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Matt Niskanen scores twice to give the Caps their fifth straight win

Matt Niskanen scores twice to give the Caps their fifth straight win

The Caps won their fifth straight game on Tuesday as Matt Niskanen scored the game-winner and the insurance tally in a 4-2 win over the New York Islanders.

How it happened: The Islanders struck first in the first period thanks to a bad line change by the Caps. There appeared to be some confusion on the bench over who should be on the ice and Nelson took advantage of all the room he found in front of him, teeing up a beautiful wrist shot to the top shelf. Brett Connolly responded in the second period. Lars Eller did the dirty work with a physical breakout and Connolly deflected in the centering pass. Evgeny Kuznetsov and Jakub Vrana teamed up on the power play later in the second to set up Justin Williams to give the Caps the lead, but the Islanders tied the game up as Nikolay Kulemin deflected a Nick Leddy slap shot past Holtby.

The third period turned into the Matt Niskanen show as he scored twice in the final frame to give the Caps the 4-2 win.

What it means: Tuesday's win was Washington's fifth straight, tied for the longest win streak of the season. The Caps have now improved their record within the Metropolitan Division to 3-4-2 on the season. Washington has earned points in 11 of their last 12 games against the Islanders (8-1-3) and in seven straight road games on the Island (5-0-2).

Scary moment: Islanders forward Casey Cizikas was rushed off the ice early in the first period after taking a skate to the arm. Just one minute into the game Cizikas was on the forecheck against Nicklas Backstrom when he fell to the ice. His momentum carried him along the boards into a scrum where it appears teammate Anders Lee stepped on his left arm (watch the replay here). As Cizikas was rushed to the locker room, he held a towel wrapped tightly around the arm. Proving hockey players are different from normal people, however, Cizikas actually returned to the bench later in the first period and resumed playing.

You shall not pass: Braden Holtby let in two goals on the night, but he slammed the door shut on the Islanders in the third period with three phenomenal saves including a juggling catch right on the goal line. Eleven of Holtby's 25 saves came in the final frame as he protected the Caps' lead.

Nisky business: Niskanen entered Tuesday's game with no goals this season. With his two goals on the night, he now leads the team's defensemen in goals.

Third line’s the charm: The Caps' third line of Connolly, Eller and Vrana combined for four points on the night. Connolly scored his third goal of the season to first get the Caps on the board. Eller played what was his best game as a Cap and Vrana earned the first two assists of his NHL career. Andre Burakovsky, meanwhile, was a healthy scratch for the first time this season.

Hot and cold: With his second-period assist on Vrana's goal, Kuznetsov extended his point streak to five games. Of his 15 points this season, six of them have now come in the past five games. Islanders star John Tavares, meanwhile, saw his five-game point streak snapped as the Caps managed to keep him off the scoresheet.

Look ahead: The Caps wrap up their brief two-game road swing on Friday in Carolina against the Hurricanes. Then it’s a quick turnaround as they host Carey Price and the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.

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4 things to know for the Capitals’ matchup against undefeated Colorado

4 things to know for the Capitals’ matchup against undefeated Colorado

The Capitals (3-1-2) snapped a three-game losing streak on Saturday and will look to stay in the win column on Monday in a game against the Colorado Avalanche (4-0-0). You can catch all the action on NBC Sports Washington with Caps FaceOff Live kicking things off at 4 p.m. before Caps Pregame Live begins at 4:30 p.m. to bring you up to the 5 p.m. puck drop. Stick with NBC Sports Washington afterward for Caps Postgame Live, D.C. Sports Live and Caps Overtime Live.

Here are four things to know for Saturday’s game.

Colorado is undefeated

The Avalanche is one of two teams left in the NHL that has not suffered a loss of any kind. Of their four wins, only one of them was not in regulation and that also happened to be the only game Philipp Grubauer did not play in net.

All four wins also happen to be at home as Monday’s game will be Colorado’s first on the road this season.

Washington will face former Caps Andre Burakovsky and Philipp Grubauer

Things seem to be going well in Burakovsky’s first season with the Avalanche. The winger has two goals and two assists in four games and has scored the game-winner in each of the past two games.

Burakovsky was a restricted free agent in the offseason and his contract carried a large qualifying offer which the Caps could not afford. The team traded his rights to  Colorado for a second and a third-round draft pick as well as a prospect on an expiring contract.

