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Big night for Kuznetov as Caps beat Bruins 3-2

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Big night for Kuznetov as Caps beat Bruins 3-2

Post-game analysis of the Capitals’ 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins Tuesday night in TD Garden:

How it happened: Evgeny Kuznetsov set up a first-period goal by Andre Burakovsky and netted a power-play goal in the second period and Braden Holtby stopped 25 of 27 shots to lead the Caps to their first win of 2016 and end a two-game losing streak.

What it means: The Caps (29-7-3) won for the first time since Dec. 30 and moved ahead of the Dallas Stars atop the NHL standings with 61 points. The Stars lost for the third straight time, making the Caps the only team in the NHL without back-to-back regulation losses.

Kuz-tastic: Kuznetsov now has nine points (4 goals, 5 assists) in his past eight games and has matched last season’s total of 37 points. Kuznetsov is on pace to lead the Caps with 77 points (27 goals, 50 assists) this season.

"I think the whole team has bigger points, right? I don't care about my game," Kuznetsov told reporters.

Holt-beast: Holtby improved his personal points streak to 19 games. The Caps are 17-0-2 in Holtby’s last 19 decisions and he has not lost a game in regulation since Nov. 10 in Detroit when the Caps lost 1-0 to the Red Wings Holtby is now 9-2-0 against the Bruins in his career.

Bura-cuda: After going 25 games without a goal, Caps left wing Andre Burakovsky has two goals in his last four games.

Proving his worth: Marcus Johansson scored a dirty game-winning goal in the second period, crashing the net to pound his 10th goal of the season past Tuukka Rask. Playing third-line center in place of the injured Jay Beagle, Johansson now has three goals and two assists in his last four games. Johansson also won 6 of 10 faceoffs after losing 14 of 16 on Saturday night.

McKnockout: Caps fourth-line center Zach Sill knocked Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid out of the game with a big hit 4:47 into the second period. If you recall, McQuaid surprisingly fought T.J. Oshie when the two teams met in the preseason and left Oshie with a black eye.

What’s next: The Caps are scheduled to practice in Boston on Wednesday before flying to New York, where they’ll face the Islanders in Brooklyn on Thursday. The Isles just lost defenseman Johnny Boychuk but are expected to have goaltender Jaroslav Halak back in the lineup.

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Capitals don't get Penguins for home opener, but Penguins will host Capitals in theirs

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USA TODAY Sports

Capitals don't get Penguins for home opener, but Penguins will host Capitals in theirs

The Capitals found out who their opponent will be for the home opener on Oct. 3 and it's not the Pittsburgh Penguins.

And you know what? That's OK. Winning the Stanley Cup was awesome and the banner raising will be an incredible scene regardless. 

Plus, the Penguins need that night off because they have to get ready for their own home opener on Oct. 4 against...the Caps?

Wait, what?

In 2016, the Capitals were in attendance as the Penguins raised their Stanley Cup banner. That had to sting considering Pittsburgh eliminated Washington in the playoffs.

It has not become a tradition to make rivals watch as teams raise banners and there's nothing that said the NHL had to schedule the Penguins for Washington's home opener. But it does seem odd that the NHL is going to make the defending Stanley Cup champions play a back-to-back right out of the gate with the second end coming against their archrivals in Pittsburgh.

Hey Caps, it's the NHL here. Congrats again. Vegas is a hell of a city, am I right? So, listen...we thought about it and decided you won't get to raise your banner against your rivals. Sorry about that. We tried and we couldn't get them for your first game. Good news though, we moved it all the way up to the second game, we just couldn't get it any sooner than that. You'll be playing them the second game of the season...the night after your home opener...in Pittsburgh...for their home opener. Anyway, good luck on the repeat.

Makes sense.

Look, if Washington can't have Pittsburgh for the home opener fine. It would have been nice, but it's really not a big deal. Raising the banner will be special regardless of who the opponent will be. But don't turn around and make the Caps play in the Penguins' home opener the very next day.

The schedule makers did the Caps no favors with this one.

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Date for Capitals home opener, banner raising announced and it's not against the Pittsburgh Penguins

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Date for Capitals home opener, banner raising announced and it's not against the Pittsburgh Penguins

Just before the Caps turn the page on their Stanley Cup championship season and open a new campaign, they will raise a championship banner to the rafters of Capital One Arena in the home opener. We now have a date for that banner raising.

The Capitals' home opener will be on Oct. 3, but if you were hoping Washington would raise the banner against the Pittsburgh Penguins, you're going to be disappointed.

Instead, the Boston Bruins will be the Caps' first opponent at Capital One Arena for the 2018-19 season.

The Capitals opened the 2016-17 season in Pittsburgh when the Penguins raised their Stanley Cup banner from 2016. That was rubbing salt in the wound as not only are the Penguins Washington's biggest rival, they also eliminated the Caps in the second round of the 2016 playoffs en route to winning the Stanley Cup.

The fact that the Caps had to endure that banner raising led to speculation that the NHL schedule makers would perhaps return the favor and bring the Penguins to Washington as the Caps prepare to raise their first championship banner.

Alas, that was not the case. It's totally understandable though. The Penguins need that night off so they can prepare for their home opener on Oct. 4...against the Capitals.

It is not typical that the NHL forces teams to play their rivals in a home opener during a banner raising ceremony and it should be noted that the Caps were not in Pittsburgh for the Penguins' 2017 home opener after Pittsburgh's second straight Stanley Cup. The 2016-17 season appears to be little more than a coincidence.

Still, having the Caps play in Pittsburgh the very next night seems like an odd quirk.

Seeing the Caps raise the Stanley Cup banner on Oct. 3 will be no less sweet without the Penguins in attendance. But it would have been nice.

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