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Referee told Trotz it was Orpik's second push, not his first, that cost Caps in coach's challenge

Referee told Trotz it was Orpik's second push, not his first, that cost Caps in coach's challenge

Monday’s game between the Caps and Dallas Stars was not without controversy. Less than two minutes into the game, Devin Shore appeared to block Braden Holtby’s path in the crease allowing for a wraparound attempt that Shore was eventually able to knock into the net to give Dallas the early lead.

Barry Trotz immediately challenged for goalie interference, but the goal stood because Brooks Orpik pushed Shore into the crease. You can read more on the challenge here.

“I knew it was going to be close,” Trotz said. “Originally we see Brooks pushes or crosschecks their guy a little bit into the crease. [Shore] doesn't really try to get out of there. He was just sort of standing there and he wasn't trying to get out.”

RELATED: Seeing Holtby pulled was 'biggest disappointment' of Monday's loss

While Orpik certainly did push Shore into the crease, Shore also makes no effort to leave which prompted Trotz to challenge the goal. After losing the challenge, Trotz said the referee explained to him that the deciding factor was not the initial push, but what happened afterward.

“[Orpik] gives him another little shot because he's on top of our goalie. If he doesn't do that I think it probably comes back our way,” Trotz said. “Even the referee says that's close, the only reason I say no is Brooks gave him a sort of a little second one.”

Washington ultimately lost on Monday because of their poor start to the game. The Caps dug themselves a 3-0 deficit before the team began to turn things around in the second period. If the first goal had been taken off the board, perhaps it could have given the Caps the wakeup call they needed in the early going.

Despite knowing the call would be close, Trotz knew it was a gamble worth taking.

“[Shore’s] effort level to get out of the crease wasn't great,” Trotz said. “I knew it was going to be close, we knew that was going to be a little bit, but I would do it again.”

MORE CAPITALS: CAPITALS' HOME STREAK HALTED AT 15 GAMES AFTER COMEBACK FALLS SHORT AGAINST STARS

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Prediction recap: Caps pull out narrow Metropolitan Division win

Prediction recap: Caps pull out narrow Metropolitan Division win

The Caps earned two critical points to increase their lead in the Metropolitan Division race thanks to a 2-1 shootout win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday.

Here’s a recap of the three bold predictions for the game.

1. Neither team will score on the power play - Correct

Columbus had no power play opportunities until the third period when the Caps took two penalties. The Blue Jackets, however, failed to cash in. Washington, meanwhile, had three opportunities for the game, but was held off the board.

RELATED: Shootout practice pays off for Caps

2. Washington will score at least three goals - Wrong

Sergei Bobrovsky looked every bit the Vezina contender as he turned aside a season-high 44 shots he faced limiting the Caps to only one goal. Good thing Washington has Braden Holtby. Holtby matched Bobrovsky by giving up only one goal for the game.

3. Brett Connolly, Lars Eller or Andre Burakovsky will score - Wrong

The third line had its worst game since Burakovsky’s return showing the J.J. curse is alive and well.

2017 Results: Like both Columbus and Pittsburgh, I earned a point on Thursday but failed to gain any ground.

Correct: 36
Wrong: 64.5
Push: 3

MORE CAPITALS: Caps put distance between them and divisional foes

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Shootout practice pays off for Caps on Thursday night

Shootout practice pays off for Caps on Thursday night

On Monday, Capitals Coach Barry Trotz dedicated a portion of practice to working on the shootout.

Why?

A couple of reasons: The Caps haven’t been good at them this season and that extra point might just come in handy given how tight the standings have become.

On Thursday night, that extra work paid off in a pivotal 2-1 shootout win over the visiting Blue Jackets.

RELATED: Caps put distance between them and divisional foes

With the win, the Caps improved to 2-5 in games decided by the skills competition. More important, though, it helped Washington grow its lead over Pittsburgh and Columbus to two and three standings points, respectively, with nine games left to play.

“Winning in a shootout, which we have not been good at all year, Holts was the guy,” Trotz said, referring to Braden Holtby, who had not won a shootout in five tries. “That was great. That extra point might be huuuge. It might be absolutely huge.”

Of the practice, Trotz said: “It’s paying dividends. We’re working on parts of our game that we need to make sure that we are good at.”

The Caps’ leading scorer and penalty shot specialist, T.J. Oshie, scored the only goal in the shootout. In the 2014 Sochi Games, Oshie beat Bobrovsky four times in penalty shots to lift the United States over Russia. Three times he went 5-hole.

“I thought about it for five seconds, maybe,” Oshie said Thursday night. “I was going to come in and do something different from what I remembered. I saw something different and decided to go 5-hole.”

Oshie added: “I felt pretty fortunate, and luckily that’s the only one we needed because Holts shut the door on the other end.”

Holtby, meantime, made saves on both of the Columbus attempts that were on goal. Another missed the net.

Afterward, the veteran goalie credited the extra work on Monday. In that practice session, Trotz asked Oshie, Nicklas Backstrom, Kevin Shattenkirk, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Alex Ovechkin and Justin Williams to take two shots each on Holtby, who was watched closely by the coaching staff.

“We worked on it a little bit,” Holtby said. “It’s something that I try not to fiddle around with too much because I don’t want it creeping into my regular game because a breakaway is totally different than a shootout. But with the race getting pretty close, [in case we had] another one, we worked on it a couple of days ago in practice to try and get a little better at that for the stretch run.”

And they did get a little better at it. And just at the right time.

MORE CAPITALS: Caps win goalie duel in shootou