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Pregame primer: All eyes on Ovechkin's availability


Pregame primer: All eyes on Ovechkin's availability

News, notes and quotes as the Capitals get ready to take on the San Jose Sharks tonight at Verizon Center (6:30 p.m. pregame, CSN):

Waiting on Ovi: The Capitals will know closer to pregame warmups whether captain Alex Ovechkin will be in the lineup. Ovechkin missed Tuesday morning’s pregame skate for what coach Barry Trotz called personal reasons.

If Ovechkin cannot play, look for Marcus Johansson to take his place on a top line with Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie, with rookie Stan Galiev possibly sliding onto the second line with Andre Burakovsky and Justin Williams. If Ovechkin can play, Galiev is likely to be a healthy scratch.

Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said his game plan won’t change if Ovechkin is out of the lineup.

“They’re a deep team,” he said. “Obviously, with him in you have to pay special attention to him. On the power play he’s key. But even if he’s not in we can’t take a deep breath and relax. That’s a very deep team offensively over there. I’m not hoping that he’s out, but (if he is) we still have to respect the fact they have a lot of other weapons over there.”

Special teams: The Caps went 2-for-5 on the power play in their season-opening 5-3 win over the New Jersey Devils, while the Sharks are a perfect 7-for-7 on the penalty kill. DeBoer devoted time to the PK at Tuesday morning’s practice, placing himself in Ovechkin’s and Oshie’s favorite shooting spots.

“Everybody knows what they’re going to do but everybody has trouble stopping it,” DeBoer said. “(Joel Ward) has given us some insight into some of their tendencies, but for us it’s just making sure we stay out of the box. I think that’s the best recipe to kill it.”

The Sharks are 2-for-9 on the power play, while the Caps are 2-for-3 on the penalty kill, with a shorthanded goal.

Ovi closing in on 900: Alex Ovechkin (476 goals, 421 assists) is three points shy of hitting 900. Since entering the NHL in 2005-06, Ovechkin has posted 135 more goals and 44 more points than any other player. Only four players have scored more goals than Ovechkin’s 475 in their first 10 seasons -- Wayne Gretzky, Mike Bossy, Mario Lemieux and Brett Hull. Ovechkin ranks first in franchise history in goals (476), points (897), power-play goals (176), game-winning goals (80), overtime goals (15), shots (3,834) and multi-goal games (100).

400 for Carly: Tonight will mark John Carlson’s 400th game as a Capital and his 380th consecutive game. That’s the second-longest consecutive games played streak in Capitals history, trailing only Bob Carpenter (422).

Remember me? The last time the Caps and Sharks met on Feb. 11 in San Jose, guess who scored the game-winning goal in overtime? Yep, Joel Ward. The Caps won 5-4.

Bearded ones: Sharks defenseman Brent Burns, 30, owns one of the best beards in the NHL and now Joe Thornton is looking to replicate it. Thornton, 36, is beginning his 17th NHL season and 10th with the Sharks.

[RELATED: Ovechkin a game-time decision for Tuesday's game]

Tonight’s projected lineups:


Forward lines

Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie

Marcus Johansson - Andre Burakovsky - Justin Williams

Jason Chimera - Jay Beagle - Tom Wilson

Brooks Laich - Michael Latta - Sean Collins

Defense pairings

Brooks Orpik - John Carlson

Matt Niskanen - Karl Alzner

Nate Schmidt - Dmitry Orlov


Braden Holtby - Philipp Grubauer

Injured: Nicklas Backstrom (hip), Chris Brown (hand)

Projected scratches: Stanislav GalievTaylor Chorney


Forward lines

Joonas Donskoi - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski

Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Joel Ward

Matt Nieto - Tomas Hertl - Tommy Wingels

Barclay Goodrow - Chris Tierney - Mike Brown

Defense pairings

Paul Martin - Brent Burns

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun

Brenden Dillon - Matt Tennyson


Martin Jones - Alex Stalock

Injured: None

Projected scratches: Dylan DeMeloBen Smith


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Game 73 Capitals vs. Stars Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

Game 73 Capitals vs. Stars Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Dallas Stars

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

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

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

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Stars game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.


The Capitals (41-24-7) take on the Stars (38-27-8) Tuesday, March 20 at 7:00 p.m. ET at Capital One Arena.


The Capitals-Stars 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. Stars
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:00 p.m. — Caps in 30


Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Stars game:

Alex Ovechkin -  Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Andre Burakovsky - Lars Eller - T.J. Oshie
Jakub Vrana - Travis Boyd - Brett Connolly
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Michal Kempny - Jakub Jerabek

Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches: Evgeny Kuznetsov (upper body injury), Alex Chiasson, Brooks Orpik (lower body injury)


The Capitals-Stars 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.


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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Can Pittsburgh's past be a goalie rotation blueprint?


Can Pittsburgh's past be a goalie rotation blueprint?

It’s happened. The Caps no longer seem to have a No. 1 goalie anymore, they have a No. 1 and 1a.

That’s right, we have a goalie rotation in Washington.

“There's no sense riding one,” Barry Trotz said after practice on Monday. “[Braden Holtby] is coming back and looking better every game and [Philipp Grubauer] played pretty well for a long stretch so why not have both of them going?”

Grubauer got the start Sunday in Philadelphia and Holtby is slated to get the start Tuesday against the Dallas Stars. After that we will have to wait and see.


Trotz has no layout for which goalie he wants to start and when in the remaining ten games. He is not thinking about each goalie splitting five games or which one he wants to use more.

Nope. Trotz has just one thing on his mind. It is all about who starts the next game, that’s it.

“I think you just go with a guy that's hot at the time and your team feels comfortable with and go from there,” Trotz said.

So where does this leave the goaltending situation when it comes to the playoffs? A goalie rotation is all well and good in the regular season, but he has to have one starter for the postseason, right?

Not necessarily.


When Trotz was asked if he philosophically believed in having one starter for the playoffs, Trotz initially said he would not answer, but then said, “Why don't you ask Mike Sullivan what he thinks.”

Sullivan, of course, is the head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins who has led his team to a Stanley Cup in each of the past two seasons despite turning to both goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray in both seasons.

While Pittsburgh’s goalie rotation was largely based on injury, however, it still provides an example of how using both goalies can work in the playoffs and that seems to be the path the Caps are headed on at the moment.

Said Trotz, “You just have to go with your gut who you think is going to get the job done.”