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Niskanen's OT goal gives Caps win over Bruins, 100 points on season


Niskanen's OT goal gives Caps win over Bruins, 100 points on season

Post-game analysis of the Capitals’ 2-1 overtime win over the Bruins Saturday night in Boston:

How it happened: Matt Niskanen beat Tuukka Rask at the 2:36 mark of overtime to give the Capitals a thrilling victory in a game that saw an overturned goal in the second period loom large. With the win the Capitals pushed to 100 points on the season, the eighth time in franchise history they have reached the century mark. They are now one point away from matching their total from last season with 17 games left to play.

Wait a second: Torey Krug appeared to put the Bruins up 2-0 at the 16:43 mark in the second period, but a closer look by the refs determined an offside violation. Barry Trotz saw something on the replay and ordered a challenge. The overturned call kept the Caps within striking distance and allowed Karl Alzner to tied it up in the second period.

Alz good: Alzner scored his fourth goal of the season and his first on the road of 2015-16. Alzner snapped in a Nicklas Backstrom pass that found him in the crease. It was the equalizer that ultimately gave the Caps a chance to win in the extra period.

First period woes: The Caps allowed the first goal for the 10th time in their last 12 games. This one was Patrice Bergeron’s 26th goal of the season. Brad Marchand got the assist by setting him up with a nice pass to find Bergeron to the left of Philipp Grubauer. The score at the end of the first was 1-0 despite some good chances for the Caps, who ended the frame up 9-7 in shots on goal.

Major for Ovi: Alex Ovechkin was called for a five minute major penalty at the 5:36 mark in the second period. Ovechkin hit Kevan Miller from behind and was called for boarding. A scrum between the teams ensued and Marchand was handed a two minute stay in the box. Tom Wilson later got an interference charge to give the Bruins a 5-on-3 advantage the Caps were eventually able to survive.

Boston beatdown: The Capitals have now won six straight games against the Boston Bruins, which is a franchise record (151 games). The Caps moved to 22-7-2 on the road and have earned a point in 20 of their last 25 road games. The Caps remain the only team in hockey without two consecutive regulation losses this season.

Look Ahead: The Caps face Bruce Boudreau and the Ducks on Monday. After that it’s a showdown with the Kings on Wednesday, with Justin Williams and Mike Richards making their first trip back to L.A. as members of the Caps. They then face Joel Ward and the Sharks on Saturday.

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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.


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.


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3 stars of the game: Caps knock out the punchless Sabres

3 stars of the game: Caps knock out the punchless Sabres

Coming off an ugly 7-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, a Buffalo Sabres team missing star Jack Eichel was just what the doctor ordered for the Caps to get back on track. Washington dominated the first two periods and then survived a late surge from Buffalo for the 3-2 win.

After battling to a scoreless first, Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson spotted Washington a 2-0 lead in the second. They then held on in the third period as Buffalo began to tilt the ice in their favor, with Evgeny Kuznetsov scoring the empty-netter to put this game out of reach. Evander Kane would pull Buffalo within one, but with only three seconds left it was too little, too late.

Here are the three stars of the game:

1. Alex Ovechkin: Ovechkin opened up the scoring in the second period as he deflected down an innocent shot from Christian Djoos past Chad Johnson.

Ovechkin also set a physical tone as he battled with defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen all game long. After taking a high elbow from Ristolainen early in the game Ovechkin skated up to Ristolainen prior to the faceoff on his next shift and let him know that it was on. 

2. John Carlson: Carlson had a hand in both of Washington's first two goals. He recorded a secondary assist on Ovechkin's goal as he made a blue line pass to Djoos which Djoos fired on net and Ovechkin deflected. Carlson then managed to hit the puck past the goal line in a scrum next to Johnson. It looked initially like Kyle Okposo had managed to kick out the puck just before it crossed, but Carlson was awarded the goal as a review showed the puck had completely crossed the line.

3. Philipp Grubauer: A Sabres team that ranks last in the NHL in scoring and that was also without its leading scorer did not test Grubauer much in the first two periods. Facing a 2-0 deficit, however, Buffalo made a third period push to try to tie the game, but Grubauer was up to the task as he turned aside 15 of the 17 shots he faced in the final 20 minutes. He finished with 32 total saves on the night.