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Grubauer's stellar performance not enough as Caps drop goalie duel to Rangers

Grubauer's stellar performance not enough as Caps drop goalie duel to Rangers

Final score: Washington Capitals 1, New York Rangers 2

How it happened: Philipp Grubauer did everything he could to weather the storm of the first period, turning aside 18 of 19 shots in the opening 20 minutes. Alex Ovechkin tied the game in the second period with a power play goal. The Rangers came out on top, however, as Mats Zuccarello scored right off of a faceoff in the third period.

What it means: The Caps are 0-1-1 since returning from the bye week with two straight losses, the first time they have lost two straight since Dec. 27-29. Washington is 0-2-0 against the Rangers this season.


Rangers goal: Ryan McDonagh from Rick Nash and Derek Stepan at 7:49 in the first. McDonagh fired a shot on net forcing a rebound from Grubauer. Several Caps had a chance to clear it out of danger, but McDonagh beat them all to it and fired his own rebound into the back of the net. Caps 0, Rangers 1

Capitals goal: Alex Ovechkin (power play) from Lars Eller and Evgeny Kuznetsov at 17:24 in the second. Eller provided a nice cross-ice feed to find Ovechkin in the office. The captain wristed a shot that deflected off of Nick Holden, fooling Lundqvist. Caps 1, Rangers 1

Rangers goal: Mats Zuccarello from Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider at 8:37 in the third. Zibanejad found the puck on his stick right off of an offensive zone faceoff and weaved his way behind the defense before feeding an open Zuccarello in the slot. Caps 1, Rangers 2

3 Stars

1. Philipp Grubauer: This game could have gotten ugly early if not for the incredible effort of Grubauer. The Caps' netminder turned aside 18 of 19 shots in as opneing frame that was completely dominated by the Rangers.

2. Henrik Lundqvist: The Caps started tilting the ice in their favor in the second period. While Ovechkin was able to tie the game, Lundqvist prevented the Caps from taking control with his fantastic effort in net. He came up big in the final minute as well with a game-saving denial of Marcus Johansson on the doorstep.

3. Mika Zibanejad: Zuccarello's game-winning goal was all effort by Zibanejad who took the puck behind the defense right off the faceoff. He looked like he was a stop ahead of everybody else on that play and it gave the Rangers the win.

Look ahead: Washington will come home briefly for a Tuesday practice before heading to Philadelphia for a game against the Flyers Wednesday night. The Caps then face Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers in Washington on Friday in the first leg of another back-to-back with the second leg coming on Saturday in Nashville.

Tell us what you think: Even with Braden Holtby on the bench, Saturday's game turned into a duel between the goalies as both Grubauer and Lundqvist dominated in net to keep their teams in the game. Which goalie had the more impressive performance?

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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.