The streak goes on: Capitals win ninth in a row and are crushing everybody

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This one was impressive.

For 40 minutes on Sunday the Washington Capitals looked to be sleepwalking through their game against the Philadelphia Flyers and might even need their backup goalie, Philipp Grubauer, to steal one for them.

Then they woke up just in time for the third period.

Thanks in part to a four-goal outburst in the first seven minutes of the third period, the Capitals were able to extend their current winning streak to nine games with a dominating 5-0 win over the Flyers.

That stretch of play perfectly demonstrated the firepower this Capitals team has and the ridiculous level it is currently playing at. It also showed what can happen when you don’t capitalize on the chances they give you, and how quickly they can capitalize on the chances you give them.

The Flyers had several opportunities to turn this game in their favor, and for most of the game were carrying the play. But an 0-for-4 performance from the Flyers’ power play through the first two periods kept the door open for the Capitals. All they needed was a couple of Flyers turnovers to kick the door open.

This goal from Matt Niskanen to make it 3-0 was probably the best of the game. Just look at the puck movement and the way Alex Ovechkin just completely freezes Flyers goalie Steve Mason.

The numbers during this streak are simply staggering for the Capitals. A few of them that stand out after Sunday’s game.

  • They are outscoring teams 40-11 during the streak
  • They have not allowed an even-strength goal in six straight games
  • During those six games, a stretch that has included games against Columbus, Ottawa, Montreal, Pittsburgh, Chicago and Philadelphia, they are outscoring teams 26-3.
  • They are controlling more than 54 percent of the even-strength shot attempts in those games, which means they are not only dominating on the scoreboard but also outplaying some of the best teams in the league (specifically referring to Columbus, Montreal, Pittsburgh and Chicago) by a significant margin.
  • They have won three games by at least five goals, while six of them have been won by a multiple goal margin.

The other thing Sunday’s win did? It moved the Capitals back into the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

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They are in Pittsburgh on Monday for another game with the Penguins after beating them 5-2 on Monday.

As for the Flyers? Well … this game simply capped off a terrible weekend that saw them lose two games by a combined score of 11-3 and bring their current slump to 11 losses in their past 14 games.

They remain just a single point ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes for the second Wild Card spot and only two points ahead of the Ottawa Senators. The Hurricanes now have three games in hand on them. The Senators have five. That could be a problem.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports
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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.