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4 reasons the Caps beat the Flyers

4 reasons the Caps beat the Flyers

Things did not start out well for the Caps on Wednesday as the Philadelphia Flyers jumped out to a 2-0 lead early in the first period. Washington battled back, however, and scored five straight goals en route to a 5-3 win in their first game back from the All-Star Break.

Here's why the Caps pulled out their first win over the Flyers this season.

Chandler Stephenson's first 2nd period shift

The Caps found themselves trailing 2-0 at the start of the second. Stephenson's first shift of the period lasted 1:03 and by the end of it, the game was tied. Stephenson scored two goals in a span of just 47 seconds to tie the game, the first multi-goal game in his NHL career. Lars Eller chased the puck down in the corner of the offensive zone to negate an icing call, then threw the puck on net from the sharp angle. It caught Flyers goalie Michal Neuvirth by surprise and hit off his pad. He went down to the butterfly, but didn't know where the puck was until Stephenson tipped it in. On the second goal, Madison Bowey threw a long-distance pass from the defensive zone up to Stephenson to catch Philadelphia on a bad change and spring a breakaway goal.

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Lars Eller putting the puck in the crease

Eller has been one of the hottest scorers on the team of late. He did not score in Wednesday's contest, but did record two primary assists by forcing the puck into the crease looking for dirty goals. Stephenson's first goal came on a hustle play by Eller who simply threw the puck at Neuvirth when he wasn't expecting it. On the second, he had the puck in the opposite corner on the power play and threw a pass to the crease that was tipped in by Andre Burakovsky.

Power play

After Stephenson tied the game at 2, the power play took over. The Caps' next two goals came on the man advantage as Washington took a 4-2 lead. The Caps would finish with two power play goals on three opportunities.

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Braden Holtby

Lost amid a two-goal first period and all the excitement of the second was just how good Holtby was. When the Caps tied the game at 2, the Flyers tried to answer right back and Holtby was called upon to make a number of key saves to keep the game tied, like this one:

Without his outstanding effort, Philadelphia could have easily reclaimed momentum and this would have been a very different game.

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D.C. artist turns her love for the Washington Capitals into works of art

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@tkopaintings on Twitter

D.C. artist turns her love for the Washington Capitals into works of art

Local artist Taylor Kampa has taken her love for the Washington Capitals and turned it into works of art. 

You can find paintings done by Kampa of Alex Ovechkin, Tom Wilson, Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie, John Carlson and Braden Holtby on display at Circa Chinatown – a restaurant neighboring Capital One Arena – along with other D.C. celebrities.

A professional artist for the last decade, Kampa told NHL.com that the pictures were "passion projects," and took about eight hours to finish. She became a fan of the Caps after she began dating her now-husband back in 2009.

Her work has even caught the eye of The Great Eight. After posting a video to Instagram of her painting Ovechkin hoisting the Stanley Cup, the Conn Smythe Trophy winner liked and commented on it. 

"I almost died," Kampa said.

"It has been amazing sharing something that I am excited about that resonates with the people in my city," Kampa said. "I've been painting these portraits for a long time, so it's awesome to have them seen by so many people."

Kampa will also create paintings for the Capitals foundation's annual Casino Night fundraiser next year. 

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Key Caps questions: Who will play center on the fourth line?

Key Caps questions: Who will play center on the fourth line?

The dog days of summer are officially here, but it's never too hot to talk some hockey.

Capitals correspondent JJ Regan is here to help you through the offseason doldrums as he discusses key questions facing the Caps for the upcoming season as Washington prepares to defend its title for the first time in franchise history.

Today's question: Who will be the team's primary fourth line center?

With the departure of Jay Beagle, there is a spot open at center on the fourth line. There appears on the roster to be three clear candidates to fill that position: Chandler Stephenson, Travis Boyd and Nic Dowd.

To find out why you should cross Stephenson’s name off the list, you should read yesterday's Key Caps Question about whether or not Stephenson is a wing or a center. To summarize, Washington sees Stephenson as more of a wing which explains why they both re-signed Boyd and brought in Dowd.

So who will it be between those two?

Both players seem to fit the mold as effective centers in the AHL where they were both productive. Dowd has an edge in NHL experience with 131 NHL games as compared to Boyd’s eight.

But Barry Trotz clearly had faith in Boyd at center which is why we saw him fill in on the top line on March 18 in Philadelphia. Boyd rewarded that faith with a spin pass to Alex Ovechkin for an assist, his first career point.

Trotz is now gone and Todd Reirden is in charge, but there is at least a level of familiarity there with the coaching staff and Boyd, more so than with Dowd who is new to the organization.

Second, the Caps may have tipped their hand a bit when you compare the two contracts. Center is an important position and Brian MacLellan has frequently referenced the team’s strength in center depth as a major reason for their Cup run.

Both Boyd and Dowd were signed over the offseason. Both contracts are one-way, suggesting both will be in the NHL, but Boyd’s cap hit is $800,000 while Dowd’s is $650,000. Of course, that will not matter when the players get on the ice. If Dowd outplays Boyd, he will start over him. Plus, the market ultimately dictates price. Even if the Caps wanted Dowd for their top line, if you can get him for $650k, you sign him for $650k.

Considering how important a position center is, however, even on the fourth line, it seems telling that the team was willing to give Boyd, a player with eight games of experience to his name, $800k while Dowd was signed for the minimum. That seems to suggest the Caps at least foresee Boyd having a bigger role which, for two players penciled in for the fourth line, would mean playing him at center.

Other key Caps questions: