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News and notes from Caps' 4-2 win over Lightning


News and notes from Caps' 4-2 win over Lightning

News and notes as the Capitals reflect on Friday night’s 4-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning and head to Saturday’s 7 p.m. showdown with the Toronto Maple Leafs:

Kuznetsov is killing it: With two more points in Friday's win, Evgeny Kuznetsov now sits fourth in the NHL with 26 points. That's in just 22 games, putting him on pace to shatter his career-high of 37 points in 80 games set last season. Can he continue this pace? His teammates say he absolutely can…

Braden Holtby: "I don't think he's going to come back from that. It's not a fluke. He's played extremely well and very consistent for us all year. Even the last half of last year. He's going to be in that top 10 in scoring for a long time, not just the rest of this year."

Jason Chimera: "This is a scratch on the surface of what he can be. He's an unbelievable talent. He kind of took off at maybe the three-quarter pole last year. He started playing really good hockey and then he kept it going in the playoffs. He's kind of skyrocketed this year. I think he's going to keep getting better.

Mo-Jo pours it on: Marcus Johansson carried over a strong two-point performance against Winnipeg to Friday's win by scoring his fourth goal of the season in the second period. It came just a minute and 15 seconds after a goal by Chimera and put the Capitals up 3-0. The goal was a simple ricochet off Johansson's skate on a John Carlson pass, but he'll take it. MoJo now has four points in his last four games, though this was his first goal since Nov. 3, a stretch of 11 contests.

Oshie breaks through: After scoring four goals through his first nine games this season, T.J. Oshie had found the back of the net just once in his previous 12 outings before Friday's win. He was goal-less in his last six games. But Oshie bucked that trend in the third period against the Lightning with a power play goal. 

"I don't think there has really been any pressure just because we have been winning games. If we would have been .500 in these last four, it might have been more difficult to swallow. The frustration might have built up a little more. But for the most part I've been staying positive through these games. A lot of guys have pitched in offensively. But I'd be lying if I said it wasn't nice to get that one," he said.

Chimera helping out on power play: Chimera was added to the Capitals power play eight games ago and has five power play points during that stretch. He has already surpassed his career-high for a season in power play goals with three and he's a 36-year-old veteran of 15 NHL seasons.

"Well, they didn't know I was a power play guy until I was 36. You usually find out stuff later in life and that's what they found out," he joked.

Trotz explained what Chimera brings to the power play:

"He has speed entering the zone. He's always dangerous, so you get pucks wide there. He's a little more of a presence in front of the net and he's very willing to do that. He's a veteran player. He's watched the power play, he's been on the power play, so he knows a lot of our nuances in terms of the changes and the terminology. All of those things. He's done a good job since he's gone on the power play. The power play has been very effective."

Nate Schmidt agrees:

"I think that he's got so much speed to his game that he commands so much respect from guys when he's down there on the bodies. When you're feeling it in this game, you're feeling it. And right now that's what he's doing. He's got the hot hand right now. He's making a lot of plays. He's a talented guy. There's a reason why he's played in this league for so long. He's carved a career out of being able to make plays and do the things that we saw him do tonight."

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Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018 projection: Still too close to call in the Metropolitan Division


Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018 projection: Still too close to call in the Metropolitan Division

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are right around the corner and there is still a lot to be decided.

The Metropolitan Division is going to come right down to the wire as each team seemingly continues to win and put the pressure on the first place Capitals.

With just over two weeks remaining in the regular season, the playoff matchups for the first round of the NHL playoffs are still up in the air with only five points separating the top four teams in the Metro. Washington is in good position with a four-point cushion between themselves and the second place Pittsburgh Penguins. With both teams meeting on April 1, however, the Caps are still a long way off from clinching the division and earning home ice in the first round.


Metropolitan Division
1. Washington (93 points, 74 GP, 40 ROW)
W1. Philadelphia (88 points, 75 GP, 36 ROW)

2. Pittsburgh (89 points, 74 GP, 40 ROW)
3. Columbus (89 points, 75 GP, 36 ROW)

Atlantic Division
1. Tampa Bay (106 points, 74 GP, 45 ROW)
W2. New Jersey (82 points, 73 GP, 32 ROW)

2. Boston (100 points, 72 GP, 42 ROW)
3. Toronto (95 points, 74 GP, 37 ROW)

Still in the hunt:
Florida (81points, 72 GP, 34 ROW)


Washington has won only one out of four games against the Philadelphia Flyers this season. That's not an ideal first-round matchup for Washington, but there is still time for the Flyers to climb and overtake Columbus or Pittsburgh in the standings..

What seems unlikely to happen is for New Jersey or Florida to pass Philadelphia. While things remain close near the top of the standings, there seems to be a growing divide between the top-four teams in the Metropolitan Division and the two teams battling for the final remaining spot in the playoffs.

The Flyers may be in fourth place in the division, but they still boast a healthy six-point lead over the Devils who sit in the second wild card.

If we assume New Jersey and Florida will not be able to climb to any postseason position, but the second wild card, that makes the three most likely candidates to face Washington in the first round Pittsburgh, Columbus and Philadelphia.

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3 reasons the Caps beat the Red Wings

3 reasons the Caps beat the Red Wings

Not much separated the Washington Capitals and the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday. A late 2-on-0 goal for Brett Connolly proved to be the difference.

Here's why the Caps ultimately walked away with the 1-0 win.

A first period goalie interference call

Andreas Athanasiou thought he had given the Red Wings a first period lead, but Barry Trotz challenged the call for goalie interference. The review showed that Tyler Bertuzzi clipped Philipp Grubauer in the head with an elbow right before the shot went in. Given how long it took the Caps to get going in this game, it is fair to say an early deficit would have been hard to overcome.


Killing off a full two-minute 5-on-3

Two man advantages are hard to kill. Killing off a full two-minutes at 5-on-3, that's a tall task. With the game still scoreless in the second period, T.J. Oshie and Lars Eller were both assessed penalties giving Detroit two-full minutes at 5-on-3. The Red Wings managed four shots on goal, but Washington was able to successfully kill off the penalty and keep the game scoreless.

Philipp Grubauer

There were few players who had strong efforts on Tuesday, but Grubauer was phenomenal. Even when the game felt sleepy in the first two periods, Detroit still managed 28 shots on goal, all of which were turned aside by the German netminder. When Washington finally took the lead in the third, the Red Wings woke up and began pushing the offense, but Grubauer was in the zone at that point and could not be beaten. His best save came in the third period when he stared down a breakaway from Athanasiou and extended the pad to deny the shot.