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Oshie, Chorney, Toews prepare for Sioux reunion

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Oshie, Chorney, Toews prepare for Sioux reunion

One night after facing his former coach at the University of North Dakota, current Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol, for the first time, Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews will butt helmets with a pair of Capitals he suited up with while playing for the Fighting Sioux a decade ago.

For two seasons (2005-07) Toews, T.J. Oshie and Taylor Chorney made up three-fifths of the most dangerous power play in college hockey as members of the University of North Dakota.

Tonight they’ll face each other when the Blackhawks visit the Capitals at Verizon Center (6:30 p.m. pregame, CSN).

Chorney says he saw greatness in Toews even before they were college teammates.

Chorney and Toews were 16-year-old teammates at Shattuck-St. Mary’s prep school, a hockey factory in Faribault, Minn., where Toews racked up 110 points in 64 games.

“When I was at Shattuck I wanted to play well so I could get a scholarship and maybe get drafted,” Chorney said. “For Johnny, his whole life he genuinely wanted to be a Hall of Famer. Not in a stuffy way. That’s been his dream and he’s been going at it at 100 miles an hour.”

Some might say that with three Stanley Cups, a Conn Smythe Trophy and an Olympic gold medal, Toews’ ticket to the Hockey Hall has already been punched. And he’s only 27.

“His work ethic is unbelievable, second to none,” said Oshie, who played two seasons on a line with Toews at North Dakota. “I think that’s why he’s had so much success, because of how much work he puts in away from the rink and at the rink.

“And he’s obviously a great leader as well. He’s the guy that drives the bus for them from an intensity standpoint, so we need to try to shut him down early, but he’s going to keep coming.”

In their two seasons together as linemates Oshie (41 goals, 56 assists) and Toews (40 goals, 45 assists) combined for 102 points in 87 games. Ironically, it was their linemate, left wing Ryan Duncan, who put up the most points in those two seasons (47-46-93), winning the 2007 Hobey Baker Award as the best college player in the nation.

(Duncan, 30, is now playing in Austria, having never played an NHL game.)

Chorney said he remembers the North Dakota power play, which also featured Travis Zajac and Drew Stafford, as one of the best he’d ever seen. Oshie agreed.

“That power play was pretty good,” he recalled. “I remember a lot of tic-tac-toes. They gave me a lot of empty netters, which was nice. It was fun.”

Tonight will mark the 34th game Oshie will line up against Toews but his first in a Capitals uniform. Oshie has five goals and 19 assists in his previous matchups against Chicago. And with both teams coming off shutout losses, Oshie said there will be no shortage of motivation.

“For the most part they stay on their game for the full 60 minutes,” Oshie said. “We’ve got to have a good start, unlike our first couple games, and we’ve got to play a full 60. These guys don’t go away and if they get up they try to get up two and then three.”

The Hawks (2-2-0) are expected to turn to 6-foot-6 backup goaltender Scott Darling, who has a 10-4-0 record in 15 career appearances in the NHL, along with a 1.88 GAA and .938 save percentage. Caps fans will also be getting their first look at Chicago’s 6-foot-8, 238-pound rookie defenseman Viktor Svedberg. 

MORE CAPITALS: Trotz sends urgent message with lineup changes

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Game 4 Capitals at Blue Jackets Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

Game 4 Capitals at Blue Jackets Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

With a thrilling double-overtime victory in Game 3, the Capitals are right back in the series. Trailing the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1, the Caps will look to even up the series at 2-games apiece before returning to Washington for Game 5.

As the Caps take the ice for Game 4, you can be certain that Braden Holtby will be the man to lead the team in net. His stellar performance in Game 3 resolidified him as the team' starter and ended whatever goalie tandem there was between him and Philipp Grubauer.

What: Washington Capitals vs. Columbus Blue Jackets, Round 1, Game 4

Where: Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio

When: 7:30 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 4 will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 4 on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

The Capitals take on the Blue Jackets in Game 4 on Thursday, April 19 at 7:30 p.m. ET in Columbus. Columbus currently leads the series 2-1.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME ON?

Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 4 will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:30 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 7:00 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:30 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:30 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:30 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
7:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:30 p.m. — Capitals at Blue Jackets
10:00 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:30 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

Capitals-Blue Jackets Game 4, 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.

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

Here are the Caps' projected lines:

Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly- Lars Eller - Devante Smith-Pelly
Chandler Stephenson -  Jay Beagle - Alex Chiasson

Michal Kempny - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Christian Djoos

Braden Holtby with Philipp Grubauer as backup.

Scratches: Travis Boyd, Andre Burakovsky (upper-body), Shane Gerisch, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek

CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS 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.

SEE THE CAPITALS VS. BLUE JACKETS FULL SERIES SCHEDULE HERE

CAPITALS SCHEDULE

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Braden Holtby's Game 3 performance brings clarity to Caps' goalie situation

Braden Holtby's Game 3 performance brings clarity to Caps' goalie situation

As the postseason began, the refrain from Barry Trotz has been how confident he is in both netminders and that the decision on who will start would be on a game-by-game basis. That tone changed sharply on Wednesday in the wake of Braden Holtby's Game 3 performance.

On a conference call with the media, Trotz was asked Wednesday if Holtby would start Game 4.

"I don't think there's any doubt about that," he said.

That type of clarity regarding who the Caps netminder is refreshing at this point as uncertainty has followed each of the first two games of the series.

The decision to sit Holtby in favor of Philipp Grubauer originally was not an easy one. After going through a tough six-week stretch from February to March, Holtby yielded the crease to Grubauer. The German netminder played well down the stretch and Trotz elected to stay with the hot hand to start the playoffs.

"[Holtby] was obviously probably a little disappointed but at the same time he's a total pro and our conversation was good," Trotz said. "The one thing that stands out to me, he says, if I get a chance to come back in the net I'll stop the puck. But I'm in. I understand and I'm ready if you need me."

Hotlby certainly was ready on Tuesday.

Grubauer performance admirably in Game 1 and Game 2, but he could not get the big save when the team needed it as Trotz lamented on Sunday.

The Caps got a number of those key saves from Holtby in Game 3, his first start of the series, as he turned aside 33 of the 35 shots he faced. To be fair, he was bailed out by the post four times in the game, but for the most part, it was a strong performance. When the backup plays well in a loss, it still generates questions on who will play going forward. When the starter comes back into the game and plays well, it erases all doubt as to who the starter will be going forward.

For the first time all series, the question of who will start is finally an easy one for Trotz to answer.

Trotz is also hopeful that Holtby has not only recovered from his struggles, but has improved his game because of them.

"You see it around the league with top goaltenders, they have some of these periods where they have to reset or refine themselves a little bit because it tests you," Trotz said. "This league test you all the time. It changes all the time and you have to change with it a little bit. I think it forced [Holtby] to move forward a little bit, rethink some things and recalibrate his game to the game that's being played in the National Hockey League right now.

"I think it's been a good process for him. I think it's just going to make him a more complete goaltender going forward, a more complete person going forward. It says a lot about  Braden."

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