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3 bold predictions: Can the Caps halt Columbus' win streak?

3 bold predictions: Can the Caps halt Columbus' win streak?

The stakes will be high on Thursday as the Columbus Blue Jackets will look to make history and extend their win streak to 17 games. All that stands in their way of tying the longest win streak in NHL history is the Washington Capitals.

 Here are three bold predictions for Thursday’s game (7 p.m., CSN).

1. The Caps will get at least 35 shots on goal

When facing a hot goalie, Washington has a tendency to start throwing pucks on net as much as possible. Against Keith Kinkaid and the New Jersey Devils on Dec. 29, for example, the Caps fired 44 shots on goal. There’s no hotter goalie in the NHL right now than Sergei Bobrovsky who has won his last 14 straight starts. Despite how well Columbus is playing, they remain in the middle of the pack in terms of shots allowed per game at 29.8. The Caps will get plenty of rubber on net, but that won’t necessarily be a good thing as Washington usually starts firing perimeter shots in these situations rather than setting up better opportunities.

WATCH TONIGHT'S GAME LIVE VIA CSN'S LIVE STREAM PAGE, COVERAGE STARTS AT 6:30 P.M.

2. Zach Werenski and Seth Jones will combine for more points than all six of the Caps’ defensemen

Washington has been getting good offensive contributions from the blue line lately, but the Blue Jackets have been more effective with Werenski and Jones. In what is his first NHL season, Werenski already has 25 points, five more than the Caps’ leading scorer on defense, John Carlson. Werenski and Jones have a combined 13 goals this season, while all seven Caps’ defenders who have played this season have only 12.

3. Alex Ovechkin will have a multi-point game with at least one goal

Ovechkin is a player who is at his best when the lights are brightest. Yes, the Caps have a shoddy record when it comes to the postseason, but Ovechkin is 3rd among active skaters in goals per game in the playoffs and 5th in points per game. Let me be clear, there is no substitution for playoff hockey. I’m not saying Thursday’s game will match the intensity or the feel of a playoff game. It won't. But one thing is clear, Ovechkin steps up in the biggest moments, even if he isn’t always able to carry the team with him.

MORE CAPITALS: Orpik among the many Capitals amped up for Jackets

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: A trip to the Stanley Cup Final is on the line

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USA TODAY Sports

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: A trip to the Stanley Cup Final is on the line

The Eastern Conference Final is going the distance!

After losing three straight to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Capitals won Game 6 to force a Game 7 in Tampa Bay. Can the Caps beat the Lightning one more time and advance to the Stanley Cup Final?

JJ Regan, Tarik El-Bashir and special guest cameraman Mike D break it all down.

 

PLEASE NOTE: Due to schedule and time constraints, this podcast was recorded by phone and the audio quality is not up to our usual standards.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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Caps push Lightning around in Game 6 with physical game plan

Caps push Lightning around in Game 6 with physical game plan

As the NHL continues to focus more on speed and skill, the Capitals took a very old-school approach to Game 6 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. From the moment the puck dropped until the clock hit zero, it was clear Washington came into Monday with a very physical game plan.

"It made a big difference," T.J. Oshie said. "I think in these games, everyone’s bringing energy and you kind of want to control that and direct it towards some positive play, some momentum building for your team, and tonight I think we handled that and did that pretty well."

"We just wanted to throw everything we had at them," Stephenson said. "It was a do or die game and we don't want our season to end."

It worked.

The scoresheet officially credited the Caps with 39 hits for the game. The Lightning had only 19. The physical play seemed to wear down Tampa Bay as the game went on.

After an even first period, Washington took a 1-0 lead in the second. Then, very fittingly, a physical fourth line extended that lead to 2-0 in the third to finish the Lightning off.

"All of a sudden now we turn a puck over, you’re back in your end, they’re feeling it, they’re being physical, crowd’s behind them and we’re spending way too much time in our D zone," Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper said. "That’s what hurt us."

What made it so effective was the fact that the entire team bought into it. Alex Ovechkin was certainly the most noticeable player as he threw himself around like a wrecking ball against everyone wearing a white jersey. But it was not just his line. Tom Wilson and Brooks Orpik each led the team with six hits, Devante Smith-Pelly recorded five of his own while Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom both had four.

The Lightning faced a constant barrage from the Caps from every line and defensive pair. There was no respite.

The hits also gave the fans plenty to cheer for.

The Caps were playing an elimination game at home and Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy was standing on his head. Even with the score locked at 0-0 through the first period, the crowd was still very much into the game. There was no apprehension, there was no quiet tension. There was just a loud crowd cheering on its team.

"[The fans] were loud right from the start, which I think we fed off of and wanted to give them something back," Brooks Orpik said. "We didn't get a goal early. I think some of the physical play kind of helped carry that. They were great for us."

Now in the third round of the playoffs after six intense games between the Caps and Lightning, the hope is that Game 6's physical play will continue to take its toll on Tampa Bay heading into Game 7.

"We need to do that every game," Nicklas Backstrom said. "That's our forecheck. Hopefully, we can keep it going here in Game 7."

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