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Braden Holtby can check another item off his to-do list tonight against the Dallas Stars

Braden Holtby can check another item off his to-do list tonight against the Dallas Stars

Over the course of his illustrious career, Braden Holtby has earned at least one victory against 28 different teams.

The one team last year’s Vezina Trophy winner hasn’t defeated? The Dallas Stars, who visit Verizon Center tonight.

Holtby is 0-3-0 in four appearances against the Stars — he did not receive a decision in one game. In addition, his save percentage (.852) and goals against average (4.42) against Dallas represent the worst numbers he’s posted against any single opponent.

So what gives?

In typical Holtby fashion, the unflappable netminder shrugged when his win-loss record versus the Stars was relayed to him following the morning skate.   

“We don’t play them very much,” he said. “Over the years, it hasn’t been too many times. I don’t know? We kinda struggled with them in their rink for a while. But that really doesn’t factor into it; I don’t think three games is a trend over the years. We’re focused on tonight.”

Added Coach Barry Trotz: “I didn’t even know that. To me, he’s going to play goal for the Washington Capitals, and he’s going to win a lot of games. And, at some point, he’ll beat every team in this league more than once. That’s how I look at it.”

The Stars have been a burr under the Caps’ saddle for a long time. Earlier this year, Washington ended a nine-game drought against Dallas with a 4-3 overtime win at American Airlines Center. Jay Beagle scored the game-winner 19 seconds into the extra session; backup goalie Philipp Grubauer got the win.

Tonight, Holtby and the Caps will look to end another drought…and extend a historic streak.

Washington has not defeated Dallas here since Nov. 30, 2006. (The Stars have won the last five meetings on F Street.)

The Caps, meantime, are looking to stretch their franchise-record home winning streak to 16 games.

And, oh yeah, Holtby will get the chance to check that final team off his list.

“They obviously have a dynamic offensive group, so it’s a matter of keeping them in their own end,” Holtby said. “They are going to get some chances and we need to make sure the ‘D’ and goaltending step up.”

Asked what it would mean to him to have wins against every opponent, Holtby said: “It would show consistency, I guess. But I don’t really think about that too often.”

RELATED: Who got the best deal through the trade deadline?

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Thumbs up, thumbs down: Jakub Vrana looks every bit the NHLer

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USA TODAY Sports

Thumbs up, thumbs down: Jakub Vrana looks every bit the NHLer

 

Washington earned its first victory of the preseason with a 4-2 win in Montreal. The Canadiens battled back from a 2-0 deficit, but Devante Smith-Pelly scored the game-winner late in the third period.

Here are the players who stood out for the Caps:

Thumbs up

Jakub Vrana: Vrana was a factor as soon as the puck dropped. He showed good speed and created several early opportunities. He even recorded a goal as he tried to set up Evgeny Kuznetsov in the slot. The pass deflected off a defenseman’s stick and into the net. This game was a big step forward for Vrana’s chances of landing in the top-six and two steps forward for him making the team.

RELATED: IS OVECHKIN SWITCHING GEAR BRANDS? 

Evgeny Kuznetsov: I would say Kuznetsov looks like a lock to make the roster. When this game started, there were times where he made everyone around him look like they were going at only half-speed.

Madison Bowey: Bowey very easily could have scored with a good early opportunity from the high-slot even if Carey Price made it look like a routine save. Even so, Bowey showed very good offensive instincts and earned an assist on Kuznetsov’s goal with the breakout pass. His defensive game was not as strong, but overall it was a good night that may have just earned him the inside track on roster spot.

Pheonix Copley: If the Capitals are considering trading Philipp Grubauer, they will have some peace of mind given how well Copley performed. He calmly stopped 21 of the 20 shots he faced with the only goal coming on a backdoor power play shot from Max Pacioretty. 

Thumbs down

Jyrki Jokipakka: Jokipakka is not just competing for playing time, he is trying to convince Washington to give him a contract. He is no closer to that goal after his performance in Montreal. The Canadiens’ forwards feasted on Jokipakka from start to finish. They were able to maneuver around him with relative ease as he over-committed on dekes and looked slow on his feet.

Penalties: Another 12 penalties. It is going to be a long, long season if this keeps up.

Jonas Siegenthaler: Overall, it was a pretty good night for the Swiss defenseman, but he tried to sit on the wrong bench and that is just embarrassing.


MORE CAPITALS: VRANA IS TRYING TO IGNORE THE PRESSURE

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Is Alex Ovechkin about to switch equipment brands—again?

Is Alex Ovechkin about to switch equipment brands—again?

Although Alex Ovechkin has four more seasons on his contract with the Capitals, the star winger is a free agent when it comes to equipment.

The six-year deal that Ovechkin signed with equipment manufacturer Bauer in 2011 has expired, CSN confirmed on Wednesday.  

In recent days, No. 8 has been spotted at practice experimenting with CCM gear. The Montreal-based equipment company currently has Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid, Brent Burns, Carey Price, John Tavares, among other stars, on its endorsement roster.

Ovechkin, of course, burst onto the NHL scene wearing CCM gear earlier in his career.

On Tuesday, Ovechkin tried out a helmet, gloves and stick from CCM. On Wednesday, he was wearing CCM skates during the morning skate ahead of the Caps' preseason game in Montreal. And, yes, the skates featured his trademark yellow laces.

RELATED: OVECHKIN AND KUZNETSOV TEAM UP FOR PRESEASON GAME IN MONTREAL 

According to Ovechkin’s longtime agent, David Abrutyn, the three-time NHL MVP is weighing his options. In fact, during Wednesday’s practice, Ovi alternated between CCM and Bauer gloves.

“Alex has made no decision regarding his equipment partner, but you can expect him to do so in the near future,” Abrutyn told CSN.

Although Abrutyn was tight-lipped about the particulars, his answer would seem to indicate that Ovechkin could still re-up with Bauer, which counts Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Henrik Lundqvist and Auston Matthews among its big-name endorsers.

Here’s what you need to know about hockey equipment deals: While the top guys do get big paychecks for sporting a certain brand, it’s not NBA sneaker money or, for that matter, life-changing dollars for a player like Ovechkin, who will earn $10 million per season over the next four seasons from the Caps. For a player like Ovi, an equipment deal is mostly about finding the skates, sticks and other gear that he feels puts him in position to perform his best.

And right now, he’s free agent in search of best situation for himself. 

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