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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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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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