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With playoffs in sight, Caps try to focus on task at hand


With playoffs in sight, Caps try to focus on task at hand

When a team takes an 18-point lead in their division, they won't play very many meaningful games down the stretch of the regular season. That won't be the case for the Capitals on Tuesday night, however, when they face the Carolina Hurricanes.

With a win Tuesday, the Caps will clinch a spot in the playoffs. While a playoff berth has been all but a forgone conclusion for much of the season, for a Caps team in desperate need of a spark to jump-start them out of their current funk, Tuesday's game could be just the sort of motivation the team needs.

"It's nice to have that opportunity to clinch this early," Karl Alzner said. "I didn't realize we were that close. ... We haven't been that great lately so I think this will maybe kind of put us over the hump hopefully and get us geared up towards the final push and get our game on track."

While clinching a playoff berth would be nice, the main goal for this team right now is to get back on track. The Caps come into Tuesday's contest having lost two in a row and five of their last 10. That's not the kind of stretch we have come to expect from an otherwise dominant season.

Should the Caps lose on Tuesday, they will still make the playoffs, but it would be another defeat in a stretch in which the losses are beginning to pile up.

"Obviously clinching is important, but it's more important just to be playing your best going into the playoffs," Jay Beagle said. For a team with a checkered playoff history, going into the postseason cold is not an ideal way to start.

RELATED: Carlson won't return to lineup until he feels 100 percent

Beagle's comments echo those of head coach Barry Trotz who remains focused on just getting his team back to the level they were playing at earlier in the season.

"We need to win a hockey game. We've lost our last two, one in overtime and then obviously one in San Jose, so we need to get a win and get on track here."

With only 14 games remaining in the regular season including Tuesday's against Carolina, you can expect Trotz to emphasize the importance of each game as he tries to keep the team from looking ahead at what will no doubt be a critical postseason for the franchise.

"The playoffs are going to sneak up on us fairly quickly," Trotz said. "I know guys are looking forward to that. I'm sure we'll get there, but at the same time we have to focus on the task at hand. The task at hand is the Hurricanes tonight and we can't get too far ahead of ourselves

"We gotta just rectify what we need to do in our game and play the way we need to play."

Lines at morning skate:

Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Jay Beagle

Andre Burakovsky - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie

Jason Chimera - Marcus Johansson - Justin Williams

Daniel Winnik - Mike Richards - Tom Wilson

Extras: Michael Latta, Stanislav Galiev

Karl Alzner - Matt Niskanen

Brooks Orpik - Dmitry Orlov

Nate Schmidt - Taylor Chorney

Extra: Mike Weber

Braden Holtby (starting), Philipp Grubauer

MORE CAPITALS: Looking for a spark, Trotz shuffles lines

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Capitals vs. Flyers: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

Capitals vs. Flyers: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

The Washington Capitals are facing off against the Philadelphia Flyers in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, March 24 at 12:30 p.m. The Capitals are recovering from a 1-2 loss against the Minnesota Wild, and the Philadelphia Flyers are playing the Islanders at 1 p.m. on Saturday, but beat the Blackhawks 3-1 on Thursday.

Here’s everything you need to know to watch the Flyers play the Capitals on Sunday afternoon.


What: Washington Capitals vs. Philadelphia Flyers
Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.
When: 12:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: You can live stream Capitals vs. Flyers on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the NBC Sports App.
Radio: Caps 24/7 Radio, 106.7 The Fan FM


10:00 AM: Capitals Championship Parade 
11:00 AM: 2019 Caps Journey to the Cup Part 1
11:30 AM: Caps FaceOff Live
12:00 PM: Caps FaceOff Live [NBC Sports Washington Plus]
3:00 PM: Caps Postgame Live
3:30 PM: Caps Overtime Live
3:30 PM: Caps Overtime Live [NBC Sports Washington Plus]


Michal Kempny, lower body injury as of March 19

Michael Raffl, undisclosed injury as of March 20
Samuel Morin, illness as of March 18
Michal Neuvirth, lower body injury as of Jan. 3


Brett Connolly (20 goal, 22 assists, 42 points): Connolly was the only Capital to put a point on the board during Friday’s game against the Minnesota Wild. He scored in the second period, tying the game going into the third. He’s scored three goals in the team’s last five games and has contributed with three assists.

Christian Djoos (1 goal, 7 assists, 8 points): Djoos played against Minnesota on Friday following Michal Kempny’s “indefinite” injury leave. Djoos didn’t contribute to the Caps with any key stats, though he played for almost 17 minutes and had two shots on goal. 


Number of all-time Meetings: 247 games
Regular Season Record: Flyers lead 127-101-19
Last Meeting: Capitals won 5-2 on March 14


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An emotional hangover leaves Capitals flat in 2-1 loss to Wild

An emotional hangover leaves Capitals flat in 2-1 loss to Wild

WASHINGTON – The Capitals were not quite ready to play on Friday against the Minnesota Wild and maybe you can’t blame them. 

Coming off one of the season’s most intense games, a wild 5-4 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday, one of three games this month against the Presidents’ Trophy winners, Washington didn’t have it for a Wild team it had beaten eight times in a row. That 2-1 defeat offered a lesson they need to carry forward for the final two games of this homestand at Capital One Arena. 

The Capitals (43-24-8, 94 points) couldn’t match the desperation of a Minnesota team that entered the day one point out of a playoff position in the Western Conference. The Wild had to win. Washington would have liked a win. The difference showed on the ice.

“It was obviously a different game that way. I think you could tell they got more desperate as the game went on,” goalie Braden Holtby said. “They don't give up much, they're pretty stingy defensively. After coming off some emotional games lately I think we didn't ramp it up enough for this one, for their situation, how they were playing. It was a close game. It was one that we'd like to play a bit better, but we still did a lot of good things."

They just didn’t do enough of them consistently. The Philadelphia Flyers (80 points) are on the fringe of the playoff race in the Eastern Conference and down to their final gasps of breath. Expect a similar effort from them on Sunday afternoon when they visit Capital One Arena. For the Capitals, who lead the Pittsburgh Penguins and the New York Islanders by three points (93), they need a win on this four-game homestand.

Another loss will suddenly put the Metropolitan Division back in play for multiple teams. The Islanders also have an extra game remaining and know they play in Washington on the final day of the regular season April 6. 

“We can use this and learn from it,” defenseman Nick Jensen said. “These teams are desperate for points and we still need to be, too.”

The Capitals weren’t bad; they just didn’t match Minnesota’s level. They were 0-for-3 on the power play, and on two of those attempts, didn’t generate any shots on goal. A couple of mistakes – a Brooks Orpik misplay late in the first period and a Matt Niskanen turnover in the neutral zone – led directly to goals by Jordan Greenway and Luke Kunin. Holtby stopped 25 of 27 shots.

But it never felt like enough. Brett Connolly tipped home a shot from Jensen in the second period. But there weren’t enough puck battles won, there weren’t enough pucks sent behind the Minnesota defensemen. It was an average game and that was never going to be enough tonight. The Wild moved into sole possession of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Capitals stayed where they were in the standings.  

“That was a very intense game [against Tampa Bay], three games in four days for us, but that's a game that they deserved to win more than us,” Capitals coach Todd Reirden said. “Our execution level and desperation wasn't as high as theirs was and they were able to convert on a couple more of their chances than we did.”

Added captain Alex Ovechkin: "Everybody needs points right now, and it doesn't matter who you play against, it's not going to be an easy one, especially a team who fights for a playoff spot. It's playoff hockey. I don't think we were ready tonight, and the blame's on us."