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Capitals outlast Devils in low-scoring affair to set franchise record

Capitals outlast Devils in low-scoring affair to set franchise record

Final score: Washington Capitals 1, New Jersey Devils 0

How it happened: There was not much scoring to speak of in this one. Locked in a scoreless tie through two periods, Jakub Vrana finally got onto the scoresheet with a power-play tally. Brett Connolly gave the Devils hope by taking a double-minor late in the third with two minutes for slashing, and another two for unsportsmanlike conduct. In the end, however, New Jersey barely threatened the Caps and got the goose egg they deserved.

What it means: With 14 straight wins at home, the Capitals set a franchise record for consecutive home wins. The last time the Caps lost at Verizon Center was to these New Jersey Devils, who won in a shootout on Dec. 29. When was the last time the Caps lost in regulation at Verizon Center? On Dec. 17 against the Montreal Canadiens.

Goals

Capitals goal: Jakub Vrana (power play) from Evgeny Kuznetsov and John Carlson at 7:21 in the 3rd period. A pass from Kuznetsov was deflected and squirted right in front of the net. Vrana quickly pounced and buried it into the back of the net. Caps 1, Devils 0

3 Stars

1. Jakub Vrana: In a game in which almost nothing stood out, Vrana did. His speed was very evident as he cut through what was otherwise a very sleepy game and scored the only tally of the night.

2. Braden Holtby: Holtby was not called upon much—New Jersey managed only 15 shots on goal for the game—but he was strong when tested. In one flurry in the second period, Holtby managed to pin the puck underneath him and freeze the play leaving the fans chanting, "Holtby! Holtby!"

3. Kevin Shattenkirk: The second game can often be more difficult for a player after a trade because he's had time to learn the new system. Instead of playing purely on instincts, he has to start thinking about what he's doing. Shattenkirk didn't appear to miss a step even with a team-high 21:24 of ice time.

Look ahead: The Caps continue their three-game home stand on Saturday against the Philadelphia Flyers. Then they host the Dallas Stars on Monday.

Tell us what you think: Last season a dominant Capitals team took its foot off the gas down the stretch and never managed to get back to the elite level they had been playing. The team is determined not to do that this year, but in the first game following the trade deadline, they found themselves locked in a tight game to the woeful Devils. Are you worried about the Caps taking their foot off the gas down the stretch of the regular season?

Related: Barry Trotz's message to Capitals after trade deadline

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Playoffs Power Rankings: On to Round two

Playoffs Power Rankings: On to Round two

And then there were eight.

The Caps’ Game 6 victory on Sunday brought to a close the first round of the playoffs. Already, the field looks entirely different than many anticipated.

Washington came into the postseason as the team to beat, but the Caps were given all they could handle by the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Pittsburgh Penguins, meanwhile, made short work of the Columbus Blue Jackets in what was expected to be one of the most competitive series of the first round. This begs the question, are the Penguins now the frontrunners in the East despite ceding home-ice advantage to Washington and not having Kris Letang?

SEE THE UPDATED STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS POWER RANKINGS HERE

The West is now wide open after the Nashville Predators’ stunning sweep of the Chicago Blackhawks. Coming into the playoffs, the St. Louis Blues had the longest odds of any team to win the Cup because their path went through the top two seeds in the West. The Blues dispatched the Minnesota Wild in just five games and Chicago is already out. If you put money on St. Louis, you’re probably feeling pretty good right now.

But did Nashville’s sweep show that they are now the frontrunners in the West?

And let's not forget about the Pacific. The Anaheim Ducks have yet to lose this postseason after a sweep of the Calgary Flames while Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers are out to prove that experience is overrated.

Find out where all eight of the remaining teams stand in this week’s Stanley Cup Playoffs Power Rankings.

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Prediction recap: Washington survives Toronto's best shot

Prediction recap: Washington survives Toronto's best shot

The Maple Leafs made a push for Game 7, but in the end they fell in Game 6 as the Caps took the game and the series on Sunday.

Here's a recap of the three bold predictions.

1. Toronto will score in the third period - Correct

The hockey gods would not allow this prediction to be wrong. Did you see that bounce off the boards? Not only did it bounce right into the danger area right in front of the bench, it went to the Maple Leafs’ leading scorer in Auston Matthews.

RELATED: 3 key observations: Caps save their best for last

2. Someone will take a penalty against Alex Ovechkin - Wrong

Give Mike Babcock all the credit in the world. Every point where you thought lack of experience would hurt Toronto, it didn’t. That speaks to coaching. I thought the Maple Leafs would try to coax a penalty out of Ovechkin, but would get carried away. Yet, despite their inexperience and the pressure of the moment, Toronto remained very disciplined.

3. If Toronto leads after the first period, the series is going 7 games - Push

For the first time all series, the score after the first period was 0-0. Both teams had chances but looked more tentative than they had earlier in the series. They recognized what was at stake on Sunday and affected the play to a degree.

2017 Results: I expected to see Toronto’s best push in Game 6 and I was not sure how the Caps would respond. Washington’s response late in the game was very impressive and a great sign for Caps fans going forward in the postseason.

Correct: 8
Wrong: 9
Push: 1

MORE CAPITALS: Capitals vs. Penguins schedule announced