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News and notes from Caps' 5-3 win over Jets


News and notes from Caps' 5-3 win over Jets

News and notes as the Capitals look back on Wednesday night’s 5-3 win over the Winnipeg Jets and head to Friday’s 5 p.m. showdown with the Tampa Bay Lightning:

Calm Tom: Fourth-line right wing Tom Wilson played just under 12 minutes, took one shot, delivered four hits and blocked two shots in the Caps’ win over the Jets, but it was the restraint he showed in a first-period battle with Winnipeg defenseman Dustin Byfuglien that drew the praise of his coach and teammates.

Wilson was drilled into the Winnipeg net by Byfuglien late in the first period with the Caps trailing 2-1. But instead of chasing Byfuglien down the ice he picked himself up and skated to his bench, drawing an interference penalty that lewd to Alex Ovechkin’s power-play goal.

“That’s good discipline by Tom,” Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom said. “He sucked it up and we got a PP there.”

Trotz said he’s seeing a lot of maturity from his 21-year-old winger.

“Last year, maybe the year before, Tom Wilson is going to the box,” Trotz said. “And that was a huge goal. He got under the skin of one of their top players and we respond and tie the game up. It got them rattled a little bit.”

Caps goalie Braden Holtby said Wilson is learning the fine art of balancing aggression and restraint.

“It’s big,” Holtby said. “I don’t know if Willy in the past would have done that. It’s good. It’s showing maturity. I think he knows he has a bigger role on the team now.

“He plays more minutes, kills penalties. We need him on the ice more than in the penalty box and he realizes that. He’s playing a really hard physical game and getting the other team off their game.”

Kuz-tastic: Evgeny Kuznetsov now has five three-point games this season, two in the last three games. He has earned nine points in his last seven games.

Snarly: Caps defenseman Dmitry Orlov has scored in three straight games and has earned a point in four consecutive games, marking his career-long point streak.

Passing Langway: Defenseman John Carlson (204 points) earned two assists Wednesday night, passing Rod Langway (202) for eighth place on the Capitals franchise list for points by a defenseman . Carlson has 49 goals and 155 assists in 419 career games and now sits 67 points shy of passing Sylvain Cote (270) for seventh on the all-time list.

Other Willy: Justin Williams has scored a goal in four of his last seven games  and has 14 points in his last 17 games.

Nice start: The Capitals improved to 15-5-1 (31 points) this season, marking the team’s second best start in franchise history. Washington posted a 16-5-0 record (32 points) through 21 games in 1991-92.

Home ice: The Caps are 9-3-1 at home this season and are 3-1-0 on their five-game homestand, which ends on Friday. The Caps have earned a point in seven of their last eight games at home (6-1-1) and are 9-1-0 when scoring first and 9-0-0 when leading after two periods.

“We know how to play them now,” Backstrom said of tight games. “We did a pretty good job last season and in the playoffs as well. It’s really important in today’s hockey.”

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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.


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Tarik's 3 stars: Grubauer, Caps shut down the Red Wings

Tarik's 3 stars: Grubauer, Caps shut down the Red Wings

It wasn’t pretty but the Caps eventually got what they needed in Detroit: two points.  

After a sleepy first 40 minutes, Brett Connolly scored midway through the third period and then Philipp Grubauer made sure it stood up at Little Caesars Arena, where Washington eked out a 1-0 victory Thursday over the scuffling Red Wings.


Tarik’s three stars of the game:

1-Philipp Grubauer, Capitals

For much of the game, Grubi was left to fend for himself. Good thing for the Caps he was up to the task. The German netminder, who has been one of the NHL’s top goaltenders since Thanksgiving, turned aside 39 shots, including three stops on a pivotal 5-on-3 penalty kill in the second period.

2-Brett Connolly, Capitals

The Caps didn’t get many Grade-A opportunities vs. Jimmy Howard. But Connolly buried one of the few they got…on a 2-on-0, set up by Jakub Vrana in the third period.

Connolly’s goal was his 15th of the season in his 63rd game, equaling the career-high he set a year ago in 66 contests. Vrana, meantime, has three goals and five assists since getting scratched 12 games ago.

3-Lars Eller, Capitals

Eller didn’t record a point, but he was all over the puck in Motown. The veteran center finished with a game-high six shots on net. He also had a key backcheck against Darren Helm, on a shorthanded breakaway, in the first period.

Eller was good in the dot, too, winning eight of 12 faceoffs.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think in the comments.