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Coffee Is For Closers

by Mike Vogel / Washington Capitals
Washington’s current three-game winning streak is impressive in that it was accomplished in just four nights. The Caps had a busy post-holiday week, playing four times in six nights. With wins in back-to-back games on Friday (vs. Buffalo) and Saturday (at Columbus), the Capitals authored their first sweep of back-to-backs since March 6-7.

That stretch of four games in six nights didn’t get off to the best of starts when the Capitals surrendered four goals in the first period of the first of those games, a visit to Buffalo last Monday night.

In 11 periods of hockey since, the Caps have outscored their foes by a combined 13-4. Their modest three-game winning streak is their longest since they opened the season with seven successive wins, and it ended the team’s drought between three-game winning streaks at 27 games, its longest since the end of the 2006-07 campaign.

The Capitals are now 4-1-1 in their last six, and they are 7-3-1 in their last 11 games. Since Dale Hunter took over the team’s coaching reins on Nov. 28, the Capitals are 8-6-1.

In those 15 games under Hunter, the team that scored the contest’s first goal ended up winning 13 times. The lone exceptions are the first (Nov. 29 loss to St. Louis) and last (Dec. 31 win at Columbus) of those 15 games.

One of the most notable improvements the Caps have displayed under Hunter is in their third period play. Before Hunter’s arrival, the Capitals had been outscored 25-26 in the third period of their 22 games to that point of the season. In Hunter’s 15 games behind the bench, the Caps have outscored the opposition 21-6 in the game’s final frame.

In going 4-1-1 in their last six games, the Capitals have outscored foes by a combined 11-1 in the third period. In going 3-1-1 in their last five, the Caps have scored at least once in the third period of each game and have not allowed a single third-period strike.

For the season, the Caps have outscored foes 46-32 in the third period. Washington’s 46 third-period goals are the fourth most in the NHL.

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