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Caps beat Red Wings 6-3 for 11th straight home win

Caps beat Red Wings 6-3 for 11th straight home win

Final score: Washington Capitals 6, Detroit Red Wings 3

How it happened:  It looked from the start like Washington was on its way to another blowout win as Marcus Johansson put the Caps up 1-0 just six minutes into the game. Andreas Athanasiou, however, responded with two quick first period goals to take the lead. Brett Connolly struck to tie the game at two and cap off a crazy, four-goal first period. T.J. Oshie scored in the second period to give the Caps back the lead, but Detroit struck early in the third with a beautiful goal from Henrik Zetterberg to tie it at 3. The Caps took over from there, however, as Oshie set up the game-winner for John Carlson and then scored a power play tally for the knockout punch.

What it means: The win is Washington’s 11th in a row at home and fifth in a row overall. It is also the tenth straight home game in which the Caps have scored at least five goals. Washington remains undefeated at home in 2017. 

Goals

Capitals goal: Marcus Johansson from Evgeny Kuznetsov and Justin Williams at 5:57 in the first. Williams left the puck sitting just past the blue line for a streak Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov skated to Petr Mrazek’s right then tried to feed Johansson on the back door. Athanasiou almost intercepted the pass on the back check, but Johansson deftly took the puck back and fired it over the sprawled Mrazek. Caps 1, Red Wings 0

Red Wings goal: Andreas Athanasiou from Thomas Vanek and Ryan Sproul at 13:30 in the first. Athanasiou took the puck from behind the Caps net, then wheeled all the way around the face-off circle with the puck on his backhand. When he finally found a seam, he charged, putting the puck back on the  forehand and ripping a shot from the high slot past Braden Holtby. Caps 1, Red Wings 1

Red Wings goal: Andreas Athanasiou (power play) from Thomas Vanek at 16:23 in the first. Both teams battled for a loose puck in the Caps’ defensive zone, before Vanek finally tapped it loose to Athanasiou who found himself open for the shot and the goal. Caps 1, Red Wings 2

Capitals goal: Brett Connolly from Lars Eller and Karl Alzner at 18:30 in the first. Mrazek kicked out the pad to save a shot from Alzner sending the puck to his right on the red line to Connolly. Despite getting shaken up on a check behind the net, Connolly was able to shoot the puck into the net from almost zero angle to tie the game. Capitals 2, Red Wings 2

Capitals goal: T.J. Oshie from John Carlson and Nicklas Backstrom at 1:16 in the second. After Backstrom broke up a Red Wing drive in the neutral zone, the puck found its way to Carlson who quickly passed the puck up to Oshie for the counterattack. Oshie went far-side with the wrister to beat Mrazek. Caps 3, Red Wings 2

Red Wings goal:  Henrik Zetterberg from Anthony Mantha and Gustav Nyquist at 1:25 in the third. Mantha entered the zone on a two-on-two with Zetterberg and pulled up allowing Zetterberg to get in behind Kuznetsov who was trapped in the defensive zone. Mantha found Zetterberg with a beautiful pass and Zetterberg showed incredible patience before beating Holtby with the backhand to the top shelf. Caps 3, Red Wings 3

Capitals goal: John Carlson from T.J. Oshie at 4:15 in the third. Oshie picked the pocket of Danny Dekeyser in the offensive zone then teed up Carlson for the slapshot on top of the face-off circle. Caps 4, Red Wings 3

Capitals goal: T.J. Oshie (power play) from Marcus Johansson and Nicklas Backstrom at 14:18 in the third. Backstrom and Johansson played keep away behind the net before Backstrom fed Oshie for the one-timer. Caps 5, Red Wings 3

Capitals goal: Nicklas Backstrom (empty netter) from Jay Beagle at 18:28 in the third. Caps 6, Red Wings 3

3 stars

1. T.J. Oshie: Not only did Oshie score twice, his pickpocket steal of Dekeyser and led to an assist of the game-winning goal for Carlson.

2. Andreas Athanasiou: It's not everyday you see someone beat Holtby clean with a snapshot, but Athanasiou managed to do it twice Thursday.

3. Marcus Johansson: Johansson opened the scoring with his third goal in three games. He also added an assist in the third period on Oshie's power play tally.

Look ahead: Washington hosts the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday in the last game before the Caps’ bye week. They will be off until Fri. Feb. 17 when they return to practice. Then it’s off to Detroit for a rematch with the Red Wings on Sat. Feb. 18.

Tell us what you think: The Capitals have been the healthiest team in the NHL this season by a wide margin. Does Andre Burakovsky leaving Thursday's game early with an upper-body injury change your thinking before the NHL trade deadline?

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T.J. Oshie puts on a memorable performance in 300th game as a Capital

T.J. Oshie puts on a memorable performance in 300th game as a Capital

300 games. 108 goals. 108 assists.

Just so you're tracking, those are T.J. Oshie's stats through 300 games as a member of the Washington Capitals.

In an outstanding 5-2 victory over the New York Rangers, Oshie scored two power play goals. It was the second time in his career that Oshie recorded two such goals.

Another shot on goal — he had four in the game — would have put him at a nice-and-even 620 during his tenure with the Capitals, but hey, we can't all be perfect.

The statistical-evenness is certainly satisfying, but even if you're not a fan of quirky stats, the man has logged 216 points in 300 games. That's pretty darn good.

T.J. Oshie will seek to continue putting up great numbers as the Capitals embark on a two-week road trip. Their first stop will be Sunday in Chicago for a showdown against the Blackhawks.

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A return six months in the making for defenseman Michal Kempny

A return six months in the making for defenseman Michal Kempny

It took six months of toil and effort for Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny to make it back to an NHL game. 

He last played March 20 when a torn hamstring in a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning ended his season just a few weeks before the Stanley Cup playoffs began. That was brutal. 

A spring to heal after surgery, a summer to rehab the injury and weeks getting back in hockey shape were the steep price paid. And then it took him all of 15 minutes to score his first goal on Friday in a game against the New York Rangers. Welcome back, Michal. 

“I felt pretty good, actually. My legs felt good,” Kempny said. “Obviously not an easy situation for me. But I got to say just thank you to all of the staff, whole organization, my teammates, my family, my friends who were supporting me all the way through here and help me. It means a lot to me.”

It was an organizational project. Kempny meant so much to Washington during its Stanley Cup run of 2018. The Capitals felt his absence on the top pair with John Carlson during the first-round series loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. 

Washington coach Todd Reirden credited team trainers Jason Servis and Mike Booi and strength and conditioning coach Mark Nemish with putting Kempny in position to return early in the season.  

“Six months of investment of their time to get him back,” Reirden said. “I thought Michal looked really good.”

The goal came at 15:16 of the first period and gave Washington a 2-1 lead. Kempny jumped onto a loose pucked batted around by teammate Alex Ovechkin, quickly corralled it and beat Henrik Lundqvist for the goal. It was a pretty play and another indication that Capitals' defensemen are taking chances when they see them on the offensive end. 

In his first game back, Kempny had 14:24 of ice time. That’s about the goal the Capitals had in mind for him. He started on the third pair with fellow Czech Radko Gudas, but also played 3:42 with Carlson, who mobbed Kempny after his goal and gave him a celebratory facewash with his glove. They’re happy to have him back. 

“I just grab the puck and there was open net, so a little lucky for me,” Kempny said. “I was just excited.”

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