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Caps clinch Metropolitan Division, conference and Presidents' Trophy in shutout victory

Caps clinch Metropolitan Division, conference and Presidents' Trophy in shutout victory

Final score: Washington Capitals 2, New York Rangers 0

How it happened: Neither team was able to generate much offense in the first half of the game, but the Caps opened up a shooting gallery late in the second period on their fourth power play opportunity of the night. Alex Ovechkin took advantage, sending a shot between the legs of Kevin Klein and into the net. Evgeny Kuznetsov made it 2-0 in the third with a two-on-one goal and the Rangers didn't have any fight left.

What it means: The win clinches the Metropolitan Division and Presidents’ Trophy for Washington. That guarantees the Caps home-ice throughout the playoffs and a first-round matchup with the Eastern Conference’s second wild card team. They have now won the Presidents’ Trophy three times in the past eight seasons and are just the sixth team to win the award in consecutive seasons. The win also extends Washington’s new franchise record for home wins in a season to 32.

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Goals

Caps goal: Justin Williams (power play) from Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin at 14:39 in the 2nd period. The Caps moved the puck along the right side of the zone on the power play drawing the penalty killers over. Kuznetsov made a cross-ice pass to Ovechkin in the office. He didn’t catch it cleanly, but with no defensemen anywhere close, he had plenty of time to aim and shoot. The eventual wrister traveled through the legs of Kevin Klein and off of Williams into the net. Caps 1, Rangers 0

Caps goal: Evgeny Kuznetsov from Justin Williams and Marcus Johansson at 5:42 in the 3rd period. Johansson took the puck up on a two-on-one with Kuznetsov. Brendan Smith decided to go for Johansson which left Kuznetsov wide open for the mini-breakaway goal. Caps 2, Rangers 0

3 stars

1. Evgeny Kuznetsov: Kuznetsov assisted on the first goal and scored the exclamation mark to really put this one out of reach. Considering his struggles last postseaosn, it is encouraging to see him get points on the board this close to the end of the season.

2. Alex Ovechkin:  Ovechkin loves playing against Henrik Lundqvist. He may be one of the best netminders in the NHL, but Ovechkin always seems to have his number. It was true again on Wednesday. It looked like Ovechkin scored again on Lundqvist, but after the game, the goal was credited to Williams and Ovechkin was given the assist. Still, I doubt the Great 8 will complain.

3. Braden Holtby: The Caps netminder earned his league-leading ninth shutout of the season as he turned aside all 24 shots he faced from the Rangers. That is another big step towards earning the William M. Jennings Trophy which is awarded to the goalie of the team that allows the fewest goals against in a season. The Caps already led Columbus by five (179 to 184) coming into Wednesday's game.

Look ahead: The Caps wrap-up the regular season with a back-to-back over the weekend. They play in Boston on Saturday and return home Sunday to host the Florida Panthers.

Tell us what you think: Winning two consecutive Presidents' Trophies puts the Caps in pretty rare company. Is that a noteworthy accomplishment to you are does nothing matter but the Stanley Cup?

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Capitals hosting Rock The Rink skate and watch parties around DMV

Capitals hosting Rock The Rink skate and watch parties around DMV

The Capitals may not be participating in Stadium Series this year, but the team is embracing outdoor hockey around Washington for spirited game day fun.

The Caps are hosting Rock The Rink skates at The Wharf, Penatgon Row, Rockville Town Square and The Avenue at White Marsh on select game days from January to March 2020. Fans attending these events can wear Capitals jerseys or gear to get either $5 off admission or free skate rentals.

The Wharf

Jan. 18 at 1 p.m., Jan. 31 at 6 p.m., and Feb 17. at 1 p.m.

Transit Pier will boast a Capitals-paneled ice rink with an ice resurfacer, trivia contests, giveaways, along with a DJ. The Capitals Campire will also boast Adirondack chairs around a fire to roast marshmallows for smores in front of a 14-foot jumbotron screen to watch the Capitals games. 

Pentagon Row

Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. and March 9 at 6 p.m.

These skates will feature Slapshot, giveaways, a DJ and Capitals-centic specials at local restaurants. The Caps games will also be on at surrounding bars. 

The Avenue at White March

Feb. 7 at 6 p.m.

This event will feature Slapshot, giveaways, a DJ and Capitals-centic specials at local restaurants.

Rockville Town Square

Jan. 31 at 5:30 p.m. and March 5 at 6 p.m.

In addition to the above fun, Rockville native and Capitals hockey ambassador Haley Skarupa will be there on Jan. 31. You can watch the Capitals game at local bars as well. 

Fans attending these events or using local outdoor rinks this season are encouraged to post about it on social media by tagging @capitals and using the hashtag #RockTheRink to enter themselves for a chance to win prizes.

Caps slept through the first 40 minutes, they did not give Holtby much help though he was bad in his own right and Vrana sure did show something with the game-winning goal.

As for no penalties...not so much.

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Caps pull off inexplicable comeback win with five-goal third period

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Caps pull off inexplicable comeback win with five-goal third period

Down 4-1, the Capitals scored five goals in the third period for the incredible 6-4 comeback win over the New York Islanders on Saturday. Alex Ovechkin scored a hat trick pulling him in a tie with Steve Yzerman for ninth all-time in goals.

Here is how the Caps won.

Ovechkin

Ovechkin was hot coming in with five goals in his past two games. He scored midway through the first period, getting a great pass in stride from Nicklas Backstrom to launch him behind the defense. Just as the defense closed in he fired a wrister past Semyon Varlamov to make it 1-0.

There is...pretty much nothing positive to say after that until the third period. There was a great 5-on-3 penalty kill, but it was essentially negated as they allowed a goal soon after. The Islanders built a 4-1 lead through 40 minutes and it looked all but over.

But after Carl Hagelin made it 4-2, Ovechkin pulled the Caps to within one, pulling the vintage back-to-front Ovechkin curl-and-drag before passing to the front where the puck deflected off the boot of Ryan Pulock and in.

After Jakub Vrana made it 5-4, Ovechkin added the empty-netter for the knockout punch.

With three goals, Ovechkin now has 34 on the season. He passed Mario Lemieux and tied Steve Yzerman for ninth all-time in goals. Incredibly, this is the first time in his career Ovechkin has three straight multi-goal games.

Motivation

Just what exactly lit the fire under the Caps butts for that third period will probably be a talking point after the game. Was it Devon Toews doing the bird celebration after he scored to make it 4-1? Was it pulling Braden Holtby and starting Ilya Samsonov in the third period? Was it something Todd Reirden or one of the players said?

Whatever it was, it was a different Caps team that took the ice for the third period.

Hagelin's turnaround

As great as Ovechkin's performance was -- and it was epic -- it might not happen without the Carl Hagelin's early third-period tally.

The comeback was sparked by Hagelin's goal that came less than three minutes into the final frame. A great pass by Richard Panik set Hagelin up on the doorstep and he hit it home.

That goal made it 4-2 and a two-goal deficit seems a lot less daunting than a three-goal one.

Shaky Varlamov

Once Ovechkin made it 4-3, you could smell the blood in the water. Washington had gotten to Varlamov and the flood gates were open.

Dmitry Orlov took the puck up to the top of the faceoff circle and fired a slap shot that Wilson managed to get a stick to and deflected it through Varlamov to tie the game.

About three minutes later, Vrana intercepted a pass and fired a quick shot to beat Varlamov far-side for the 5-4 lead.

Varlamov faced 10 shots in the third period and allowed four goals. The fifth came on an empty net.

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