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Capitals take care of business in a big way against the Western Conference-leading Blackhawks

Capitals take care of business in a big way against the Western Conference-leading Blackhawks

Friday's game was billed as a heavyweight bout, but it didn't play out that way. The Caps routed the Western Conference-leading Chicago Blackhawks 6-0 in a laugher.

How it happened: A three-goal first period gave the Caps control early. Jay Beagle snuck a wrist shot through the five-hole of Corey Crawford and Nicklas Backstrom scored just 13 seconds later on a tic-tac-toe play from between Alex Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie. Connolly finished off the period with his sixth goal of the season. Chicago though they were on theThe Caps would add three more goals to complete the rout.

What it means: Pending the results of the Columbus-Tampa Bay game, Washington now owns the top record in the NHL. The Capitals extended their league-leading win streak to eight games and their overall point streak to nine. Washington has won six of their last seven against Chicago and is now an incredible 6-0-0 this season against the Central Division. 

500: Karl Alzner played in his 500th consecutive game Friday becoming the first player in franchise history to do so. He passed Bob Carpenter’s franchise record of 422 consecutive games on Jan. 27, 2016. Alzner is now the third defensemen since 1943-44 to play in 500 consecutive games joining Jay Bouwmeester and Keith Yandle.

Hawks killer: Beagle scored twice in Chicago on Nov. 11 in the first meeting between these two teams. The veteran center has eight goals this season and four of them have come against the Blackhawks. He now has six goals in eight career games against Chicago.

You shall not pass: The shutout is Braden Holtby's fifth in the past 14 games. He now leads the league with six shutouts this season.

Full strength: The Caps have not allowed an even-strength goal since Jan. 3 against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Since then, the team has allowed only three goals, all three of which came on the power play.

Everything going their way: Leading 3-0 in the second period, it looked like the Blackhawks had pulled one back as a shot block by Justin Williams went right to the tape of Vinnie Hinostrouza who hit the net. Holtby immediately appealed to the referees for goalie interference as Marion Hossa appeared to hit the netminder's stick as he skated past. Barry Trotz challenged the goal and the goal was overturned after a review.

Look ahead: The Caps wrap up their three-game homestand on Sunday in an afternoon game against the Philadelphia Flyers. They then leave Washington behind for three games with trips to Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Dallas starting with Caps-Penguins on Monday.

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Newest Caps defenseman Radko Gudas happy for a fresh start in D.C.

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USA Today Sports Images

Newest Caps defenseman Radko Gudas happy for a fresh start in D.C.

Radko Gudas was surprised, but also relieved. A different year in Philadelphia, where everything seemed to go wrong for the Flyers, is behind him now. He plays for the Capitals now. 

 

“I was a little bit shocked to be honest,” Gudas said in a conference call on Tuesday. “But when I heard where I'm going, I was pretty happy that I got traded to a team that's well known for their winning and their will to win every game they play.”

 

It capped a whirlwind few days for the 29-year-old, a polarizing figure in the sport along the lines of Washington forward Tom Wilson. Gudas has been suspended four times by the NHL Department of Player Safety. To say he plays the game on the edge is an understatement.

 

“Staying on right line of suspensions: It's always tough lately in the hockey these last few years,” Gudas said. “I worked on it in the summer and I thought I adjusted the game enough to still be able to play physical, just not be a liability out there for my team. It's always something hard to adjust, but we still have to do it. It's our job.”

 

In the midst of a rough year for Philadelphia that saw a coach firing and a late playoff surge fall short, Gudas took advantage of increased ice time – and cut his penalty minutes to 63 from a high of 116 when he joined the Flyers four years earlier. He will never be a big offensive threat, but he’s figured out how to suppress shots and play a reliable defensive game.

 

At a friend’s wedding in the Czech Republic on Friday when he got the news, Gudas received messages from his new teammates and wasn’t even sure who, exactly, of the Capitals coaches he spoke with. There was a lot going on. But he’s excited to play “for a well oiled machine” like Washington, which has its 2018 Stanley Cup and has won the Metropolitan Division four years in a row. 

 

Gudas knows fellow Washington defenseman Michal Kempny, 29, well. The two men were born just three months apart in 1990 and were teammates on the World Juniors under-18 Czech Republic team in 2008. They reconnected in 2017 for the Czech Republics’ entry in the IIHF World Championships. Jakub Vrana, 23, is a third Czech on one of the NHL’s most diverse rosters and played with Gudas at the 2019 World Championships. Kempny was still recovering from a torn hamstring sustained during the regular season. 

 

That familiarity is nice, but Gudas has been traded before when Tampa Bay sent him to Philadelphia in 2015. You just adjust to the role given with your new team. He’s ready for a fresh start with the Capitals. 

 

“They’re the winners from last year, they were the contenders this year,” Gudas said. “They always have a good team. They in the playoffs every year all these years. Play my simple game, the guys to know what to expect for me and know I’ll be there for them.”

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Capitals Talk hosts "Capitals On the Clock" special: How to watch, live stream, listen

Capitals Talk hosts "Capitals On the Clock" special: How to watch, live stream, listen

With the NHL Draft just a few days away in Vancouver and after countless mock drafts, NBC Sports Washington will have you covered as the Capitals decide who to take with the 25th overall pick.

As part of NBC Sports Washington's coverage of the NHL Draft, the Capitals Talk Podcast will host 'Capitals On the Clock: Draft Night' on linear television and as a live stream on the NBC Sports MyTeams app.

Capitals Talk will sit down with Rob Carlin, Grant Paulsen, Al Koken, Michael Jenkins, J.J. Regan and Brian McNally to discuss the Capitals the 2019 Draft. They'll be joined by Zack Fisch, Manager of Media Relations & Broadcasting with the Hershey Bears, who will shed light on who's ready to make the jump from the AHL to the NHL.

The live stream will also include an NHL and Capitals Draft trivia segment which fans will be able to play along with.

And if you haven't already downloaded the MyTeams App, you can do so right now, RIGHT HERE.

Capitals Talk Podcast "Capitals on the Clock" Special

When: 8 p.m. Friday June 21

Where: NBC Sports Washington and NBC Sports MyTeams App

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