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Capitals look to continue hot streak against Red Wings

Capitals look to continue hot streak against Red Wings

The Capitals conclude a brief two-game homestand Friday afternoon against the Detroit Red Wings at Capital One Arena (4 p.m., NBC Sports Washington). Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie (upper-body injuries) are not expected to play for the fourth game in a row. Washington (11-7-3, 25 points) has won four of its past five games. The Caps did not hold a morning skate on Friday. 

Here are four things to watch:

Backstrom Watch

Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom hits almost as many milestones as Alex Ovechkin these days. He recorded his 200th goal last season, his 600th assist and 800th point this season. Now, he is just three points shy of passing Peter Bondra for second place on the franchise point list. Backstrom has 823 points. Bondra finished his Capitals’ career with 825. Backstrom has 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in his past 10 games.

Winging It

Detroit’s record might look mediocre, but considering their brutal start to the year it’s downright respectable. The Red Wings were 1-7-2 on Oct. 27. Since then they are 9-2 and have climbed the standings in the Atlantic Division. Detroit has allowed two goals or fewer in six of its past seven. Goalie Jimmy Howard is 6-1-0 in his past seven starts with a .936 save percentage. 

Wilsonnnnn!!!!

Since his return from a 16-game suspension, Capitals right wing Tom Wilson has two goals and four assists in five games. It is the first time he has posted at least one point in four of five games during the regular season. Wilson has done that once in the playoffs – last year in the first three games of the Pittsburgh second-round series and the first two games of the Eastern Conference Final against Tampa Bay. (one goal, five assists). That stretch was interrupted, of course, by a three-game suspension during the Pittsburgh series.  

More Milestones

Alex Ovechkin needs one power-play goal to pass Mario Lemieux (236) and tie Brendan Shanahan (237) for sixth-place on the all-time NHL list. Ovechkin (622 goals) also needs just three more goals to tie Joe Sakic (625) and Jarome Iginla (625) for 16th all time. Ovechkin has 15 goals this season, which is second in the NHL behind Boston forward David Pastrnak. 

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Tom Wilson puts on a show in his hometown to lead Capitals over Toronto

Tom Wilson puts on a show in his hometown to lead Capitals over Toronto

Tom Wilson's two-point night including the shorthanded game-winner as the Capitals held on for a 3-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs Thursday. The win was Washington's third on their six-game road trip, which concludes Saturday in Buffalo.

Here are four reasons Washington won.

1. Braden Holtby’s first period

After the first period, it looked like we were going to have a goalie duel. Frederik Andersen looked absolutely brilliant to start and the Caps needed Holtby to be equally brilliant to keep Washington in it. He was.

Holtby made 12 of his 40 saves in the opening frame, including an absolute beauty to rob Patrick Marleau. Andersen robbed Michal Kempny and Nicklas Backstrom on one end of the ice and Toronto picked up the puck off the rebound for a quick 2-on-1 counter. Kasperi Kapanen fed Marleau beautifully, but Holtby stretched out to make the spectacular save with the blocker. A few minutes later, Holtby made a quick pad save on a William Nylander backhand, then recovered just in time to deny Connor Brown on the rebound attempt.

Because of Holtby’s efforts, both teams went to the locker room locked in a 0-0 tie.

2. Alex Ovechkin draws a penalty, scores the power play goal

Morgan Rielly does not take many penalties. Heading into Thursday’s game, Rielly had taken only two minor penalties all season, which is pretty remarkable when you think about a top defenseman averaging 22:43 of ice time per game.

In the second period, however, Ovechkin managed to draw a hold on Rielly. When you get a team’s top defenseman in the box, you need to take advantage. The Caps did just that off a quick play off a faceoff.

T.J. Oshie won the draw back to John Carlson. As soon as the draw was taken, Ovechkin backed away towards the top of the opposite faceoff circle. Toronto was slow to setup the defense, so when Carlson fed Ovechkin for the one-timer, he had an open shooting lane on net. Ovechkin delivered a fadeaway one-timer from above the circle and beat Andersen glove side.

3. A key forecheck by Tom Wilson

Brett Connolly made a nice play in front of the net to deke around the stretched pad of Andersen and backhand the puck into the open goal. Wilson made that play happen, however, with a great forecheck.

Jake Gardiner went to recover the puck behind the goal line in the defensive zone, but Wilson came streaking in like a freight train and knocked Gardiner off the puck. Lars Eller pounced on the loose puck and fed Connolly in front of the net. He did the rest.

4. The Tom Wilson shorthanded exclamation point

Washington carried a 2-0 lead into the third period and looked to be the better team, but a goal form Andreas Johnsson put the Maple Leafs right back in it. The ice was definitely tilting in Toronto’s favor and less than 90 seconds after Johnsson scored, John Carlson took a hooking penalty.

With the game on the line, however, the penalty kill delivered.

Holtby made a kick-out save and two Leafs went after the rebound, but Brooks Orpik made a key stick lift on Mitch Marner and Eller beat Johnsson to the puck and had a lane for the breakout. Wilson turned on the jets and hustled out of the zone to try to catch up with Eller for the 2-on-1. He got there just in time and Eller delivered the pass to him just past the blue line. Wilson took aim and fired a wrister past Andersen to end any hopes for a comeback.

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Capitals fan finishes late wife's dream of watching DC at every NHL arena

Capitals fan finishes late wife's dream of watching DC at every NHL arena

To watch the entire video, click "play" in the video player above.

Capitals fan Greg Christian and his late wife, Dona, made a plan to watch their favorite team at every NHL arena. Greg finally achieved that goal.

Gred attended the Caps' tilt with the Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena on Jan. 23, taking with him a picture of Dona sporting a Hockey Fights Cancer jersey.

Greg and his wife were long-time Caps fans, and spent road trips talking about hockey and sports. They were soon inspired to follow the Caps on the road and make it to every possible venue to watch them play.

However, those plans would be interrupted in April 2017, when Dona was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. The two made it to 34 NHL venues together before she passed away in November, last taking in a Caps game at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, according to the Washington Post.

The two have now seen Washington play at 36 venues, including two past arenas and three stadiums. And once Seattle gets an NHL franchise, Greg told WUSA9 he plans to be in attendance.

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