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Holtby playing on another level

Holtby playing on another level

News and notes following the Capitals’ series-clinching 1-0 victory over the Flyers on Sunday at the Wells Fargo Center:

Holt-beast: Caps goalie Braden Holtby stopped all 26 shots he faced to earn his 20th career playoff win, tying Olie Kolzig for first place on the Capitals playoff wins list.

Holtby ranks first among active NHL goaltenders (minimum 20 games played) in career playoff goals-against average and save percentage. He’s posted two shutouts, a 0.84 goals-against average and a .968 save percentage this postseason. In addition, Holtby ranks first in NHL playoff history (minimum 25 games played) in career save percentage (.940) and third in career goals-against average (1.76), trailing Lorne Chabot (1.54) and Dave Kerr (1.74).

Today marks Holtby’s second shutout of the series, becoming the third Capitals goaltender in franchise history to record two shutouts in a single series (Semyon Varlamov, 2009 Eastern Conference quarterfinals vs. NY Rangers; Olie Kolzig, 1998 Eastern Conference semifinals vs. Ottawa).

Holtby now has four shutouts in his postseason career, ranking second in franchise history (Kolzig: 6). Holtby has allowed no more than one goal in 17 of his 20 career playoff wins, including each of his last 14 wins dating back to Game 6 of the 2012 Eastern Conference semifinals against the Rangers.

Tricky Nicky: Nicklas Backstrom scored his second goal of the series today, marking his team-high seventh point of the postseason (2 goals, 5 assists). Backstrom’s goal is his 20th career playoff goal, becoming the fifth Capitals player in franchise history to score 20 postseason goals.

MoJo Rising:  Marcus Johansson earned an assist, marking his sixth point of the postseason (1 goals, 5 assists) and the most points he has tallied in a single series in his playoff career.

Ovi also a beast: Both Barry Trotz and Dave Hakstol spoke highly of Alex Ovechkin and the physical impact he had on the series. Ovechkin led all players with 28 hits and 29 shots. Trotz called him a “beast.” He finished with three goals and two assists in the series and now has 75 points (39 goals, 36 assists) in 78 career playoff games, ranking first in franchise history in postseason points and goals.

Shut down:  The Caps allowed six goals in this series, marking the fewest goals allowed in a best-of-seven series in franchise history (previous: 1998 Eastern Conference semifinals vs. Ottawa, 7).

Killer PK: Trotz said the Capitals' penalty kill was the "difference maker" in the series. The Caps went 3-for-3 on the penalty kill in Game 6 and finished the series 23 of 24 (95.8 percent). In addition, the Capitals scored eight power-play goals in the series, marking the most power-play goals in a single series since the 2008 Eastern Conference quarterfinals vs. Philadelphia.

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John Carlson gets the better of John Klingberg in duel of top defensemen


John Carlson gets the better of John Klingberg in duel of top defensemen

One week ago, the hockey world was captivated by the matchup of Alex Ovechkin and Patrik Laine, two players battling for the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy as the NHL's leading scorer. Tuesday's matchup between the Washington Capitals and Dallas Stars once again pitted two competitors locked in a point battle together in John Carlson and John Klingberg.

Carlson and Klingberg entered Tuesday's games with 59 points each, tied for the league lead in points among defensemen. In a 4-3 win for Washington, both defensemen delivered phenomenal performances as each recorded two points, two assists for Klingberg and a goal and an assist for Carlson.

Tuesday's game was the latest example this season of Carlson rising to the occasion. He has been at his best when he has been needed the most such as when he was averaging 27:46 of ice time a night while Matt Niskanen was out injured.


Carlson's ability to deliver has not gone unnoticed by his teammates.

"John's having just a whale of a year, obviously," Niskanen said. "Monster year. Production, been carrying the load all year. He's been just a stalwart back there for us. He leads the way."

"The numbers don't lie, he's been having an unreal season," T.J. Oshie said. "Definitely on the points side of things, but maybe some parts that don't get talked about, the defensive side of things. He rarely loses a battle. It's very encouraging, it gets the bench going when he plays like that."

After the game, Carlson tried to downplay the notion that he elevated his game in response to playing against Klingberg.

"No," Carlson said when asked if he was motivated by the points race. "I think the guys do a good job of pumping that up in the locker room. I just want to go out there and win. I think we played a good game tonight so that's most important."

But while his words were subdued, his play was anything but.

Despite both players getting two points, Carlson got the better of his counterpart by scoring the game-winning goal in the third period, a one-timer slap shot to beat goalie Kari Lehtnonen, to lead Washington to the win.


Carlson may say he was not motivated by Klingberg, but his play certainly seemed to suggest otherwise.

"I think they both know, they know the stats," Barry Trotz said. "They know who they're lined up [against]. They're proud athletes. You're in a business where there's a lot of alpha males. That's what it is."

Of course, Carlson may not need a matchup with Klingberg to motivate him.

In the final year of his contract, Carlson has picked a good time to set new career highs in goals, assist and points. With a cap hit of just under $4 million, the 28-year-old blueliner will be due a significant raise in the offseason. That price tag continues to climb with every good performance as Carlson continues to cement himself among the league's top defensemen.

"Obviously he's very motivated," Trotz said. "He's in the last year of his contract. He'll be motivated. He's putting out points. He's gotten better and better. He's more poised every year. When he's intense and detailed in his game, he's a top defenseman in the league and he shows it."

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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.