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With the World Cup down to two teams, the Caps are getting closer to full strength

With the World Cup down to two teams, the Caps are getting closer to full strength

Seven of the Capitals’ 10 World Cup of Hockey participants should be at Kettler Capitals Iceplex by Thursday after Nicklas Backstrom and Sweden were eliminated in the semifinals Sunday afternoon.

Two of the Capitals’ three USA representatives—Matt Niskanen and T.J. Oshie—rejoined their Washington teammates for Sunday's training camp practice. John Carlson will be on the ice Monday.

Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov, meanwhile, are scheduled to return Wednesday. Russia was bounced Saturday night by Canada.

“It’ll set up nice for them,” associate coach Todd Reirden said, referring to Ovechkin and Co. “So when they get back, they can practice Wednesday [and] Thursday, and we’ll have an off day on Friday. That’ll allow them to get back in the swing of things with us here and be able to get the rest that they need to set them up for the start of the [regular season].”

Asked about getting the Capitals' stars back on the ice, Reirdern said: “It’s great. …Just in terms of execution and energy, it was good to have [Oshie and Niskanen] back out there. They’re in a really good state of mind in terms of what’s going on here. And we feel like we have a good plan for them moving forward.”      

Backstrom will be the next player to return. He's expected back Thursday after Sweden lost to Europe, 3-2, in overtime.

It's going to be a longer stay in Toronto for Canada's Braden Holtby and Barry Trotz as well as for Europe's Philipp Grubauer. The best-of-three finals begin Tuesday and could go until Saturday. After the World Cup champion has been crowned, the remaining Capitals' participants will get a travel day and two days off before being required to report to camp.

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3 reasons the Caps beat the Red Wings


3 reasons the Caps beat the Red Wings

Not much separated the Washington Capitals and the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday. A late 2-on-0 goal for Brett Connolly proved to be the difference.

Here's why the Caps ultimately walked away with the 1-0 win.

A first period goalie interference call

Andreas Athanasiou thought he had given the Red Wings a first period lead, but Barry Trotz challenged the call for goalie interference. The review showed that Tyler Bertuzzi clipped Philipp Grubauer in the head with an elbow right before the shot went in. Given how long it took the Caps to get going in this game, it is fair to say an early deficit would have been hard to overcome.


Killing off a full two-minute 5-on-3

Two man advantages are hard to kill. Killing off a full two-minutes at 5-on-3, that's a tall task. With the game still scoreless in the second period, T.J. Oshie and Lars Eller were both assessed penalties giving Detroit two-full minutes at 5-on-3. The Red Wings managed four shots on goal, but Washington was able to successfully kill off the penalty and keep the game scoreless.

Philipp Grubauer

There were few players who had strong efforts on Tuesday, but Grubauer was phenomenal. Even when the game felt sleepy in the first two periods, Detroit still managed 28 shots on goal, all of which were turned aside by the German netminder. When Washington finally took the lead in the third, the Red Wings woke up and began pushing the offense, but Grubauer was in the zone at that point and could not be beaten. His best save came in the third period when he stared down a breakaway from Athanasiou and extended the pad to deny the shot.


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Tarik's 3 stars: Grubauer, Caps shut down the Red Wings


Tarik's 3 stars: Grubauer, Caps shut down the Red Wings

It wasn’t pretty but the Caps eventually got what they needed in Detroit: two points.  

After a sleepy first 40 minutes, Brett Connolly scored midway through the third period and then Philipp Grubauer made sure it stood up at Little Caesars Arena, where Washington eked out a 1-0 victory Thursday over the scuffling Red Wings.

Tarik’s three stars of the game:

1-Philipp Grubauer, Capitals

For much of the game, Grubi was left to fend for himself. Good thing for the Caps he was up to the task. The German netminder, who has been one of the NHL’s top goaltenders since Thanksgiving, turned aside 39 shots, including three stops on a pivotal 5-on-3 penalty kill in the second period.

2-Brett Connolly, Capitals

The Caps didn’t get many Grade-A opportunities vs. Jimmy Howard. But Connolly buried one of the few they got…on a 2-on-0, set up by Jakub Vrana in the third period. Connolly’s goal was his 15th of the season in his 63rd game, equaling the career-high he set a year ago in 66 contests. Vrana, meantime, has three goals and five assists since getting scratched 12 games ago.

3-Lars Eller, Capitals

Eller didn’t record a point, but he was all over the puck in Motown. The veteran center finished with a game-high six shots on net. He also had a key backcheck against Darren Helm, on a shorthanded breakaway, in the first period. Eller was good in the dot, too, winning eight of 12 faceoffs.

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