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Will Nate Schmidt's play keep him in the Caps' lineup?

Will Nate Schmidt's play keep him in the Caps' lineup?

Karl Alzner skated for a second straight day on Thursday, though it remains unclear when the Capitals defenseman will be ready to return to the lineup.

He’s missed the last two games with an upper body injury.

“Day to day,” Trotz when asked about Alzner’s recovery.

Alzner took a twirl at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, but there was no contact involved. He was joined on the ice by only a handful of teammates.

RELATED: Trotz surprised by disallowed goal after Andersen grabbed Backstrom

If there is a silver lining to losing a big-minute blue liner in the postseason, it's this: thanks to Nate Schmidt's outstanding play the past two games, the Caps have the luxury of allowing Alzner all the time he needs.

Since entering the lineup in Game 3, Schmidt has been on the ice for five of the Capitals’ eight goals. Conversely, he’s only been on the ice for one Leafs’ goal—and the puck hit him in the visor before going to Auston Matthews in Monday’s game. 

Schmidt's plus-4 rating leads the Caps.

In addition, Schmidt has two assists, which is tied for the most among the Caps’ blue liners (in half the games). He also skated 45 seconds on the critical 5-on-3 penalty kill to start the third period in Game 4.

It's a small sample size and Alzner has been a big part of the Caps for a long time. But it begs the question: If Schmidt continues to play well, will he put the Caps’ coaching staff in a tough spot when Alzner is healthy?

Trotz wasn’t ready to go there on Thursday.

“We’ll see when he’s ready to play what our status on defense is,” is all the coach would offer up

Check out the latest edition of the Capitals Faceoff Podcast!

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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.