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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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Alex Ovechkin challenges Ilya Kovalchuk, Evgeni Malkin to shave while in isolation

Alex Ovechkin challenges Ilya Kovalchuk, Evgeni Malkin to shave while in isolation

While we all focus on social distancing and staying at home to prevent the spread of coronavirus, this difficult time has basically given us a license to take time off from shaving. 

Don't tell that to Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin, who has seemingly started a new shaving challenge on Instagram with his wife, Nastya (music NSFW). 

As Ovechkin goes for the clean shave with Nastya dancing by his side, the caption translates to him challenging fellow Russian hockey stars Ilya Kovalchuk and Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin. 

Neither player has considerable facial hair, but credit to Ovechkin finding another way to keep busy during isolation. Even if he's fraternizing with a Penguin. 

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With NHL season paused, a ranking of Capitals' best wins of 2019-20: No. 4

With NHL season paused, a ranking of Capitals' best wins of 2019-20: No. 4

While we wait for the NHL to hopefully resume its season, NBC Sports Washington is looking back at the 20 best wins of the Capitals' season so far. Mark Zaner, producer for Caps Faceoff Live and Caps Overtime Live, has watched every game. His rankings continue with No. 4, a 5-2 win over the New Jersey Devils on Jan. 16 that featured a bloodied Alex Ovechkin getting revenge against the Devils and Braden Holtby getting a fancy new hat. 

WHAT HAPPENED 

Ovechkin made his presence felt in the first period. He scored on a blistering one-timer during a 5-on-3 power play to get the Caps on the board first. Then with less than a minute remaining, after Nicklas Backstrom won an offensive zone draw, Ovechkin picked up the loose puck and fired a wrister that Louis Domingue never saw. 

  

Just 16 seconds in the second period, Ovechkin got some help. Lars Eller’s forecheck forced New Jersey into a turnover. Eller and Richard Panik eventually found Carl Hagelin in front of the net for the easy score. Hagelin’s goal came on Cory Schneider, who replaced Domingue at intermission. 

  

Despite being dead last in the Metro Division, the Devils didn’t roll over. Wayne Simmonds scored less than a minute after Hagelin’s goal. Blake Coleman scored shorthanded for his 19th of the season early in the third period to make it 3-2. 

Order was eventually restored. Jakub Vrana took advantage of a bad clearing attempt by Pavel Zacha and snuck one through Schneider. And at the 15:42 mark, the Capitals put the game away for good. Tom Wilson made one of the best passes of the season right to Ovechkin on the doorstep. Washington wins 5-2. 

  

MEMORABLE MOMENTS 

This was Ovechkin’s second hat trick of the season. It looked like it would be a rough night early on for the Captain. On one of his first shifts of the night, Ovechkin took a high stick from Miles Wood that drew blood. Ovi spent most of the period getting stitched up in the dressing room. He returned to the game just in time to score two goals in the final five minutes of the period. Don’t make Ovechkin angry, you won’t like him when he’s angry. 

  

Ilya Samsonov continued a brilliant stretch of games. He made one of the more remarkable saves of his young career. 

  

WHY IT WAS SIGNIFICANT 

Just five days earlier, the Caps hosted New Jersey and lost 5-1. It was arguably their worst game of the season. Washington didn’t take the Devils lightly in this contest and got a much needed two points with the All-Star break looming. 

Ovechkin scored career goals 687, 688 and 689. That put him one behind Mario Lemieux for 10th place on the all-time scoring list. He would jump Super Mario less than 48 hours later. 
 
WHAT WE WERE TALKING ABOUT 

When throwing hats on the ice, fans usually just chuck cheap baseball caps and toques. This is the first time I can remember someone throwing a women’s fedora on the ice. 

  

Braden Holtby pulls off the look well. The whole incident begs the question: who wears a fedora to a hockey game? 

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