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Caps, Grubauer celebrate happy birthday with win over Sabres

Caps, Grubauer celebrate happy birthday with win over Sabres

The Capitals moved to 13-5-1 thanks to a 3-1 victory over the Sabres on Friday night. The victory was the team's fourth in five games. 

How it happened: The Capitals came out hot and peppered goalie Anders Nilssen early and often. The 6-5 goaltender denied Justin Williams off a beautiful pass from Nicklas Backstom, and turned away an excellent chance from Zach Sanford. But Daniel Winnik put back a second chance in front of the net at 5:08 of the first period to give the Capitals a lead. They would not relinquish it.

Marcus Johansson got on the board in the second — his first goal at Verizon Center this season — after a pass to the front of the net caromed off the skate of a Buffalo skater. Johansson buried his one-timer past Nilssen for the 2-0 lead. 

But the Capitals were unable to hold on to the shutout thanks to a Sam Reinhart goal at 9:58 of the third period. A late penalty by the Sabres for too many men on the ice lead to the Capitals' final tally, an easy finish for Brett Connolly in front of the net.

Out in front: The Capitals scored first and lead after the second period, the fourth time in the last five games they've entered the third period with the lead. It was also the seventh time this season and the fourth time in six games that the Capitals held their opponents scoreless in the first two periods. The Capitals entered are now 10-1-1 when leading after two periods. 

No Ovi, no problem: Two days after he registered his 16th career hat-trick, the Capitals' captain registered just three shots. Ovechkin had one legitimate scoring chance, but was held in-check throughout. But the contributions from elsewhere were more than enough to get the win.

At the Top: The Capitals' top line of Johannson, Backstrom and Williams drove the bus on offense. While the first line only registered one goal, Williams and Backstrom had a bevy of solid opportunities on net. They set the tone early and often. Williams still needs to get things going a bit, but the trio at the top set the pace for the rest of the team.

No shutout, but a happy birthday: After taking losses in his previous two starts, Philipp Grubauer recorded the win on his 25th birthday, stopping 31 of the Sabres' 32 shots. With his parents in the stands, Grubauer came up big on a Buffalo power play late in the third to keep the one-goal lead intact. 

What's Next? The Capitals have a quick turnaround and have to hit the road for a Saturday night game in Toronto against the Maple Leafs. After that, it's a long layoff before they return to the ice against the New York Islanders on Thursday, Dec. 1.

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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.