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How's that Brouwer-for-Oshie trade looking now?

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How's that Brouwer-for-Oshie trade looking now?

This time last year, Barry Trotz was all but looking in the stands to find someone to play regularly on a top line with left wing Alex Ovechkin and center Nicklas Backstrom.

Joel Ward got a chance, as did Troy Brouwer, Tom Wilson, Eric Fehr and Jay Beagle.  The revolving door spun so often that at the end of last season Trotz and general manager Brian MacLellan  decided the Caps needed to find a new top-line right wing in the offseason.

Goodbye, Troy Brouwer, goaltending prospect Pheonix Copley and a third-round pick in the 2016 NHL draft.  (See my analysis of that July 2 trade here).

How’s that trade looking now?

In 51 games with the St. Louis Blues this season, Brouwer, 30, has nine goals (one on the power play) and 11 assists for 20 points while playing on a top line with center Paul Stastny and left wing Alexander Steen. Brouwer, who is a minus-1, is averaging 17: 18 a game -- 1:44 on the power play and 1:23 on the penalty kill.

Copley, 24, has appeared in 23 games for the AHL Chicago Wolves this season and is 10-11-1 with a 2.78 GAA and .905 save percentage.

Which brings us to Oshie.

In his first season playing with Ovechkin and Backstrom, the 29-year-old native of Everett, Wash., has 15 goals (six of them on the power play) and 13 assists for 28 points in 46 games. He is a plus-14 while averaging 19:12 in ice time -- 2:57 on the power play and 1:28 on the penalty kill.

MORE CAPITALS: NOTHING TO MESS WITH

“T.J. brings a high skill level and a high compete level, but what he’s done for that line is you worry about Alex and you worry about Backy all the time and (in the past) the third component has been a guy who goes to the net and gets pucks,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said.

“T.J. offers a mix of both -- a real high skill level and I know Hitch (St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock) taught a real responsible style of play, so he gives them a real good (offensive/defensive) balance.

“(Ovechkin and Backstrom) can do their thing but he can beat people one-on-one; he’s dangerous. You’ve got to worry about all three guys. If T.J. is coming down at you he’s not necessarily trying to get it over to Ovi or Nick, where I think in the past that’s been the case (with other Caps right wings). Their winger is going, ‘I’m on this line, I get it to those guys.’ It probably gives them a little bit of space and they’re so skilled that if you give them a little bit of space they’ll use it to their advantage. He’s been a real good complement. There’s a respect factor.”

At his current pace, Oshie would set a career high with 27 goals, while falling five points shy of the 55 points he produced in his seventh and final season in St. Louis. He would also finish with a career-best plus-25.

Oshie, who has one year and $4.5 million remaining on his contract (Brouwer in in the final year of a contract that pays him $3.66 million a year), said it was an adjustment to learn the unpredictable tendencies of Ovechkin, a left wing who often roams to the right side of the ice looking for breakouts.

“We’ve been growing, chemistry-wise,” Oshie said. “I’ve been learning where they are, what kind of cycle game they like to play. It’s still a work in progress, but I think for the most part we’re playing a really good 200-foot game now.

“We’re starting to talk a lot more on the ice and that makes everything a lot simpler and a lot easier to read when you know where a guy is going to be.”

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Game 60: Capitals vs. Lightning Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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USA TODAY Sports

Game 60: Capitals vs. Lightning Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

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

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

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

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Lightning 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-LIGHTNING GAME?

The Capitals (34-18-7) take on the Lightning (39-17-3) Tuesday, February 20 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Washington.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME ON?

The Capitals-Lightning 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. Lightning
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-LIGHTNING GAME?

Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Lightning 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
Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Madison Bowey

Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches: Alex Chiasson, Taylor Chorney

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME?

The Capitals-Lightning 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-LIGHTNING 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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3 reasons why the Caps beat the Sabres

3 reasons why the Caps beat the Sabres

You may think this was an ugly four-game road trip for the Caps, but with a 3-2 win in Buffalo on Monday, Washington managed to earn five out of a possible eight points.

Here is why the Caps beat the Sabres and managed to save the road swing.

A missed high-stick (maybe) from Ovechkin

Ovechkin scored the first goal of the game in the second period as he deflected a high-shot from Christian Djoos down past goalie Chad Johnson. But did the deflection come on a high stick? The play was reviewed and the goal was ultimately upheld. According to the NHL, it was determined that "video review supported the Referee's call on the ice that Alex Ovechkin's stick was at or below the height of the crossbar when he tipped the puck into the Buffalo net."

NBC Sports Washington analyst Alan May broke the play down during the second intermission and made his case for why the NHL actually got the call wrong.

Was that a high stick? I don't know. As compelling an argument as May made, it still looks inconclusive which means the review made the right call. What surprises me is that the referee did not disallow the goal on the initial call.

Whether the review is truly inconclusive or flat out wrong, Washington was fortunate to walk away from this sequence with the goal.

MORE CAPITALS: BIZARRE SEQUENCE LEADS TO CAPS SCORING AND GETTING PENALIZED AT THE SAME TIME

A centimeter of ice

Hockey is a game of inches and it took less than an inch to put Washington up 2-0. When an Evgeny Kuznetsov shot hit off the boards and bounced back to the front of the net, it sparked a scrum next to goalie Chad Johnson. Eventually, John Carlson was able to get a swipe on the puck sending it trickling to the goal line, but Kyle Okposo was there waiting and appeared to kick it out to safety just before it crossed. A review triggered by the Situation Room, however, revealed that the puck had just barely managed to cross the goal line before Okposo got to it.

Here's the view the NHL released after the review:

Philipp Grubauer's third period

After dominating the first 40 minutes of the game and taking a 2-0 lead, Buffalo predictably made a late push in the third period with two goals to pull within one. Washington outshot the Sabres in the first and second periods, but Buffalo reversed that trend in a big way in the third as they outshot the Caps 17-6. Grubauer turned aside 15 of those shots and was impressive after barely being tested in the first two periods.

RELATED: CHECK OUT THE 3 STARS OF THE GAME FROM CAPS-SABRE