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Braden Holtby can check another item off his to-do list tonight against the Dallas Stars

Braden Holtby can check another item off his to-do list tonight against the Dallas Stars

Over the course of his illustrious career, Braden Holtby has earned at least one victory against 28 different teams.

The one team last year’s Vezina Trophy winner hasn’t defeated? The Dallas Stars, who visit Verizon Center tonight.

Holtby is 0-3-0 in four appearances against the Stars — he did not receive a decision in one game. In addition, his save percentage (.852) and goals against average (4.42) against Dallas represent the worst numbers he’s posted against any single opponent.

So what gives?

In typical Holtby fashion, the unflappable netminder shrugged when his win-loss record versus the Stars was relayed to him following the morning skate.   

“We don’t play them very much,” he said. “Over the years, it hasn’t been too many times. I don’t know? We kinda struggled with them in their rink for a while. But that really doesn’t factor into it; I don’t think three games is a trend over the years. We’re focused on tonight.”

Added Coach Barry Trotz: “I didn’t even know that. To me, he’s going to play goal for the Washington Capitals, and he’s going to win a lot of games. And, at some point, he’ll beat every team in this league more than once. That’s how I look at it.”

The Stars have been a burr under the Caps’ saddle for a long time. Earlier this year, Washington ended a nine-game drought against Dallas with a 4-3 overtime win at American Airlines Center. Jay Beagle scored the game-winner 19 seconds into the extra session; backup goalie Philipp Grubauer got the win.

Tonight, Holtby and the Caps will look to end another drought…and extend a historic streak.

Washington has not defeated Dallas here since Nov. 30, 2006. (The Stars have won the last five meetings on F Street.)

The Caps, meantime, are looking to stretch their franchise-record home winning streak to 16 games.

And, oh yeah, Holtby will get the chance to check that final team off his list.

“They obviously have a dynamic offensive group, so it’s a matter of keeping them in their own end,” Holtby said. “They are going to get some chances and we need to make sure the ‘D’ and goaltending step up.”

Asked what it would mean to him to have wins against every opponent, Holtby said: “It would show consistency, I guess. But I don’t really think about that too often.”

RELATED: Who got the best deal through the trade deadline?

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NHL Playoffs 2019: All the division winners have been eliminated in the first round

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NHL Playoffs 2019: All the division winners have been eliminated in the first round

Never before has the NHL – or among other pro sport leagues in North America – seen all of the division winners knocked out in the first round of the postseason. That changed Wednesday.

The Carolina Hurricanes, who finished as the first wild-card in the regular season, were able to finish off the Washington Capitals with a 4-3 OT victory Wednesday, and with that win, they were able to emerge as the fourth and final wild-card team to advance to the second round.

Carolina joins the ranks of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars as the other underdogs to move one step over to the Stanley Cup.

Columbus has perhaps had the best series these playoffs so far, as they were able to claw back from a 3-0 Game 1 deficit against the top-seeded and Stanley Cup favorite Tampa Bay Lightning to win 4-3 and then win the next three games of the series for the sweep.

After falling 4-0 to the Calgary Flames in Game 1, the Avalanche were able to storm back and win four straight to take the series in five games. Calgary was the first Canadian team to be eliminated from the postseason, and there are no more Canadian teams moving on to next round.

Lastly, Dallas was up for a battle against the Nashville Predators, but in a back and forth series, they eventually went up 3-2 and were able to win Game 6 with a thrilling 2-1 overtime victory.

Columbus will face the Boston Bruins and the Stars will face the St. Louis Blues in the second round starting Thursday, while the Hurricanes will open their series against the Islanders and the Avalanche will face the San Jose Sharks starting Friday.

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Capitals’ title defense halted in first round as Hurricanes stun Washington in overtime

Capitals’ title defense halted in first round as Hurricanes stun Washington in overtime

WASHINGTON – The Capitals are the defending champs no more. After taking a 2-0 lead in the first period of Game 7 on Wednesday, Washington was stunned as the Carolina Hurricanes rallied for the 4-3 overtime win 

The Hurricanes now advance to face Barry Trotz and the New York Islanders int he second round starting on Friday. Washington, meanwhile, is left to ponder what could have been as their quest to repeat is now officially over.

Here are five reasons the Caps saw their season come to an end on Wednesday.

The second period

The Caps took control of the game early with two goals in the first seven minutes of the game. With all the momentum on their side and the crowd going berserk, Washington could have ridden that momentum to the comfortable win much as they did in Game 5. Unlike in Game 5, however, Carolina was able to find life in the middle frame with two goals of their own.

Sebastian Aho got the Hurricanes on the board with a shorthanded tally. Evgeny Kuznetsov restored Washington’s two-goal lead, but Teuvo Teravainen responded just over three minutes later to make sure the Hurricanes stayed within one through the second period.

A one-goal deficit with a period to play is hardly insurmountable and a confident Carolina team left the ice through 40 minutes despite the fact that they were still trailing. They had life and that meant they had a chance.

A shorthanded goal

Up 2-0, the Caps were handed a power play in the second period after Jordan Martinook was called for tripping Nick Jensen. Rather than stepping on Carolina’s throat, however, Washington instead allowed the Hurricanes right back into the game as they gave up a shorthanded goal to Aho.

After a scrum in front of the net Carolina’s net, Brett Pesce came away with the puck. Aho immediately went out to the neutral zone and began tapping his stick for the puck. Instead of just clearing it, Pesce passed it up to Aho. John Carlson was in good position to defend him, but had to drfit more to the middle with Teuvo Teravainen streak to the front. Aho saw he had some room and skated and chipped an innocent looking puck at Braden Holtby, probably looking for the rebound to set up Teravainen. Instead of setting up Teravainen, however, the puck bounced back out to Aho. Carlson and dove in front to block the shot and was out of position to defend leaving Aho all alone to shoot his own rebound and score.

Teravainen’s lightning fast shot

This play turned into one of the biggest plays of the game. Kuznetsov responded to Aho’s goal to make it 3-1 Caps, but Carolina was determined to score before the second period came to an end.

If you blinked, you would have missed it.

After a prolonged offensive shift for the Hurricanes, the Caps were on their heels. Pesce tried to pass from the blue line, but Carl Hagelin got his stick there to block it sending the puck bouncing toward the slot. Aho went after it, but missed. Instead it came to Teravainen who took one touch to control, then fired the quick shot before anyone realized what had happened.

Suddenly it was a one-goal game and Carolina had life.

Jordan Staal's game-tying goal

After taking momentum at the end of the second period, that certainly carried over to the start of the third. The Hurricanes were a step faster than Washington out of the game and it did not take long for them to get the game-tying tally.

Staal streaked into the offensive zone off a line change by Washington. The pass was perfect to lead Staal into the zoen and he had enough time to aim and fire the wrister before Jonas Siegenthaler was able to get over to challenge him. Tie game.

An overtime deflection

It was only a matter of time. The Caps may have started off as the better team, but Carolina took control and were easily the best team in overtime.

The Hurricanes fired off the first nine shots of the extra period before Washington was able to get a puck on the net. It only made it to a second overtime because of the brilliant play of Braden Holtby. Holtby made 17 saves in both overtime before he was finally beaten.

It was a deflection by Brock McGinn that ultimately ended the Caps' season after over 90 minutes of hockey.

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