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Holtby back in net as Capitals face Islanders on road

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Holtby back in net as Capitals face Islanders on road

The Capitals (41-10-4, 86 points) travel to Brooklyn to face the New York Islanders (30-19-6, 66 points) tonight at Barclays Center (6:30 p.m. pregame, CSN). Here are our AAA Keys to the Game:

Return of Holtby: Braden Holtby (35-6-3, 2.16 GAA, .926 SP) returns after a one-game, four-day break and says he’s feeling strong after the break.

“It’s a little weird having practice where you feel fresh and have energy,” said Holtby, who is likely to start each of the next six games. “It’s kind of nice to work on a few things and now it’s back to work.”

Holtby was pulled after allowing four goals in the second period of the Caps’ 4-3 loss in Dallas on Saturday and has allowed three or more goals in each of his last three starts after.

“I don’t know if that’s him or us,” Caps coach Barry Trotz said. “I want to put it on us. When we weren’t so sharp he was very sharp. … I’m not blaming Holts at all. He’s saved our can a few times this year.”

Where the Caps stand: The Caps have won six of their last seven games and hold a five-point lead on the Chicago Blackhawks in the NHL standings, a 14-point lead on the Florida Panthers in the Eastern Conference and a 16-point lead on the Rangers in the Metro Division.

Where the Islanders stand: The Islanders sit third in the Metro Division, but are just one point ahead of the seventh-place Devils, and two ahead of the eighth-place Penguins and ninth-place Lightning. The Isles have won three of their last four.

Season series: The Caps have won both meetings, winning 4-1 in Brooklyn on Jan. 7 and 3-2 Feb. 4 at Verizon. Alex Ovechkin provided the winning goal in both games and has 28 goals and 43 points in 39 career games against the Isles.

In addition to leading the NHL with 1,662, the Isles have nine players with 20 or more points, led by center John Tavares, who is tied for the team lead in goals (21) and leads the team with 46 points.

“They’re deep,” Caps coach Barry Trotz said. “They have a lot of people who can hurt you. Their defense can really shoot it and they play hard every night. We respect the Islanders and how hard they play. We know it’s going to be a battle.”

Special teams: The Caps rank first in the NHL on the power play (23.7 percent) but went 0-for-5 against the Kings on Tuesdayand have just three power-play goals in their last nine games (3-for-33). The Islanders rank 10th on the power play (19.8 percent) and have notched a power-play in six straight games (7-for-22). The Caps are fifth on the penalty kill (84 percent), while the Isles rank second (87 percent).

Kuz control: With his fourth game-winning goal of the season on Tuesday Evgeny Kuznetsov now has 20 points in his last 14 games (3 goals, 17 assists).

Bura-cuda: Andre Burakovsky’s two points against the Kings gives him 17 points in his last 14 games (8 goals, 9 assists). He has at least one point in 12 of his last 14 games.

Chim dog: It was an empty netter but Jason Chimera now has scored a goal in three of his last four games.

Mojo rising: Marcus Johansson has earned four points in his last four games (1 goal, 3 assists) and has been a force on the Caps’ third line between left wing Jason Chimera and right wing Tom Wilson.

“He’s done a terrific job,” Trotz said. “There are little plays coming into his game that are really important. He’s given us a good defensive line; he’s given us a good offensive line. Marcus has grown in a lot of ways and it gives us a lot of flexibility.”

Shot machine: Ovechkin’s 10 shots against the Kings marked the fourth time this season he has tallied 10 or more shots in a game.

[RELATED: NFL receiver Roddy White tweets he's an Ovechkin fan]

Here are projected lineups for both teams:

CAPITALS
Forward lines

Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie  
Andre Burakovsky - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Justin Williams  
Jason Chimera - Marcus Johansson - Tom Wilson  
Brooks Laich - Mike Richards - Michael Latta  

Defense pairs

Matt Niskanen - Karl Alzner  
Nate Schmidt - John Carlson  
Brooks Orpik - Dmitry Orlov  

Goaltenders

Braden Holtby  (starter) - Philipp Grubauer  

Injured: Jay Beagle (upper body) 
Scratched: Stanislav Galiev    


ISLANDERS 
Forward lines

Mikhail Grabovski - John Tavares - Ryan Strome  
Nikolay Kulemin - Frans Nielsen - Kyle Okposo  
Anders Lee - Brock Nelson - Josh Bailey  
Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck  

Defense pairs

Nick Leddy - Johnny Boychuk  
Brian Strait - Travis Hamonic  
Thomas Hickey - Marek Zidlicky  

Goaltenders

Thomas Greiss  (starter) -  Jaroslav Halak  

Injured: Calvin de Haan (lower body), Eric Boulton (lower body), Adam Pelech (upper body) 
Scratched: Jean-Francois Berube, Steve Bernier  

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Brian MacLellan got his day with the Stanley Cup over the weekend

Brian MacLellan got his day with the Stanley Cup over the weekend

Washington Capitals GM Brian MacLellan finally got his day. 

Over the weekend, MacLellan played host to the Stanley Cup, taking it home to his offseason house in Minnesota. 

MacLellan brought the Cup to Powderhorn Park, where a youth hockey tournament was being put on by the Herb Brooks Foundation. 

MacLellean talked with local media about the experience:

"It's a fun day, a fun day to see people react to the Cup," MacLellan told FOX 9 TV. "You know, it brings a lot of smiles to people's faces, people that sometimes don't get a chance to get close to it are getting an opportunity and it's fun to watch them enjoy it."

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This Caps Stanley Cup tattoo has everyone's beat

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This Caps Stanley Cup tattoo has everyone's beat

Since the Washington Capitals won the Stanley Cup for the first time over one month ago, Caps fans, (and players), have rushed to their local tattoo parlor to get some ink commemorating the win.

We've seen the classic Capitals logo with the Stanley Cup, but nothing that comes close to the masterpiece that is Shane Peacher's tattoo.

Peacher tweeted to Joe B and Courtney Laughlin the finished tat: a work of art featuring Alex Ovechkin kissing the Stanley Cup for the first time as it's hoisted over his head.

Joe B replied making sure Shane had enough room on his other tricep for next year.

Shane replied that he's thinking of Evgeny Kuznetsov's iconic celebration that has since been dubbed the "birdman."

Shane got his Caps tattoo at the Helix Tattoo Lodge in Rising Sun, Maryland, by tattoo artist, Justin Holcombe.

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