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Caps stay atop the NHL with win in Raleigh


Caps stay atop the NHL with win in Raleigh

By the time they are back in their beds sometime early Tuesday morning, the Caps will be holding a share of the NHL lead in points. Here is our post-game analysis of the Caps’ 2-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes Monday night in Raleigh:

How it happened: Caps goaltender Philipp Grubauer stopped 31 of 32 shots and withstood a last-minute flurry by  the Hurricanes to leads the Caps to their sixth straight victory. Michael Latta and Jason Chimera provided the only offense the Caps needed as they improved to 13-0-1 when receiving a goal from the third or fourth line.  

What it means: The Caps are now 13-1-1 in their last 15 games and share the top spot in the NHL with a 25-6-2 record and 52 points. The Dallas Stars (25-7-2) also have 52 points but have played one more game.

Grubi Dooby Doo: Trotz rewarded Grubauer’s strong effort against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday night by giving him the start in Raleigh and the rookie netminder was outstanding, especially in the final 1:31 of regulation when the Caps killed off a too-many-men penalty. Grubauer made back-to-back stops on Elias Lindholm and Jeff Sinner .to preserve the one-goal lead.

RELATED: NHL names Oshie Second Star of the week

Chimmer me timbers: Jason Chimera’s second-period goal, which came off a strong faceoff win by Jay Beale, was his second in as many games and ninth of the season. That’s one more goal than Chimera scored in 77 games last season. Chimera’s 18 points are also one more than he recorded last season.

Latta offense: Michael Latta Latta gave the Caps an early 1-0 lead 15:52 into the opening period when he dropped a pass for Andre Burakovsky and followed up Burakovsky’s rebound for his third goal of the season. That’s three more goals than Latta scored last season.

Etc: Defenseman Matt Niskanen blocked a team-high eight shots, while defense partner Karl Alzner blocked five. The Caps finished with 27 blocked shots. Jay Beagle picked up one assist and won 14 of 18 faceoffs in 15:27 of ice time to earn the first star of the game.  T.J. Oshie, who tweaked a lower body injury on Sunday night in New York, saw 18:06 of ice time. 

Merry Christmas: Caps coach Barry Trotz emphasized the need for the Caps to finish out their pre-Christmas schedule with a strong push and they did just that, following back-to-back comeback victories with a wire-to-wire win.

Statistically speaking: The Caps are 10-3-0 in their last 13 games in Carolina and have won six of their last seven. Since the start of the 2010-11 season the Caps are 19-6-3 against the Canes and are 7-1-1 in their last nine meetings.

What’s next: The Caps are off until Saturday night when the Montreal Canadiens visit Verizon Center.

MORE CAPITALS: Holtby praises Wilson for coming to his defense Sunday

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3 reasons the Caps beat the Stars

3 reasons the Caps beat the Stars

The Washington Capitals had not beaten the Dallas Stars at home since 2006, Alex Ovechkin's second season in the NHL. That streak ended on Tuesday in a 4-3 Caps win.

Here's how the Caps were finally able to down Dallas in Washington.

Oshie still hot

After going 19 straight games without a goal, T.J. Oshie has been red-hot of late with four goals in his last four games. He scored Washington’s first goal in what would become a three-goal period for the Caps as they battled back from a 1-0 deficit into a 3-3 tie through 40 minutes. Oshie also added an assist as he won a power play faceoff that John Carlson fed to Alex Ovechkin for the goal.


Ovechkin victimizing his favorite target

You knew Ovechkin would score given he was playing against one of his favorite targets. With his second period goal, Ovechkin now has 22 goals against Kari Lehtonen in his career, tied with Henrik Lundqvist for the most goals he has scored on any netminder. Lehtonen has not been in the Eastern Conference since the 2008-09 season. When he goes to sleep at night, Ovechkin is who he sees in his nightmares.

The Carlson-Klingberg duel

Carlson and John Klingberg entered Tuesday’s game each with 59 points, tied for the league lead in points among defensemen. Carlson downplayed the matchup both before and after the game, but it was clear that both players were playing at another level all game long. While both players tallied two points on the night, you have to give the win to Carlson as he had the most significant point, a game-winning goal in the third period.


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Tarik's 3 Stars: Ovechkin further cements his place in history

Tarik's 3 Stars: Ovechkin further cements his place in history

Alex Ovechkin further cemented his place in NHL history, John Carlson stayed hot and Braden Holtby was good when called upon as the Caps downed the Stars, 4-3, at Capital One Arena on Tuesday night.

The victory was Washington’s fifth in the past six games. It also marked the Caps’ first win over Dallas in D.C. since 2006.

Tarik’s three stars of the game:

1-Alex Ovechkin, Capitals

Ovechkin scored his 44th goal of the season and the 602nd of his career in the second period to give the Caps a short-lived 3-2 edge in the second period.

The goal put Ovi back atop the league as he seeks a seventh Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy. It also pushed him past Jari Karri and into sole possession of 19th place on the NHL’s all-time list. Ovechkin has now victimized Kari Lehtonen 22 times, which is tied for the most goals he’s scored against a single netminder. (Henrik Lundqvist has also given up 22 goals to No. 8). Ovi also had a couple of secondary helpers.

2-John Carlson, Capitals

Carlson scored the game-winner 4:59 with left to play, blasting a one-timer past Lehtonen to put the Caps ahead 4-3.

Carlson also notched an assist, which allowed him to stay even with Dallas’ John Klingberg. Klingberg had two assists. Both players ended the game with 61 points—tied for the most among all NHL defensemen.    

3-Alexander Radulov, Stars

From his first shift, it was apparent that Radulov was determined to leave his mark on the game. And he did just that, recording a goal, an assist and boarding minor that bloodied Caps defenseman Michal Kempny. Radulov’s goal—a redirection of a John Klingberg shot—was his 26th and it evened the score, 2-2, in the second period.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think in the comments.