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Carlson adds two assists in 400th straight game

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Carlson adds two assists in 400th straight game

In a sport where injuries of all sorts are commonplace, simply staying on the ice in the NHL can be a feat of its own. NHL players are expected to battle through most ailments and they hold a reputation for many as the toughest in the world of sports.

So, for John Carlson to play in his 400th consecutive game on Friday night - a streak which ranks second among active defensemen - much has been needed. He has had the benefit of avoiding major injuries. There has perhaps been some luck. But most of all, there has been a simple desire to play the game he loves.

"It's not easy to do in this league, so I guess it's a cool feat. I don't really think about it too much. I just want to play in every game. That's my goal," he said.

Carlson has dealt with injuries, of course. He has just been able to overcome them and remain in the Capitals' lineup. Since 2010, Carlson has been there for the Caps every single night.

"Anybody goes through little things. Nobody really knows what anybody's going through. I'm not some type of hero. Everybody does it on pretty much a day-by-day basis. There's not too many times where you go a week or two with absolutely nothing wrong with you and feeling great. It just comes down to everyone wanting to play for the team," he said.

Carlson has the second-longest consecutive games streak in franchise history, trailing only Bob Carpenter, whose run was snapped at 422. He is one of only three defensemen - teammate Karl Alzner included - to have appeared in every regular season game of the last six seasons. He has the seventh-longest streak for a defenseman since 1943-44.

Remaining in the lineup as a defenseman is no small feat and Capitals head coach Barry Trotz explained exactly why that is.

"When you have a streaks of that many games in a row, it's becoming very impressive in this league and especially for defensemen. Because you can't hole up anymore. You have to go back for pucks under duress with guys bearing down on you. Interference is called. You can't interfere and get away with it like you used to. So, you take some hits a lot of times with guys coming with speed. It is very impressive," he said.

Carlson doesn't only put himself in harm's way defending in 5-on-5 situations, he also participates in the penalty kill.

"It's impressive because he's on both special teams and especially the penalty kill," Trotz continued. "Sometimes you're demanded to block a shot, especially coming off that backwall as a defenseman. That's your lane, you've got to block it. And pucks can hit you in many different areas: the hands, the wrists, all over. That can cause injury. Plus, he plays the game against top people. That puts a lot of strain on you."

Carlson added two assists in the game, which was already set to be a special night. It was his second straight multi-assist night and the fourth he has posted this season.

"He's a young guy who's evolved and continues to evolve as a top defenseman in this league. It is very impressive," Trotz said.

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Game 58: Capitals at Blackhawks Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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USA TODAY Sports

Game 58: Capitals at Blackhawks Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Chicago Blackhawks

Where: United Center, Chicago, Ill.

When: 8:30 p.m. ET

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

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

You can also stream the game online with no cable TV subscription on fuboTV (try for free!).

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-BLACKHAWKS GAME?

The Capitals (33-17-7) take on the Blackhawks (24-26-8) Saturday, February 17 at 8:30 p.m. ET in Chicago.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-BLACKHAWKS GAME ON?

The Capitals-Blackhawks game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 7:30 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 8:00 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 11:30 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 12:30 a.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

7:30 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
8:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
8:30 p.m. — Capitals at Blackhawks
11:00 p.m. — Caps Extra
11:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime
12:30 a.m. — Caps in 30

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-BLACKHAWKS GAME?

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

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

Defensemen
Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Madison Bowey

Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches: Jakub Vrana, Taylor Chorney

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-BLACKHAWKS GAME?

The Capitals-Blackhawks 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.

The game is also available to stream, along with all the pregame and postgame shows, on fuboTV (try for free).

CAPITALS-BLACKHAWKS 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.

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NHL Awards tracker: How Malkin is helping Ovechkin's case for the Hart

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USA TODAY Sports

NHL Awards tracker: How Malkin is helping Ovechkin's case for the Hart

A week by week look at where the race for the major individual NHL awards stands and which Caps could be in contention.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have been red-hot as of late and so has Evgeni Malkin. In his last nine games, Malkin has tallied a whopping 11 goals and 17 points. His current run has some people talking about him contending for the Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player.

But if you want to talk about Malkin for the Hart, you have to talk about Alex Ovechkin as well.

Malkin has 66 points this season, Ovechkin has 65. Even with his impressive goal run of late, Malkin still trails Ovechkin in the goal-scoring race 34-32. What's more, Ovechkin's Capitals still hold a three-point lead over Pittsburgh with two games in hand in the Metropolitan Division.

Granted all of this could change by next week. Perhaps Malkin will pass Ovechkin in goals or the Penguins will pass the Caps in the standings which will change the conversation. Until then, however, there's no way to push Malkin's Hart candidacy without thinking about Ovechkin. What he is doing at the age of 32 with a Capitals team in which no one really knew what to expect is more impressive than what the 31-year-old Malkin is doing with players like Phil Kessel and Sidney Crosby with the defending Stanley Cup champions.

Here are the Caps' hopefuls for awards this season:

John Carlson

In contention for: Norris

Carlson is third among all defensemen with 45 points, but his case goes beyond the numbers. With two rookies on the blue line and an injury to Matt Niskanen, the Caps have asked a lot of Carlson this season and he has always been up to the task.

SEE THIS WEEK'S 2018 NHL AWARDS TRACKER HERE

Braden Holtby

In contention for: Vezina

Holtby is on pace to be a 40-win goalie for the fourth consecutive season. He would be the first goalie in NHL history to accomplish that feat.

Alex Ovechkin

In contention for: Hart

If Malkin is a Hart candidate, so is Ovechkin who has done more with less in Washington this season.

Barry Trotz

In contention for: Jack Adams

The Caps still hold a three-point lead in the Metropolitan Division despite having two rookies on the blue line, dealing with more injuries than they have seen in years and down offensive years for some of its top players. Trotz deserves a lot of credit for that.

Check out who the top candidates are for the league's major individual awards in this week's 2018 NHL Awards Tracker!