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Ryan Reaves avoids suspension for late hit that knocked Tom Wilson out of game

Ryan Reaves avoids suspension for late hit that knocked Tom Wilson out of game

Vegas Golden Knights forward Ryan Reaves was ejected from Tuesday’s game for a late hit to Tom Wilson, but he will not face any supplemental discipline from the league for that hit. 

The Washington Post's Isabelle Khurshudyan was the first to report the news.

In the second period of Tuesday’s game, Reaves delivered a late shoulder hit to Wilson whose head was turned to face the puck. The hit caught Wilson off-guard and knocked him down causing his head to hit the ice violently. He had to be helped off the ice and did not return.

Reaves was issued a five-minute major and a game misconduct for interference, but that will be the extent of the punishment he receives.

The news will have Caps fans crying foul after seeing Wilson handed a lengthy 14-game suspension (knocked down from 20) for a hit he delivered to St. Louis Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist in the preseason. The Sundqvist hit and Reaves’ hit on Wilson, however, is not an apples to apples comparison considering Wilson’s head was not the principal point of contact. Reaves’ hit was late – though only slightly by the NHL’s standards – and looked worse than it was due to the fact that Wilson was an unsuspecting target.

A more accurate comparison to Tuesday’s hit would be the one Wilson delivered to New Jersey Devils forward Brett Seney on Friday.

Both hits were late, they did not contact the head and came against unsuspecting players. Wilson was also ejected for the hit to Seney but did not receive any further discipline.

Wilson was declared out for the remainder of Tuesday’s game with an upper-body injury. Todd Reirden said after the game he would be reevaluated on Wednesday. As Wednesday is a day off for the team, however, there have been no further updates on the Caps’ forward or on his availability for Thursday’s game against the Arizona Coyotes.

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Journey to the Cup: It's tough to play with a target on your back

Journey to the Cup: It's tough to play with a target on your back

There are many clichés in the world of sports. Some become so overused that people forget just how true they actually are. One such cliché the Capitals had to deal with heading into the 2018-19 season was playing with a target on their back as the defending Stanley Cup champions.

It’s not as if the Caps were not aware teams would be gunning for them, but perhaps they did not know how much this would ring true every night.

While Washington did return the majority of its championship roster for the new season, there were also a few growing pains the team faced with a new head coach in Todd Reirden, a new backup goalie in Pheonix Copley and Tom Wilson’s suspension.

As a result, a Caps team that has been defined largely by its regular season dominance over the past decade and limped out to a 7-6-3 start, barely above .500.

Washington did not earn consecutive wins until the first week of November and sat tied for fifth in the division with 17 points in 16 games.

What the Caps did have going for them, however, was the power play. Washington ranked second in the NHL with a whopping 31.5-percent on the power play and that made the team’s top players rake in the stats.

Through 16 games, Evgeny Kuznetsov had 20 points and looked to be every bit the Hart Trophy candidate many hoped he would be after his strong postseason. Alex Ovechkin had 12 goals and 19 points. Nicklas Backstrom and John Carlson had 19 and 18 points respectively.

The Caps found out in the first six weeks of the season just how hard it was going to be to repeat. It wasn’t just about getting through the regular season to the playoffs, it was about surviving the regular season each night with every team playing at their best to try to knock off the champs.

It was a hard lesson, but one the team had to learn.

Check out episode 2 of Journey to the Cup on NBCsportsWashington.com or on the MyTeams App at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday.

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With a chance to extend Maple Leafs' losing streak, Caps look for a measure of retribution

With a chance to extend Maple Leafs' losing streak, Caps look for a measure of retribution

The low point of the Capitals’ season came on Jan. 23. That night, the Toronto Maple Leafs handed Washington a 6-3 defeat to send them into the All-Star break with seven straight losses.

When it comes to players that Caps fans consider to be villains, most of those players reside in the Metropolitan Division. Nazem Kadri, however, is an exception.

Kadri always plays Washington tough, but he earned the ire of Caps fans in 2017 when the two teams met in the playoffs. Kadri delivered a hit to the knee of Alex Ovechkin causing an injury that hampered Ovechkin for the remainder of the postseason.

So it really stung when Kadri delivered a hat trick performance to finish off the Caps in January.

Kadri suffered a concussion in Toronto’s game on Tuesday and is unlikely to play Thursday when the Caps visit the Maple Leafs (7 p.m., NBC Sports Washington), but even if he does not play, it still will feel just as sweet for Washington and their faithful to deliver Toronto their third straight loss just one month after the Leafs delivered the Caps with their seventh.

CAPITALS vs. MAPLE LEAFS GAME NOTES

All Hands on Deck

The Caps have had two extra forwards for the majority of the season, but with Devante Smith-Pelly clearing waivers, the Caps are down a spare. That spare appears to be Dmitrij Jaskin who was on the ice for morning skate despite rumors that he could be traded.

That leaves Washington with a fourth line of Chandler Stephenson, Nic Dowd and Travis Boyd.

The only other lineup change for the Caps from Monday’s game is that Braden Holtby will get the start.

Swing Game?

The Caps are 2-2-0 through four games of their six-game road trip. A win Thursday will guarantee at least six out of a possible 12 points and the possibility of getting eight on Saturday in Buffalo. A loss on Thursday, however, and Washington will have to win Saturday just to salvage a .500 record for the trip.

Watching the Standings

The New York Islanders suffered a regulation loss on Wednesday which will give the Caps a chance to gain some ground. Washington trails the Islanders by just three points in the standings, though New York has a game in hand.

The Caps also need the points to keep some distance between them and the Pittsburgh Penguins who sit two points behind Washington.

Both the Islanders and Penguins will be in action on Thursday as well.

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