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Ryan Reaves' game-tying goal never should have counted

Ryan Reaves' game-tying goal never should have counted

The Capitals took an early lead in the third period in Game 1 on Monday, but it was short-lived as Ryan Reaves tied the score at 4 just 91 seconds later. That goal proved to be the turning point of the game as the Vegas Golden Knights would never trail again in a 6-4 win over the Caps.

There's just one problem: Reaves' critical, game-tying goal should never have counted.

Reaves positioned himself at the top of the crease and found a window with which to shoot as he roofed the puck past Braden Holtby. He found that window by blatantly cross-checking John Carlson to the ice just moments before he got the puck.

You can watch the play here:

That's a cross-check. And not only is it a cross-check, it happens in the middle of the play and absolutely should have been caught by one of the two on-ice officials.

Carlson was seen complaining to the refs after the play. Reaves was asked about it by Pierre McGuire after the game and said, “I saw it as a goal, I don’t care what [Carlson] thinks. I mean, puck’s in the back of the net, tie game.”

Barry Trotz obviously saw it differently.

NBCSN analyst Mike Milbury was particularly critical of the no-call as he said, "It's just unforgivable. You've got two officials ... you have to make the call. It's the turning point of the game."

It is typical in the playoffs for the referees to "put away the whistles" and avoid making penalty calls so as not to influence the game. But you're still influencing the game by not calling an obvious, blatant penalty especially when that penalty leads to a goal.

We can all see the referees made a mistake now, but that will serve as no consolation for the Caps who now find themselves trailing 1-0 in the series in no small part because of the no-call on Reaves.

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CAPITALS EXTRA PODCAST: GAME 1 IN VEGAS

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Capitals and Bruins put on a show worthy of Stanley Cup playoffs

Capitals and Bruins put on a show worthy of Stanley Cup playoffs

WASHINGTON — There are only a handful of nights like Wednesday during the course of an NHL season. 
 
Players and coaches grind their way through 82 games with one running into the next. Sometimes, for the very best teams, the Stanley Cup playoffs can seem like a desert mirage off in the far distance. 
 
The Capitals and Bruins reminded us what the spring will bring during Washington’s 3-2 win on Wednesday. The NHL’s two best teams gave us physical play, great goaltending and world-class skill all in one wildly entertaining package. 
 
“No matter where you are in the standings, games against those teams, Boston, Tampa, games like that, in a way they are measuring stick games,” Capitals forward T.J. Oshie said. “You want to see how you measure up to what they are bringing that particular year or that particular time during the season. Tonight was no different.”
 
Oshie scored twice – one after a spectacular inside-out move that stands as Washington’s goal of the year so far. John Carlson continued piling up the points with an assist and the game-winning goal in the third period off a pass from Nicklas Backstrom. 
 
These Capitals, playing against a Bruins team that came within a game of the Stanley Cup last season, continue to show they measure up. The roster has turned over some, but the fight hasn’t gone out of the 2018 championship team yet. 
 
“The crowd was into it a little bit more than your average game,” Carlson said. “I think both teams were flying around, going that extra step to hit someone all the time and that sort of thing. It was a fun game, it was fun to play in. Still not playoffs.”
 
No, not yet. Carlson has been through all this before. He has played on three teams that won the Presidents’ Trophy (2009-10, 2015-16, 2016-07) and none of them made it out of the second round of the playoffs. 
 
The Capitals are just happy to be where they are, now five points clear of Boston for the NHL’s best record and with a nine-point lead in the Metropolitan Division over the New York Islanders and the rest of their rivals. 
 
But they know none of it will matter in mid-April. The slate gets wiped clean and they will have to beat the Islanders or the Hurricanes or the Flyers or maybe the Penguins – isn’t it always the Penguins - four times in seven games. And then they’d have do it again with one of those teams in the second round. Only then would they even get a crack at these Bruins - or maybe the Tampa Bay Lightning - once more in the Eastern Conference Final. 
 
There are still 49 games to go before all of that and upsets are a fact of life in the playoffs so you might as well enjoy the journey to get there. So far, Washington (23-5-5, 51 points) is off to the second-best start in team history through 33 games. 
 
Only the 2015-16 Presidents’ Trophy winner was better at 25-6-2 with 52 points. That group also led the Islanders by nine points in the Metro Division race at this point in the season. It’s a comfortable place to be and a nice cushion for the endless, cold nights of winter when illness or injuries strike and the schedule wears you down and you lose a couple of games in a row and frustration sets in. 
 
That will happen at some point for these Capitals. It’s inevitable over the course of a long season. But if Wednesday tells them anything, it’s that they still have that reserve of confidence to rally even against the very best teams in the league. 
 
Down 2-1 in the second period, Oshie banged home his own rebound when left alone in front. And 3:30 later he undressed the Boston defense and beat goalie Jaroslav Halak with a backhand roof shot that left the crowd unhinged and Washington ahead.  
 
It wasn’t an easy game. The Capitals had to kill five Boston power plays and their video department helped save the game by getting a Bruins goal overturned on replay after a missed offsides call. That kept the score 1-0. Washington might “own” Boston at 16-1 in the past 17 games, but no one thinks that would mean much in any playoff series. Instead, nights like this are a dress rehearsal for the games that matter most. 
 
“Our team usually plays better against teams like that, teams that work hard, play an honest, hard game structurally,” goalie Braden Holtby said. “It's fun for us to play in those games, especially in the regular season. It kind of feels more like a playoff style. We've been fortunate to have success, but there's been a lot of real close games against them the last little bit, games that make us better in the long run."

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Capitals at Lightning: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

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Capitals at Lightning: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

After winning in a thriller on Wednesday over the Boston Bruins, the Capitals look to make it two wins in a row and five of their last six when they travel to Tampa on Saturday to face the Lightning.

Earlier this season, the Capitals edged the Lightning 4-3 in an overtime thriller, a contest that saw Washington come back from a 3-1 third period deficit.

Washington currently leads the Eastern Conference with 51 points, while a slow start to 2019 leaves the Lightning with just 33.

Here's how to catch the action. 

Capitals-Lightning: How to Watch

What: Game 34 of the NHL regular season

Who: Washington Capitals at Tampa Bay Lightning

When: Wednesday, December 14, 2019, at 7 p.m.

Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida

TV Channel: Capitals-Lightning game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports channel finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Lightning on NBC Sports live stream page.

Radio: Caps Radio 24/7

Capitals-Lightning TV Schedule

6:00 PM: Caps FaceOff Live

6:30 PM: Caps Pregame Live

7:00 PM: Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

9:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live

Capitals-Bruins Lightning Injury Report

Capitals: None

Lightning: Braydon Coburn, D (lower body, out indefinitely)

Capitals-Lightning Players to Watch

T.J. Oshie, W, Capitals: Oshie dazzled in the Caps victory on Wednesday, finishing with a pair of goals, including this beauty. After not scoring in the four games prior, Oshie will look to continue his hot hand into Saturday's contest against Tampa.

Steven Stamkos, C, Lightning: After a six-game stretch without scoring, Stamkos has found the back of the net four times in the past three games. He'll look to avenge a pointless showing that he had during the Lightning's November loss to Washington.

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