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Capitals beat Red Wings in shootout to regain first place

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Capitals beat Red Wings in shootout to regain first place

Post-game analysis of the Capitals’ 3-2 shootout win over the Detroit Red Wings Tuesday night at Verizon Center:

How it happened: Alex Ovechkin was an absolute beast in the third period, drawing a holding penalty on Mike Green and a hooking penalty on Brendan Smith before finally scoring against the Red Wings on his 28th shot of the season against them in three games. That sent the game into a very entertaining overtime, where each team failed to score on the power play. The Caps won it quickly in the shootout, getting goals from T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov, while getting consecutive stops by Braden Holtby on Gustav Nyqvist and Pavel Datsyuk.   

What it means: The Capitals vaulted past the New York Rangers and into first place in the Metropolitan Division with 40 points, one more than the Rangers. The Caps have played two fewer games. The Caps also improved to 7-0 following a loss this season.  

Quick milestones: Justin Williams netted his 600th NHL point just 43 seconds into the game when he pitchforked a centering pass from Evgeny Kuznetsov past Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard. Marcus Johansson netted the other assist for his 200th NHL point. Williams recorded his first NHL point on Oct. 5, 2000 when he put his own rebound past Vancouver goalie Felix Potvin as member of the Flyers. It came on Williams’ second NHL shift on a line with left wing John LeClair and  center Keith Primeau. That was also the NHL debut of Daniel and Henrik Sedin. Williams had a goal and two assists in that game. The Sedins did not record a point. 

Save of the game: With 3:22 remaining in the second period and the Red Wings leading 2-1, Jason Chimera had a golden opportunity to tie the game but fired into the right pad of Jimmy Howard, who sprawled to make the save, losing his stick in the process.   

Oops: Dmitry Orlov’s defensive zone turnover 3:16 into the second period led to Tomas Jurco’s go-ahead goal. Orlov arrived at the goal line in time to swipe the puck away from forward Luke Glendening, but he completely missed the puck, allowing Joakim  Andersson to find Henrik Zetterberg alone in front for Zetterberg’s fifth of the season.

Line shuffling: Midway through the second period Barry Trotz flipped centers Jay Beagle and Michael Latta, using Beagle between fourth line left wing Brooks Laich and right wing Andre Burakovsky, and Latta between third-liners Jason Chimera and Tom Wilson. A few shifts later Tortz went back to his original line combinations.

Thanks, Greenie: During a break in the first period the Capitals showed a video tribute to Mike Green, who spent 10 seasons and 575 games in Washington. Green responded by applauding the fans. Before the game he shared his thoughts on playing in Washington.

On seeing Washington fans embrace the Capitals:

“I was just a piece of the puzzle, really. I didn’t do anything spectacular besides enjoy playing the game here. We enjoyed when the fans would come out and watch. It’s exciting to see how far it’s come since I first started.”

On his first season in Washington in 2005-06: 

“I remember my first couple of games at the MCI Center, there were maybe 6 or 8,000 fans and now I know they sell out most nights, if not every night, and that’s quite an accomplishment for the organization.”

On returning to D.C.: “I obviously spent a great deal of time in the area and some of the things that I’m most proud of are the off-ice stuff as far as charities. If I see kids with my jerseys or whatnot, that always brings a smile to my face.”

On failing to win a Stanley Cup as a Capital: “That was always our ultimate goal. It’s never easy to win in this league, that’s for sure. We always took pride in the journey to try to get there, including myself. We had a lot of fun doing it but my time kind of just ran out there and I wish them all the best.”

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Tom Wilson puts on a show in his hometown to lead Capitals over Toronto

Tom Wilson puts on a show in his hometown to lead Capitals over Toronto

Tom Wilson's two-point night including the shorthanded game-winner as the Capitals held on for a 3-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs Thursday. The win was Washington's third on their six-game road trip, which concludes Saturday in Buffalo.

