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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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Believe it or not, this isn't the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup

Believe it or not, this isn't the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup

In what is perhaps the most unexpected Stanley Cup Final pairing in recent memory, the Washington Capitals and the Las Vegas Golden Knights are going to make history this year.

Either it is going to be the first expansion team to win a title in their first season, or it will be a team looking to end a 27-year title drought for one of the biggest cities in the United States.

But what it will not be is the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup.

Going even farther back than the Capitals last Stanley Cup appearance (1998), the Georgetown Hoyas and UNLV Rebels met in the 1991 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Sin City took the first, and up until now, the only postseason bout between these two cities. The Larry Johnson-led University of Las Vegas squad powered right past the Hoyas in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament.

[D.C. sports and Second Rounds, I know right?]

Coming fresh off the NCAA title in 1990, UNLV waltzed right to the Final Four before meeting their demise against Duke. It also ended up being the last game for Dikembe Mutombo in a Georgetown uniform.

While in all likely-hood this will not be the final game/ series for Alex Ovechkin rocking the red, it may be his last and only chance for him to play this far into a postseason.

In the past two seasons, Vegas has gone from zero professional teams to having a Stanley Cup contender, a WNBA franchise, and lined up to take over the Oakland Raiders in 2020. 

Now time for the Golden Knights' Cinderella story to come up a little bit short. 

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Capitals listed as underdogs in their first Stanley Cup since 1998

Capitals listed as underdogs in their first Stanley Cup since 1998

The odds have never gone the way of the Washington Capitals.

After years of being the common pick to finally break through and win the Stanley Cup, this was most definitely not the year.

Yet, here we are with the Capitals as one of the final two teams standing.

For their upcoming Stanley Cup Final, the Caps are the underdogs against the Las Vegas Golden Knights.  The opening line from OddsShark has the Golden Knights as -135 money line favorites to win the Stanley Cup. The Capitals were listed as +115 underdogs.

Vegas (the betting entity, not the team) has not exactly been the most reliable this year though. After all, the Golden Knights were 100/1 odds to win the whole thing. Now they are four games away.

In their past two series, Washington was not the favorites. The Capitals have not been favorites since the First Round against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

For years in the Alex Ovechkin era, they have been the favorites to not only go on to play for the Stanley Cup but winning it.

In 2018 they started the season tied for the fifth best odds to win the Cup (14/1), one of their lowest opening marks in the past decade. For the full perspective, Washington was tied with the Toronto Maple Leafs and behind the Dallas Stars at the start of the season.

Without question this underdog role has fit them quite well, they shouldn’t want anything to change heading into the biggest postseason series in 20 years for Washington D.C.

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