great 8 now has goals in four-straight games. He would finish with four shots on goal. McDavid tallied two assists and the Caps struggled early to contain him as he drew both of the Caps' penalties in the first period.

Second period dilemma: The second period has been identified as a weakness and Wednesday's game was no exception...sort of. The Caps allowed two goals in the middle frame allowing Edmonton to take control of the game. But the Caps took the first seven shots of the period and did not even allow a shot on goal until the 7:48 mark of the period. The problem? Edmonton scored on that shot. The optimistic view is that the Caps controlled the play and were just unlucky with the Oilers' goals coming off a deflection and a bank shot. But a goal's a goal. The Caps have now been outscored in the second period 8-2.

Power outage: The Capitals still need to get on track on the power play. Edmonton took two penalties in the first period, but the Caps were unable to take advantage and finished the game 0-for-3 with the extra man. A goal in either of those chances would obviously have changed the course of the game.

Look ahead: The Caps continue their Canadian road trip on Saturday in Vancouver with a quick turnaround to Calgary the next night. The road trip wraps up Tuesday in Winnipeg.


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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.”

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NHL Power Rankings: The home stretch

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NHL Power Rankings: The home stretch

We are down to the home stretch. Only 10 games remain in the Capitals' regular season. Those 10 games will ultimately decide if the Caps finish in first place in the Metropolitan Division and who they will play in the first round of the playoffs.

Washington currently sits in first place in the division, two points ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins and four points ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers. Of those 10 remaining games, only three come against teams currently in playoff position. The most critical of these comes on April 1 when the Caps travel to Pittsburgh in a game that could ultimately decide the division.

The Caps still hold a narrow lead in the standings, but where do they stand in the rankings? See this week's updated NHL Power Rankings here.