Here are four reasons Washington won.

1. Braden Holtby’s first period

After the first period, it looked like we were going to have a goalie duel. Frederik Andersen looked absolutely brilliant to start and the Caps needed Holtby to be equally brilliant to keep Washington in it. He was.

Holtby made 12 of his 40 saves in the opening frame, including an absolute beauty to rob Patrick Marleau. Andersen robbed Michal Kempny and Nicklas Backstrom on one end of the ice and Toronto picked up the puck off the rebound for a quick 2-on-1 counter. Kasperi Kapanen fed Marleau beautifully, but Holtby stretched out to make the spectacular save with the blocker. A few minutes later, Holtby made a quick pad save on a William Nylander backhand, then recovered just in time to deny Connor Brown on the rebound attempt.

Because of Holtby’s efforts, both teams went to the locker room locked in a 0-0 tie.

2. Alex Ovechkin draws a penalty, scores the power play goal

Morgan Rielly does not take many penalties. Heading into Thursday’s game, Rielly had taken only two minor penalties all season, which is pretty remarkable when you think about a top defenseman averaging 22:43 of ice time per game.

In the second period, however, Ovechkin managed to draw a hold on Rielly. When you get a team’s top defenseman in the box, you need to take advantage. The Caps did just that off a quick play off a faceoff.

T.J. Oshie won the draw back to John Carlson. As soon as the draw was taken, Ovechkin backed away towards the top of the opposite faceoff circle. Toronto was slow to setup the defense, so when Carlson fed Ovechkin for the one-timer, he had an open shooting lane on net. Ovechkin delivered a fadeaway one-timer from above the circle and beat Andersen glove side.

3. A key forecheck by Tom Wilson

Brett Connolly made a nice play in front of the net to deke around the stretched pad of Andersen and backhand the puck into the open goal. Wilson made that play happen, however, with a great forecheck.

Jake Gardiner went to recover the puck behind the goal line in the defensive zone, but Wilson came streaking in like a freight train and knocked Gardiner off the puck. Lars Eller pounced on the loose puck and fed Connolly in front of the net. He did the rest.

4. The Tom Wilson shorthanded exclamation point

Washington carried a 2-0 lead into the third period and looked to be the better team, but a goal form Andreas Johnsson put the Maple Leafs right back in it. The ice was definitely tilting in Toronto’s favor and less than 90 seconds after Johnsson scored, John Carlson took a hooking penalty.

With the game on the line, however, the penalty kill delivered.

Holtby made a kick-out save and two Leafs went after the rebound, but Brooks Orpik made a key stick lift on Mitch Marner and Eller beat Johnsson to the puck and had a lane for the breakout. Wilson turned on the jets and hustled out of the zone to try to catch up with Eller for the 2-on-1. He got there just in time and Eller delivered the pass to him just past the blue line. Wilson took aim and fired a wrister past Andersen to end any hopes for a comeback.

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Capitals fan finishes late wife's dream of watching DC at every NHL arena

Capitals fan finishes late wife's dream of watching DC at every NHL arena

To watch the entire video, click "play" in the video player above.

Capitals fan Greg Christian and his late wife, Dona, made a plan to watch their favorite team at every NHL arena. Greg finally achieved that goal.

Gred attended the Caps' tilt with the Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena on Jan. 23, taking with him a picture of Dona sporting a Hockey Fights Cancer jersey.

Greg and his wife were long-time Caps fans, and spent road trips talking about hockey and sports. They were soon inspired to follow the Caps on the road and make it to every possible venue to watch them play.

However, those plans would be interrupted in April 2017, when Dona was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. The two made it to 34 NHL venues together before she passed away in November, last taking in a Caps game at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, according to the Washington Post.

The two have now seen Washington play at 36 venues, including two past arenas and three stadiums. And once Seattle gets an NHL franchise, Greg told WUSA9 he plans to be in attendance.

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