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Winnik quickly adjusting to big role with Caps


Winnik quickly adjusting to big role with Caps

Daniel Winnik knows the drill. Three times in the past five years he’s been traded before the NHL trade deadline -- to San Jose in 2012, to Pittsburgh in 2015 and to the Capitals earlier this week.

“Obviously, teams want him and value what he does,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “The one thing that’s tough when you’re a rental player, it’s hard to be fully engaged sometimes.

“Sometimes some guys are really good at acclimating and getting fully engaged. I talked to him and said, ‘You’re not a ‘rental.’ You’ve got another year on your contract. You’re back here (next season), so get acclimated, get fully engaged.

“We have a good opportunity and a good team to possibly do something in the post-season. I just want him to make sure he’s not a rental player.”

Winnik’s ice time in his first two games as a Capital certainly suggests he is not a rental. He logged 13:09 in the Capitals’ 3-2 win over the Maple Leafs Wednesday night while playing on a fourth line with Jay Beagle (13:52) and Mike Richards (14:11). And in Friday night’s 3-2 loss to the Rangers Winnik played 12:32, while Richards logged 12:41 and Beagle 11:00

“They were outstanding,” Trotz said. “I would not want to play (against) that line a lot.”

Beagle said he’s surprised at how quickly the experienced trio has come together.

“We’re all fairly new,” he said. “I’m just getting used to Richie, and Winnik comes in and it’s about getting minutes and finding chemistry and I thought we were reading off each other real well.”

Winnik said he thought a he played “a little more cautious” and more defensive on Wednesday than he did on Friday.

“I think that was more because I was playing my old team,” he said, “and I didn’t want to lose to them or get scored on against. Hopefully, it progresses and the games go on and I’ll be a little more aggressive in the offensive zone.”

Off the ice, Winnik has spent his first three nights in Washington in a hotel and will go apartment hunting with his wife when she joins him following the Caps’ weeklong road trip that begins in Boston on Saturday and continues with visits to Anahein, Los Angeles San Jose.

“That’s proven to be a little hard,” Winnik said, “for short-term rental around here.”

Winnik, who will be counted on for his penalty killing, said it’s nice to know that for the next year or so he won’t have to lay down to block a power-play blast by new teammate Alex Ovechkin.

He also likes the idea of letting his facial hair grow after conforming to Lou Lamoriello’s policy as a member of the Maple Leafs.  

“I do, yeah,” Winnik said. “I’m not going to lie. It’s just how Lou operates his teams. It’s not really a written team rule, but everyone just knows you can’t have a beard and long hair and everyone complies.”

MORE CAPITALS: This may not be the last of Caps-Rangers

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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.