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Capitals beat Coyotes on the way to franchise record for home wins

Capitals beat Coyotes on the way to franchise record for home wins

Final score: Washington Capitals 4, Arizona Coyotes 1

How it happened: Alex Ovechkin scored a power play tally in the first period and it looked like the Caps would breeze through Arizona. The Coyotes had other ideas. Mike Smith kept things close through two periods and Peter Holland tied the game at 1 in the third period. Then the Caps responded with two quick goals from Daniel Winnik and Justin Williams to take back control. Winnik added the exclamation-point empty netter for the win.

What it means: The win is Washington’s 31st at home for the season which sets a new franchise record. The Caps have now won four straight games and hold a three-point lead over Columbus and Pittsburgh for first place in the Metropolitan Division.

Goals

Caps goal: Alex Ovechkin (power play) from Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson at 8:31 in the first period.  With T.J. Oshie, Johansson and Backstrom passing the puck on the far wall, they drew all four penalty killers to their side of the ice leaving Ovechkin wide open from the office. Backstrom fed him with the pass and Ovechkin wristed it home. Caps 1, Coyotes 0

Coyotes goal: Peter Holland from Anthony Duclair at 12:29 in the 3rd period. Duclair showed his jets by pouncing on a loose puck in the neutral zone and leaving everyone in his dust. Holtby made the initial breakaway save, but the trailing Holland was able to score on the rebound. Caps 1, Coyotes 1

Caps goal: Daniel Winnik from Kevin Shattenkirk and Dmitry Orlov at 15:21 in the 3rd period. Orlov started the rush out of the defensive zone and found Winnik streaking down the right side with the pass. Winnik did the rest, taking the puck on net and wristing one past Smith. Caps 2, Coyotes 1

Caps goal: Justin Williams from Kevin Shattenkirk at 15:53 in the 3rd period. Williams fired an innocent-looking shot from the right faceoff circle that somehow beat Smith top shelf. Caps 3, Coyotes 1

Caps goal: Daniel Winnik (empty net) from Jay Beagle and Brooks Orpik at 18:21 in the 3rd period. Caps 4, Coyotes 1

3 stars

1. Mike Smith: While the Coyotes were getting buried in shots, they weren’t getting buried in the scoreboard because of the phenomenal effort of Smith in net. He stopped 26 shots in the first two periods including a 2-on-0 opportunity for Washington in the second period to keep Arizona in the game.

2. Daniel Winnik: Winnik to the rescue! Just when the Coyotes tied the game, Winnik responded less than four minutes later to give the Caps back the lead. He then added the empty-netter with a great effort play to beat defenseman Jamie McGinn who was all over him.

3. Alex Ovechkin: If you give Ovechkin that much room on the power play, he's going to make you pay and he did with his 30th goal of the season. Ovechkin is now one of just three players to score 30 or more goals in his first 12 seasons.

Look ahead: The Capitals hit the road for a five-game road trip starting on Tuesday in Minnesota. The trip will also bring them to Colorado, Arizona, Columbus and Toronto.

Tell us what you think: The Caps could not take control of this game until Arizona tied the game at one in the third period. On Thursday, they responded only after Columbus took the 1-0 lead in the third. What is your takeaway from the Caps' clutch play in the third period of late?

MORE CAPITALS: Ovechkin hits 30-goal mark for 12th straight season

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T.J. Oshie doesn't believe shootouts should dictate results in the Stanley Cup Playoffs

T.J. Oshie doesn't believe shootouts should dictate results in the Stanley Cup Playoffs

T.J. Oshie is no stranger to success in shootouts, especially in big games. Namely, his performance in the 2014 Sochi Olympics against Russia earned him that reputation.

If the shootout style was ever brought to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the NHL, there's a chance that Oshie's name would once again be called upon. However, the Capital isn't set on that scenario becoming a reality. 

As of now, playoff matchups head into as many overtimes as needed rather than a shootout. While that can be draining for players, Oshie believes it is a more genuine way to determine results in the postseason. Hockey is a sport that forces a team to come together as a whole, and he feels that shootouts take that away.

“Selfishly I’d love to see it. But I just look back and see some of the games that went to five overtimes and played past midnight," Oshie told NHL on NBC during a re-airing of his performance in the 2014 Olympics. “In the playoffs you need everyone on the ice, everyone doing their job. The shootout just feels a little bit more one-on-one.”

"So I don’t think it has a place in playoffs," he added.

As Oshie noted, he could see the fun and excitement in having shootouts in the playoffs due to his personal success experiences in those moments. Yet, his time in postseason runs, including Washington's 2018 championship has given him a larger perspective on the grind that is the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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The Capitals' Stanley Cup run was filled with grueling moments, but the success came from the team's effort altogether. Individual performances sparked big moments, but the Capitals were only as good as the sum of all their parts. To take that away in the biggest of moments is something that Oshie sees as wrong for the sport and the players who worked hard to get there.

“It’s just, after winning, I think you realize how much you need everybody playing well and so I think everyone deserves to play in those big moments," Oshie said.

So, while Oshie loves participating in late-game heroics, he'll take his chance at an overtime goal rather than a shootout. He does, however, understand that the continuation of the golden goal format could lead to more games with multiple extra periods. Though he is okay with those happening in place of a shootout, he also knows that he probably just talked himself into a lot more of those situations in the future.

“Watch I’ll go to like a five-overtime game and be dying an need an IV," Oshie joked. "And maybe change my tune.”

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T.J. Oshie had no nerves entering shootout with Russia in 2014 Sochi Olympics

T.J. Oshie had no nerves entering shootout with Russia in 2014 Sochi Olympics

As the United States and Russia entered the shootout period of the 2014 Olympic Games preliminary matchup tied 2-2, there was plenty of tension and nerves in Sochi.

T.J. Oshie, who was sent out for the first attempt, had the right to be as nervous as anyone. Skating on to the ice, he had the weight of a nation on his shoulders in a game that carried a history stemming from the Miracle on Ice. Yet, Oshie was as cool as the ground he was on. Rather than thinking about any outside noise, his only focus was on what he was going to do with the puck.

“Just my move. There probably wasn’t a time I was more confident than my first shot. I knew off the hop that I wanted to go five hole and that’s really all I had my mind made up for," Oshie told NHL on NBC during the re-airing of the infamous game on Saturday. "The first shot I was ready to go. I was excited to go out there and shoot first and put us up one.”

Oshie did just that on his first shot, giving the United States early momentum in the shootout. He would once again have his name called upon for the fourth attempt of the period. Though he was no longer setting the tone for the entire period, this is where Oshie more pressure.

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It wasn't solely because of the situation, but rather because he didn't want to lose the opportunity to shoot again down the line.

“I was most nervous for my second one because I felt if I missed I wouldn’t be going anymore," Oshie said.

He did miss the shot, but it was not the end for him. Rules allowed the U.S. to send the same player out there for each of the following rounds if they wanted, and head coach Dan Bylsma opted to stick with Oshie.

The rest is history, as in the eighth round Oshie's ability to find the back of the net ended up being the game-winner for the United States.

Despite the circumstances, Oshie never felt too nervous throughout the shootout period. Remaining calm and focusing on what he needed to do with his stick, he helped etch a spot for himself in the most memorable moments the sport of hockey has had to offer.

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