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Carlson's big night power Caps past Lightning

Carlson's big night power Caps past Lightning

The Caps scored early and never looked back against the Tampa Bay Lightning on their way to the 4-0 win on Friday.

How it happened: It didn’t take very long for the Caps to get on the board. Hampered by a screen from Jay Beagle, Andrei Vasilevskiy went for the glove save on a slap shot from John Carlson, but the puck bounced off the glove and into the net just 55 seconds into the game. Carlson would strike again in the first period, scoring on a one-time set up by Marcus Johansson from behind the net. Alex Ovechkin added to the lead in the third period with a breakaway goal thanks to a phenomenal pass by Dmitry Orlov.

The exclamation point came in the third period as Marcus Johansson launched out of the penalty box and fired a wrister past Vasilevskiy to make it 4-0. At that point, the Lighting threw in the towel, pulling Vasilevskiy and replacing him with AHL callup Kristres Gudlevskis.

What it means: The win snaps a two-game skid for Washington and ties them with the idle Philadelphia Flyers for the top wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. Washingotn is now 18-0-0 when scoring three or more goals this season.

Turning point: The Capitals were dominant both offensively and defensively in the first period. Not only did they score twice, they also limited the Lighting to only nine total shot attempts. Carlson finished the first period with as many goals as Tampa had shots on goal (two). That is the tied for the fewest shots the Caps have allowed in a period this season. They also held the St. Louis Blues to two shots in the first period on Nov. 23.

Making up for lost time: Carlson is one of the Caps' top offensive weapons on the blue line, but the points have been hard to come by this season. Heading into Friday's game, Carlson had only one goal. With his two goals against the Lightning, Carlson now leads the Caps defensemen in goals with three. Friday was the second multi-goal game of Carlson's career. The last time he managed two goals was Dec. 2, 2014 against the Vancouver Canucks.

You shall not pass: Though he wasn't tested early, Braden Holtby was strong in net for the Caps turning aside 23 shots in a shutout performance. It was his third shutout of the season, tying him for third in the NHL. That also ties Holtby's total for last season in what was a Vezina-winning campaign for the Caps netminder.

Milestones approaching: With two assists, Nicklas Backstrom now has 20 on the season and sits just three assists shy of 500 for his career. Ovechkin’s breakaway goal in the second period pulled him to within 10 points of 1,000 career points. The goal was his third in six games and 15th of the season.

A helping hand: Tom Wilson recorded an assist on the first goal of the game. That marks the first assist of the season for Wilson. Wilson’s first assist of the season. That is a bit off the pace he set in 2015-16 in which he recorded 16 assists.

Look ahead: In observance of the Christmas holiday, no NHL games will be played Dec. 24-26. The Caps will be back in action on Dec. 27 in Brooklyn against the New York Islanders.

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Game 62: Capitals vs. Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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USA TODAY Sports

Game 62: Capitals vs. Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Buffalo Sabres

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

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

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

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

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

The Capitals (34-20-7) take on the Sabres (18-32-11) Saturday, February 24 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Capital One Arena.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME ON?

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

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

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

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

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

Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches: Alex Chiasson, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

The Capitals-Panthers 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.

CAPITALS-SABRES 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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Capitals Extra Podcast: Trade deadline story time with Alan May

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NBC Sports Washington

Capitals Extra Podcast: Trade deadline story time with Alan May

Alan May knows a thing or two about the trade deadline.

Over the course of his NHL career, May was traded five total times, four at the trade deadline. He sits down with Rob Carlin on a special edition of the Capitals Extra Podcast to tell stories from his playing days about what it was like getting traded.

This one's a can't miss for hockey fans. You can listen to the episode here on the Capitals Extra page or with the player below.