Washington Capitals

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Caps survive slugfest with Flyers to extend home win streak

Caps survive slugfest with Flyers to extend home win streak

Final score: Washington Capitals 2, Philadelphia Flyers 1

How it happened: Both teams battled to a scoreless tie through 40 minutes. The Flyers looked like they had taken control with a goal from Sean Couturier less than two minutes into the final period, but Dmitry Orlov answered right back just 1:21 later to tie it at 1. A Michael Del Zotto penalty in overtime proved to be Philadelphia's breaking point as Nicklas Backstrom netted the game-winner.

What it means: The Caps extended their franchise record home win streak to 15 games and their home point streak to 17. They have not lost at Verizon Center in 2017. Washington finished the regular season series against the Flyers with a 3-0-1 record.

Goals

Flyers goal: Sean Couturier from matt read and nick cousins at 1:19 in the third period. A Caps turnover in the offensive zone turned into a rush the other way for the Flyers with Couturier deflecting finishing off a tic-tac-toe play with a deflection to the top shelf. Caps 0, Flyers 1

Caps goal: Dmitry Orlov from Matt Niskanen at 2:40 in the third period. Niskanen forced a turnover in the neutral zone and Orlov pounced, carrying the puck past the blue line and unleashing a monster slap shot to beat Mason. Caps 1, Flyers 1

Caps goal: Nicklas Backstrom (power play) from Kevin Shattenkirk and Alex Ovechkin at 3:25 in overtime. Caps 2, Flyers 1

3 Stars

1. Tom Wilson: These are the kind of games Wilson was made for. Against a team full of irritants, Wilson doled out about as much as the Flyers gave. He was laying out hits (nine for the game) and drew the crowd to its feet after blocking a slap shot off his backside. He also had some great offensive opportunities, sliding the puck through the legs of Steve Mason and wide of the net at one point in the second period.

2. Braden Holtby: The Flyers are a team that likes getting traffic in front of the net. Holtby had to battle a lot of traffic to make his 30 saves on Saturday, but it didn’t seem to affect him at all. Holtby looked smooth in net despite all the pressure from the Flyers.

3. Steve Mason: Mason's career has been plagued by inconsistency, but when he's on, he's on. On Saturday, he was on saving 22 of the 24 shots he saved including a phenomenal save on T.J. Oshie in overtime that hit off his mask.

Look ahead: The Caps finish their three-game home stand on Monday as they host the Dallas Stars. Then it’s off to the west coast for the California road trip where the Caps will visit the Sharks, Kings and Ducks starting on Thursday in San Jose.

Tell us what you think:  Finding goals has not been a problem for Washington on their home win streak. Wins of 5-0, 6-0 were frequent. The last two games at Verizon Center, however, the Caps were held scoreless through the first two periods of the game and managed only three goals combined. Are you worried about the offense?

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Evgeni Kuznetsov glad to see the Caps rely on youth more

Evgeni Kuznetsov glad to see the Caps rely on youth more

The Caps' offseason roster turnover has been well-documented, but Evgeni Kuznetsov doesn't think that's necessarily a bad thing. 

Speaking to Igor Eronko of Sport-Express, Kuznetsov took a more optimistic approach to what'll be a much different looking team come October:

RELATED: PREVIEWING THE METRO DIVISION 

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The 25 most important players for the Caps: No. 21 Devante Smith-Pelly

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USA TODAY Sports

The 25 most important players for the Caps: No. 21 Devante Smith-Pelly

Every player on an NHL team plays a role. Some play bigger roles than others.

In the coming weeks, Jill Sorenson, Tarik El-Bashir and JJ Regan will rank the 25 most important players in the Caps’ organization, from least to most important, weighing factors such as past production, future potential and intangibles. 

Today’s player: No. 21 Devante Smith-Pelly.

Will Devante Smith-Pelly manage to ressurect his career this season?

After getting bought out by the Devils on June 30, Smith-Pelly signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Caps a few days later. The deal will pay him $650,000 in Washington and $300,000 in Hershey.

RELATED: WHY THE CAPS NEED TO WATCH OUT FOR THE BLUE JACKETS

It's a significant paycut from the $1.25 million that Smith-Pelly, 25, earned last season, and the contract offers less job security. But he's got another chance, much like the one the Caps gave to Brett Connolly a year ago, to seize a spot in the bottom six and reestablish himself in the league. Connolly, after being cut loose by the Bruins last summer, took full advantage of his opporrunity here, scoring a career-high 15 goals in 66 games and earning a two-year, $3 million extension from GM Brian MacLellan.    

When training camp opens in mid-September, the Caps are going to need a pair of wingers to play with center Jay Beagle on the fourth line. There will be no shortage of competition for those positions, with Smith-Pelly expected to battle Anthony Peluso and forward prospects Nathan Walker, Chandler Stephenson, Riley Barber, Travis Boyd, Liam O’Brien and perhaps others.

Smith-Pelly would seem to have the inside track based on experience alone. He’s played in 266 NHL regular season games and 24 playoff contests. (Peluso, 28, has played in 142 games, while no one else I mentioned has appeared in more than 14.)

Smith-Pelly, a 6-foot, 214-pound righty, has also had some eyebrow raising stretches in his career. In the 2014 playoffs as a member of the Ducks, he amassed five goals in 12 games while averaging 4.4 hits per. In 2016, he was dealt from Montreal to the Devils late in the season and ended up racking up eight goals and five assists in only 18 games.

So, Smith-Pelly has been productive. He just hasn’t been consistent.

Will that change in Washington? That’s yet to be determined. But we can already surmise this much: he's got a pretty good opportunity in front of him and he's probably running out of chances.

Check out the full list of the Caps most important players as it comes out here and check out previous player profiles below.

— No. 25 Aaron Ness
— No. 24 Chandler Stephenson
— No. 23 Riley Barber
— No. 22 Pheonix Copley