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Photo credit: Rob Carr

Last year, the Capitals’ top defense pair was John Carlson and Brooks Orpik. This year, those two have missed a combined 43 games. Tonight, it was Carlson’s turn again.

“He probably saw the doctors tonight and we’ll probably have an update (Saturday) because I don’t really know yet,” head coach Barry Trotz said. “He’s not 100 percent or he would have played tonight. It is a lingering of the old injury so we just want to have the opportunity to let’s get it settled down or fixed. Whatever we need to do let’s just do it so that it’s not lingering on.”

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Photo: Geoff Burke

As Peter pointed out in the recap, Caps defenseman Matt Niskanen hadn’t scored since the first week of the season, a span of 115 days and 47 games. Sunday against the Flyers, Niskanen scored the game-winning goal.

It was random.

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Photo: @WashCaps

Washington Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner has now played in 423 consecutive games, passing Bob Carpenter for the franchise’s all-time record. Hockey is arguably the most brutal of the top four American sports. Playing just a single 82-season without missing a game is an accomplishment. Alzner’s managed to string four of those together, plus a full 48-game season after the 2012 lockout, and he’s well on his way to doing it again this season again (knock on wood).

Alzner is a reliable and smart player. He uses good skating skills and stick positioning to be successful. And, for five years and counting, he’s been willing to sacrifice his body when the moment calls for it.

The Capitals honored Alzner with a video on the jumbotron during the first period.

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Photos: Amanda Bowen

Karl Alzner put the Capitals up 2-0 over the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night. His effort (and self-described “lucky” goal) earned him third star of that game. When he came out for his curtain call, Alzner pointed to a small fan from across the ice and skated over to him. Alzner threw the puck over the glass and watched the child catch it before giving a thumbs up and fist bump through the glass.

The little boy’s reaction is precious.

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The Caps-Rangers game earlier today was an instant classic. There was an amazing last second game-tying goal by Nicklas Backstrom, a brilliant OTGWG by Alex Ovechkin, and a clutch stop by Braden Holtby and Nate Schmidt on a shot near the goal line. But if there was one play that stuck out to me more than the rest, it was Karl Alzner‘s unselfish shot block.

Let me set the scene. In the second period with the Caps up 2-0, Alzner broke up a J.T. Miller scoring chance with a diving pokecheck. As the play continued, Miller received the puck back from a teammate and looked to score again. Alzner, still laying on the ice from his previous heads up play, did something remarkable.

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Andre Burakovsky Goes to NWHL Game in Buffalo

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Photo: @andreburakovsky

Caps forward Andre Burakovsky showed some love to the National Women’s Hockey League Sunday night. On his time off, the Burracuda went to HarborCenter to watch the Buffalo Beauts take on the New York Riveters. The Capitals arrived in Buffalo Sunday afternoon, a day early ahead of their game against the Sabres Monday night.

The Riveters won 7-3.

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Teeny tiny Tom Wilson.

During the second period of Caps-Canes, Joe Beninati wished us Happy Holidays in the best way possible: by presenting photos of the Caps as adorable kids at Christmas.

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Photo: @joelbaum1

Genuinely caring human Karl Alzner took some time during warm-ups to inconspicuously take a photo through the glass with a fan. It’s adorable.

He just made her an Alznermaniac for life.

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Midway through the third period of Monday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers, Dmitry Orlov turned the puck over at center ice and started a wild chain of events. The Capitals, in the middle of a shift change, watched helplessly as Oilers’ stars Nail Yakupov and Taylor Hall raced in alone on Braden Holtby.

But the Oilers didn’t score! Or even get a shot off. Hall fumbled Yakupov’s pass and as the Oilers regained possession of the puck, Karl Alzner— playing man-to-man defense against Teddy Purcell — blocked a shot from the point with his shin pads.

The puck squirted to center ice and sprung Alzner, he of 14 career NHL goals, on a semi-breakaway.

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Photos: Amanda Bowen

On Tuesday afternoon, the Capitals celebrated all twelve months of the year with Homeward Trails’ Animal Rescue dogs for the 2015-16 Caps Canine Calendar. Each month had its own silly theme based on a season or holiday, with the players and dogs dressed accordingly.

Here’s a quick preview: Caps roomies Tom Wilson and Michael Latta celebrated Valentine’s Day by putting roses in their mouth for February; Braden Holtby wore a sombrero and poncho for Cinco de Mayo; and Karl Alzner dressed in a skin-tight skeleton costume with his dogs for Halloween in October.

January models Andre Burakovsky and Marcus Johansson had problems. By the time the photographer was ready for them, the puppies they were carrying fell asleep in their arms. Adorable, but improvisation was needed. The New Years theme became “falling asleep before midnight.” After two rounds of throwing balloons, the crew tried popping confetti champagne bottles that startled the two pups awake in the middle of the take. The Swedes handled it well: with many puppy kisses.

After the main sets, the photographer did sessions with the player families that wanted their own set of photos. #SquadGoals.

Prepare yourself for enormous amounts of adorable. We can’t wait to buy this calendar.

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