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Tom Wilson puts his butt on the line for the Caps

Tom Wilson puts his butt on the line for the Caps

It wasn’t ideal shot-blocking form, but Tom Wilson wasn’t worried about aesthetics when threw himself in front of a Michael Del Zotto slap shot in the second period of Saturday’s 2-1 overtime win against the Flyers.

The blast, taken from the top of circle, ended up striking Wilson on his backside—just to the side of the padding that protects the tailbone.

In other words, the location couldn't have been worse.

“It’s sore. It actually hit me right beside my pad, right on the tailbone,” he said before cracking: “I got a pretty funny mark there that the boys are enjoying.”

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Wilson, though, did not allow the discomfort to prevent him from producing one of his most effective performances of the season.

“Tom had a real terrific game,” Coach Barry Trotz said.

Although Wilson didn’t factor into either goal, he was all over the score sheet. The fourth line winger had two shots on goal, one of which skittered just inches from going into the net. He notched a game-high nine hits. He also drew a penalty and took one, too.

“I thought there was a little bit of sell job on the penalty,” Trotz said of Wilson’s roughing minor on Brandon Manning in the third period. “At the same time, I think the guys on the bench said, ‘Hey, Tom’s killed a lot of penalties [this season]. We didn’t deserve that one. Let’s get this killed.’”

Wilson also played an integral role in shutting down the Flyers’ top line of Jordan Weal-Claude Giroux-Wayne Simmonds.

“Tom did a really good job of keeping that line in tow,” Trotz said. “He sorta set the tone. Simmonds and Giroux are emotional players. They are physical. They are in your face. They play hard. And Tom, [Jay Beagle] and [Daniel Winnik] had a real terrific game shutting that line down.”

But the defining moment of the night for Wilson was the blocked shot. For a couple of reasons: game situation and the price he paid for it.

The block—his only one of the night—came early in the second period of a scoreless game. The contest was chippy and physical and tight-checking and...teetering.

And that’s why Wilson found a way to get in front of the shot.

As he knelt on the ice in discomfort, several teammates came over and tapped him with their sticks as a way of saying, 'Thanks.' Right on the butt, of course.

Wilson did not miss a shift.

“The only happy part is that when it hits you, it’s not getting through you,” Wilson said. “But I think you’ve got to be a bit of psycho if you like taking the rubber and blocking those shots.”

He added: “But you pay the price, get in the way. A lot of this club will do that. That’s what makes us so good. We pay the price for the team and for [Braden Holtby] whenever we can we try to get in the way and turn that shot away.”

MORE CAPITALS: Caps survive slugfest to extend home win streak

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Capitals vs. Predators: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, how to watch

Capitals vs. Predators: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, how to watch

After sitting out the Capitals' 4-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens due to a suspension for skipping the All-Star Game, Alex Ovechkin returns to game action on Wednesday for Washington's home contest against the Predators.

Nashville has dropped three of its last four while the Capitals are riding a four-game winning streak.

Here's everything you need to know before puck drop.

CAPITALS vs. PREDATORS: HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals vs. Nashville Predators

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: Wednesday, January 29, 7:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: The Capitals-Predators game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Predators game on NBC Sports Washington live stream page.

Radio: Caps Radio 24/7

CAPITALS-PREDATORS TV SCHEDULE:

6:30 PM: Caps Faceoff Live

7:00 PM: Caps Pregame Live

7:30 PM: Capitals vs. Predators

10:00 PM: Caps Postgame Live

10:30 PM: Caps Overtime Live

CAPITALS-PREDATORS INJURY REPORT:

Capitals: None

Canadiens: Ryan Ellis (upper body/OUT), Colton Sissons (upper body/OUT)

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What makes Alex Ovechkin so hard to stop?

What makes Alex Ovechkin so hard to stop?

With Alex Ovechkin’s one-game suspension over, the NHL now once again faces the seemingly impossible task of trying to find a way to stop the Great 8. Even at 34 years old, Ovechkin remains one of the top goal scorers in the NHL with 34 on the season. He is currently on pace for 56 goals which is almost unfathomable for a player of his age.

Many players in the NHL catch fire before defenses begin to figure them out or until Father Time catches up to them. Coaches and defenses figure out ways to keep star players in check. But not Ovechkin.

“You feel like you're covering him, but he always finds a way,” Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi said. “He needs just a tiny bit of room to score goals and that's why he has so many goals.”

Not only is Ovechkin the leading active scorer in the NHL by a wide margin -- he leads second place Patrick Marleau by 133 goals -- but he is such a prolific scorer that he could potentially make a run at the untouchable goal record held by Wayne Gretzky.

It is not as if Ovechkin is catching anyone by surprise at this point. Teams know what they are in for when they play the Caps and still they cannot find a way to slow down this grey-haired, 34-year-old veteran player.

It is not hard to figure out the biggest reason for Ovechkin's success: his shot. Once Ovechkin gets his shot off, it is hard for a goalie to get in front of it.

“He's not afraid to put anything on net,” Winnipeg Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck said. “He's got a really good release and if you give him space, he'll take it and he'll make you pay for it.”

“It kind of curves, changing direction every time so it's pretty hard to stop for a goalie,” Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy said. “Like knuckleball, right? So it's very hard to stop.”

Knowing that his shot is so lethal, the focus of a defense must be to prevent him from getting his shot away in the first place. Doing that, however, is easier said than done.

“It's always a challenge playing against him,” Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said. “He's got that mean streak to his game. When he's coming at full speed it's going to hurt. He gets physical, he gets into the game more. He's always going to get scoring changes, that's how good they are as a team and that's how good he is.”

“He just can score from anywhere inside the blue line so you've got to get up on him,” Calgary Flames defenseman Mark Giordano said. “ It's been pretty impressive to watch him over the years. You sort of think teams would come up with a gameplan to stop him, but you can't.”

That’s a feeling Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy can relate to.

“[The power play] is where I think you have the biggest challenge with that group of five guys and how to frustrate him, maybe to taking that shot away,” Cassidy said. “Five-on-five, we'll play him like anybody else, try to get a body on him as much as possible.”

It is essentially accepted around the league that if you give Ovechkin an opportunity with the puck, he is going to be able to find a way to get his shot off and get on the scoresheet. He does not need much room to shoot and when he does, it's lethal.

There is only so much you can do when a power forward of Ovechkin's size comes barreling down on you. If you play him too tight, he can create space with his physicality. Play him too loose and he will fire shots from anywhere.

That leaves a defense with only a few strategies.

“Try to keep the puck out of his hand is one thing, stay out of the box is another thing,” Hedman said. “He's got that quick release, he's got that one-timer down to a T obviously. … It's just trying to eliminate them to a few a game. You look at a game sheet and he's got 14 shot attempts and two goals. A good player's going to find the net if they get that many chances, so try to eliminate the shot attempts and try to keep the puck out of his hands.”

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