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Third line excels in Caps win over Montreal


Third line excels in Caps win over Montreal

WASHINGTON — If you're keeping Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie off the scoresheet, you're doing something right, but the Caps are not just one line and they showed that again on Saturday in a 3-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens.

Evgeny Kuznetsov scored the opening goal and then the third line of Jason Chimera, Jay Beagle and Tom Wilson took over from there.

"I thought they were the best line," head coach Barry Trotz said. "They had lots of zone time, they were good on face offs, they had some good looks and they were physical."

When is Wilson not physical?

Wilson showed off the physical presence again with a first period fight against Jarred Tinordi, son of former Cap Mark Tinordi. Wilson provided much more than just a five minute penalty, however, with two assists on the night, including a phenomenal drop pass to Beagle in the second period to set up what became the game-winning goal.

"I had good speed and their D made a bad read," Wilson said. "I got behind him and they were all back-checking. That's all credit to Beags on that goal. He comes over, he communicates, calls for the puck, I look up and once he was in a great spot I just get him the puck."

RELATED: Ovechkin takes slap shot to the arm

The goal put the Caps up 2-0, and they would need it as Daniel Carr scored just 24 seconds later to put Montreal on the board, but that would be as close as the Canadiens would come. Chimera extended the lead back to two goals in the third as he turned a harmless looking dump-in into a mini breakaway.

"I don't think I've ever seen Chimmer skate so fast and that's saying a lot because he blew right by their guy on that goal," Wilson said. "It was pretty fun to watch."

The third line's efforts did not go unnoticed as Beagle and Wilson were named the game's first and second stars respectively.

"We were kind of joking around how we didn't sweep the podium on the stars there," Wilson said. "I think Chimmer felt a little left out."

It's all smiles in the Caps dressing room now as the team is in the midst of a seven-game winning streak and sits atop the Eastern Conference standings.

If you were to put a finger on what it is that has made the Caps so dangerous over that stretch, the answer would be that there is no one answer. When they need a big game from Braden Holtby, they get it. When Ovechkin needs to be the hero, he is. But even on nights like Saturday when the team needs someone else to be the hero, the third line was there to answer the call.

That depth and versatility is what makes the Caps so dangerous.

"This team relies on different people to contribute," Trotz said, "and when there's an extra goal or two from the third line—tonight we get two—it makes us even more dangerous when those guys are contributing."

MORE CAPITALS: Caps stay hot with win over skidding Montreal

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3 reasons the Caps beat the Stars

3 reasons the Caps beat the Stars

The Washington Capitals had not beaten the Dallas Stars at home since 2006, Alex Ovechkin's second season in the NHL. That streak ended on Tuesday in a 4-3 Caps win.

Here's how the Caps were finally able to down Dallas in Washington.

Oshie still hot

After going 19 straight games without a goal, T.J. Oshie has been red-hot of late with four goals in his last four games. He scored Washington’s first goal in what would become a three-goal period for the Caps as they battled back from a 1-0 deficit into a 3-3 tie through 40 minutes. Oshie also added an assist as he won a power play faceoff that John Carlson fed to Alex Ovechkin for the goal.


Ovechkin victimizing his favorite target

You knew Ovechkin would score given he was playing against one of his favorite targets. With his second period goal, Ovechkin now has 22 goals against Kari Lehtonen in his career, tied with Henrik Lundqvist for the most goals he has scored on any netminder. Lehtonen has not been in the Eastern Conference since the 2008-09 season. When he goes to sleep at night, Ovechkin is who he sees in his nightmares.

The Carlson-Klingberg duel

Carlson and John Klingberg entered Tuesday’s game each with 59 points, tied for the league lead in points among defensemen. Carlson downplayed the matchup both before and after the game, but it was clear that both players were playing at another level all game long. While both players tallied two points on the night, you have to give the win to Carlson as he had the most significant point, a game-winning goal in the third period.


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Tarik's 3 Stars: Ovechkin further cements his place in history

Tarik's 3 Stars: Ovechkin further cements his place in history

Alex Ovechkin further cemented his place in NHL history, John Carlson stayed hot and Braden Holtby was good when called upon as the Caps downed the Stars, 4-3, at Capital One Arena on Tuesday night.

The victory was Washington’s fifth in the past six games. It also marked the Caps’ first win over Dallas in D.C. since 2006.

Tarik’s three stars of the game:

1-Alex Ovechkin, Capitals

Ovechkin scored his 44th goal of the season and the 602nd of his career in the second period to give the Caps a short-lived 3-2 edge in the second period.

The goal put Ovi back atop the league as he seeks a seventh Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy. It also pushed him past Jari Karri and into sole possession of 19th place on the NHL’s all-time list. Ovechkin has now victimized Kari Lehtonen 22 times, which is tied for the most goals he’s scored against a single netminder. (Henrik Lundqvist has also given up 22 goals to No. 8). Ovi also had a couple of secondary helpers.

2-John Carlson, Capitals

Carlson scored the game-winner 4:59 with left to play, blasting a one-timer past Lehtonen to put the Caps ahead 4-3.

Carlson also notched an assist, which allowed him to stay even with Dallas’ John Klingberg. Klingberg had two assists. Both players ended the game with 61 points—tied for the most among all NHL defensemen.    

3-Alexander Radulov, Stars

From his first shift, it was apparent that Radulov was determined to leave his mark on the game. And he did just that, recording a goal, an assist and boarding minor that bloodied Caps defenseman Michal Kempny. Radulov’s goal—a redirection of a John Klingberg shot—was his 26th and it evened the score, 2-2, in the second period.

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