In net, Grubauer enters his second season with Colorado and first as the undisputed starter of the team. He earned the job after last year’s playoff performance in which he won seven games, posted a .925 save percentage and brought the Avalanche to within one win of advancing to the conference final.

In three games this season, Grubauer is 3-0-0 with a .931 save percentage.

The best line in hockey?

Colorado boasts one of the top lines, if not the outright best line in hockey with Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen. All three players have had their fair share of success against Washington in their careers.

Landeskog has scored 14 points in just 13 games against the Caps, MacKinnon has 13 points in 11 games and Rantanen has seven points in five games.

The Caps have historically been a difficult matchup for Colorado

Washington’s last three games were against the Dallas Stars (twice) and the Nashville Predators, two teams the Caps have not fared well against historically. The roles are reversed for Monday’s game as this time it's the Caps who have been the thorn in the side of their opponent.

Colorado has lost nine of its last 10 meetings with Washington with its last win coming back on Nov. 16, 2017. The last win before was four years prior in November 2013.

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How to watch Capitals vs. Avalanche: Time, TV channel, live stream

How to watch Capitals vs. Avalanche: Time, TV channel, live stream

The Washington Capitals bounced back from a disappointing loss to the Nashville Predators, where they gave up four leads in a 6-5 contest, with a commanding 4-1 win against the Dallas Stars on Saturday night to end a three-game losing skid. Now, they welcome the Colarado Avalanche to town Monday night. 

The Avalanche have gotten off to a perfect 4-0 start this season, a record which was preserved in a 3-2 overtime win against the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday night. Ex-Capitals left winger Andre Burakovsky netted the game-winner while goaltender Pavel Francouz stopped 34 of 36 shots. 

Washington's John Carlson notched a goal and an assist while Evgeny Kuznetsov scored his second goal of the year in the win against Dallas, while Ilya Samsonov impressed in his second career start in net. He's now stopped 49 of the first 51 shots faced in his young NHL career. The Caps will look for their key contributors to perform against the undefeated visitors.

Here's everything you need to know about Monday evening's game, with the opening face-off coming at 5:00 p.m. live on NBC Sports Washington.  

Capitals vs. Avalanche: How to watch

What: Washington Capitals vs. Colarado Avalanche, Game 7 of the 2019-20 NHL Regular Season

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington D.C. 

When: Monday, Oct. 14, 2019 at 5:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: The Capitals vs. Avalanche game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (NBC Sports channel finder)

Live Stream: You can live stream Capitals at Predators on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

RadioCaps 24/7 Radio

CAPITALS vs. AVALANCHE TV SCHEDULE

4:00 PM: Caps FaceOff Live

4:30 PM: Caps Pregame Live

5:00 PM: Avalanche @ Capitals Live

7:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live

8:00 PM: D.C. Sports Live

8:30 PM: Caps Overtime Live

Capitals vs. Avalanche Injury Report

Capitals: D Michal Kempny, hamstring injury, day-to-day

Avalanche: C J.T. Compher, lower body, day-to-day; D Ian Cole, hamstring, day-to-day

CAPITALS vs. Avalanche PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Michal Kempny, D, Washington Capitals: The defender could make his season debut as he recovers from a hamstring injury. He felt good after an optional practice on Sunday and said if he doesn't play Monday, he'll be back soon enough. His return will bring a boost to the defensive backline for the Caps. 

John Carlson, D, Washington Capitals (2 G, 8 A, 10 Pts): Carlson has been quite the provider from up top on offense, leading the NHL in assists along with points leader Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers. Nobody else has more than four assists on the Capitals. 

Andre Burakovsky, LW, Colarado Avalanche (2 G, 2 A, 4 Pts): Burakovsky not only scored the game-winner Saturday night against Arizona, but also nothed an assist and had four shots on goal. After spending his first five seasons in the nation's capital, the Avalanche traded second and third-round picks in the 2020 NHL Draft and forward Scott Kosmachuk for his services in June. 

CAPITALS vs. AVALANCHE SERIES HISTORY 

Number of meetings: 85

All-time series record: Caps lead 44-32-9

Last meeting: Caps won 4-3 (OT) (4/7/19)

Last 10: Caps lead 9-1

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