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Caps go wild on Minnesota to snap four-game skid

Caps go wild on Minnesota to snap four-game skid

Final score: Washington Capitals 4, Minnesota Wild 2

How it happened: This one had all the makings of a goalie duel in the first period as Braden Holtby and Devan Dubnyk traded great save after great save. Nate Schmidt broke open the scoring with just 12 seconds left in the first period, however, and the Caps never looked back. Alex Ovechkin snapped his 10-game goal drought in the second period and Evgeny Kuznetsov added goal No. 3 just 2:16 later. Matt Dumba gave the Wild life with his goal less than a minute into the third period. Eric Staal scored four minutes later to pull Minnesota within one, but that would be as close as they would come as Jay Beagle put the exclamation point on the win.

What it means: The win snapped a four-game losing streak, the longest for the Caps since Barry Trotz’s first season in Washington. The Caps remain in first place of the Metropolitan Division with a two-point lead over Pittsburgh and three-point lead over Columbus, both of whom were idle Tuesday.

Goals

Caps goal: Nate Schmidt from Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom at 19:48 in the first period. Backstrom backhanded a pass from behind the net into the slot looking for Ovechkin. Ovechkin missed and the puck went to a waiting Schmidt who fired a quick shot at the net. The shot deflected off a defender past Dubnyk. Caps 1, Wild 0

Caps goal: Alex Ovechkin from John Carlson and Nicklas Backstrom at 14:52 in the second period. Backstrom backhanded a pass to the blue line which Carlson fed over to Ovechkin in the office. Ovechkin fired the shot into the net just after the power play expired. Caps 2, Wild 0

Caps goal: Evgeny Kuznetsov (power play) from John Carlson and Nicklas Backstrom at 17:08 in the second period. Backstrom pulled up just as he entered into the zone which drew the nearest defenseman to him. That allowed Kuznetsov to split  the defense. Backstrom fed him the pass and Kuznetsov had an open lane on Dubnyk. Caps 3, Wild 0

Wild goal: Matt Dumba from Mikael Granlund at 0:37 in the third period. Ovechkin tried to corral a puck in the defensive zone, but accidentally sent to behind the net to Granlund. Granlund fed Dumba in front of the net who had room to deke around and over the outstretched pad of Holtby. Caps 3, Wild 1

Wild goal: Eric Staal (power play) from Mikko Koivu and Ryan Suter at 4:37 in the third period. The Caps killed off the first penalty of a five-on-three power play for the Wild, but as Brett Connolly rushed into the play, Staal buried the rebound of a Zach Parise shot to pull Minnesota within one. Caps 3, Wild 2

Caps goal: Jay Beagle from Dmitry Orlov at 14:19 in the third period. Orlov retrieved the puck at the Caps' blue line on a soft dump-in by Minnesota who was looking for the line change. He fired the puck up to Beagle quickly to start the rush and Beagle snapped a beauty past Dubnyk. Caps 4, Wild 2

3 stars

1. Nicklas Backstrom: Backstrom had a hand in all three of the Caps' goals and each assist was a good one. This was his third three assist game of the season.

2. Braden Holtby: Dubnyk may well win the Vezina Trophy this year, but Holtby was the better netminder on the night. He was unbeatable for the first 40 minutes of the game. In the two goals he allowed, one came off a defensizve zone turnover and the other was at the tail end of a two-man advantage. Everything Holtby could save, he did.

3. Alex Ovechkin: Mired in the worst goal slump of his career, Ovechkin fired a goal from the office in the second period to snap a ten-game drought. It wasn't the best shot, but it was good enough to beat Dubnyk and put the Cpas in complete control of what had been a tight game.

Look ahead: The Caps host the Nashville Predators on Thursday and then head to Tampa Bay to play the wild card hopeful Lightning. They then return to Washington for a three-game home stand.

Tell us what you think: The losing streak is over and the Caps' beat the top team in the west to break it. Are you still concerned or did Tuesday's win allay your fears?

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Stanley Cup Final 2018: Who could win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

Stanley Cup Final 2018: Who could win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

The Stanley Cup is not the only trophy that will be awarded at the end of the Stanley Cup Final series between the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights. The Conn Smythe will also be given to the player deemed the most valuable to his team during the playoffs.

Who will that player be?

It's not hard to figure out who the frontrunner is right now. Marc-Andre Fleury hasn't just been the best goalie in the playoffs, he's been the best player with a dominant postseason in which he has posted a .947 save percentage and four shutouts. He has been so dominant, he could win it even if Vegas loses the series.

See the top contenders for the Conn Smythe heading into the Stanley Cup Final here.

The last player from the losing team to win the Conn Smythe was Jean-Sebastian Giguere from the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2003.

But what about the Caps?

Alex Ovechkin is the leader of Washington and has been absolutely dominant throughout the postseason. He even scored the series-clinching goal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Surprisingly, however, Ovechkin does not lead the team in points through the playoffs. Evgeny Kuznetsov holds that edge with 24 points to Ovechkin's 22.

Will their offensive dominance propel them to win the Cup and the Conn Smythe? Will a different player emerge as the hero of the series?

See the top contenders for the Conn Smythe heading into the Stanley Cup Final here.

MORE CAPITALS PLAYOFF NEWS:

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Las Vegas changes iconic welcome sign to include no capital letters

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Twitter/City of Las Vegas

Las Vegas changes iconic welcome sign to include no capital letters

The Washington Capitals official #ALLCAPS hashtag started in 2017 during a Caps-Penguins game after the Pittsburgh Penguins' official Twitter account decided to tweet in all lowercase letters during the game. 

Now, as the Caps look to face the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Final ahead of Game 1 Monday, Vegas has followed suit by changing their iconic "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign to include only lowercase letters, a jab at the Capitals #ALLCAPS.

Additionally, the City's official Twitter account has changed their handle to "the city of las vegas" without any capital letters and the hashtag #nocaps.

It will be interesting to see how the Capitals' official Twitter will respond...

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