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Caps end Columbus' bid at history with dominant win

Caps end Columbus' bid at history with dominant win

Just one win short of NHL history, the Columbus Blue Jackets saw their 16-game win streak emphatically snapped Thursday in a 5-0 loss to the Washington Capitals.

How it happened: The Caps got off to a great start with two goals in the first period. Daniel Winnik put Washington up 1-0 early in the first period as he crashed the net to clean up a scrum in front of Sergei Bobrovski started by Jay Beagle. Just over six minutes later the Caps extended their lead to 2 as a Marcus Johansson pass deflected off the skate of John Carlson and past Bobrovski. Nate Schmidt added another goal in the third period, as he collected his own rebound and fired a shot that deflected off a sprawling Brandon Dubinsky and into the net. Andre Burakovsky and Justin Williams would add insurance tallies to complete the rout.

What it means: The win snaps a 16-game win streak for Columbus, the second-longest streak in NHL history, one shy of tying the record of 17 set by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 1992-93 season. It is the Blue Jackets’ first loss since Nov. 26. Washington has earned a point in seven of its last eight games against Columbus and has improved its season record against the Blue Jackets to 1-1-1. The Caps have now won four straight and own a five-game point streak. The win also improves Washington’s record within the Metropolitan Division to 6-5-4.

Turning point: The Capitals dictated their will in the first period thanks in large part to the early goal by Winnik. Whenever a team can get offensive production from its fourth line, that’s a huge momentum boost and that proved to be the case on Thursday. Winnik gave Washington the lead and the team never looked back.

Blue line bombers: The Caps have been getting major offensive contributions from the defense of late and that continued Thursday with goals from both Carlson and Schmidt. Carlson has now scored goals in two straight games and has earned 13 points in his last 16 games. The goal was the 58th of his career, tying him with Al Iafrate for 8th place in Caps history in goals by defensemen. Schmidt's goal ends what was nearly a year-long drought as his last goal came on Jan. 7, 2016. Washington has now gotten 11 goals from the defense in the last 13 games and six goals from five different defensemen in the last three.

Bounceback for Braden: Braden Holtby was pulled from Tuesday's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs after giving up three goals in the first period on just eight shots. He was back to his normal dominant self on Thursday as he turned aside 29 shots he faced en route to the shutout win. His best save of the night came in the second period. The Caps got drawn into the corner of the defensive zone leaving Markus Nulivaara wide open at the top of the circle. Holtby saved the first shot, but it deflected off the back wall and came right back to Nulivaara. He tried to catch Holtby off balance, but the netminder kicked out the left toe to turn aside the second shot and preserve the goose egg. The shutout is his fourth of the season and 27th of his career.

Penalty killers: Heading into Thursday's game, Columbus boasted the top power play in the NHL at 28.3 percent. Washington has struggled of late staying out of the penalty box so a strong penalty kill would be key. They got it Thursday. The Caps killed off all five power plays they faced while allowing four shots on goal. Giving up five power plays, however, is still high, but it didn't cost them Thursday.

Where there's a Williams, there's a way: With his third-period goal, Williams has three goals and four assists in his last four games. He now has earned 16 points in his last 15 games.

Within reach: Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin both recorded assists on Schmidt's goal in the second period. The assist was No. 499 for Backstrom, pulling him within one of the 500 mark. Ovechkin now has 496 career points, four shy of No. 1,000.

Look ahead: Washington now hits the road for two games in Canada. They will face the Ottawa Senators on Saturday and the Montreal Canadiens on Monday. The Caps then return to Washington on Wednesday for a game against rival Pittsburgh.

MORE CAPITALS: Watch Justin Williams finish off the Blue Jackets

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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 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.


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.