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3 stars of the game: 4-goal period lifts Penguins past Caps

3 stars of the game: 4-goal period lifts Penguins past Caps

At first, Friday's game against the Pittsburgh Penguins felt an awful lot like Wednesday's contest against the Philadelphia Flyers. Washington gave the first two goals of the game, but was able to battle back to tie it heading into the third. This time, however, Washington was not able to finish off their opponent. Pittsburgh took control with four goals in the third period to chase Braden Holtby and chase the Caps 7-4.

The Caps overcame a 2-0 and 3-1 deficit to tie the game at 3 in the second period. Evgeni Malkin and Alex Ovechkin traded goals in the first two minutes of the third and then Pittsburgh took over with three straight goals to finish off Washington.

Here are the three stars of the game.

1. Evgeni Malkin: Malkin took this game over in the third period. With the score tied at 3, Malkin scored just 61 seconds into the period.

He later assisted on Phil Kessel's goal as Pittsburgh took a 6-4 lead and scored his second of the period on the power play about two minutes later. It was a four-point night for a player already named the NHL's First Star of the month for January.

2. Alex Ovechkin: Late in the first period with the Caps down 2-0, Ovechkin scored a critical goal to get the Caps on the board and it was a pretty one. Ovechkin sped his way into the offensive zone, gained the corner on Kris Letang and powered his way to the net. His hard work was rewarded as his initial shot was blocked, but the rebound hit off Brian Dumoulin and in.

Ovechkin also scored in the third period just 49 seconds after Evgeni Malkin to tie the game at 4 and he also assisted on Evgeny Kuznetsov's goal for a three-point night.

3. Phil Kessel: Kessel gave the Pittsburgh crowd something to cheer early in the game as he put the Penguins up 1-0 just over two minutes in.

His second goal may well have been the decisive marker. Bryan Rust put Pittsburgh up 5-4 in the third period, but Kessel's goal less than two minutes later solidified that this game was getting away from Washington. Kessel finished with three points.

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Capitals place Taylor Chorney on waivers, which could signal something, or nothing

Capitals place Taylor Chorney on waivers, which could signal something, or nothing

When the Capitals acquired defenseman Michal Kempny on Monday, that put the team at the maximum of 23 players on the roster including eight defenseman.

Another move seemed likely and the Caps made it on Tuesday by placing veteran blueliner Taylor Chorney on waivers.

Teams now will have 24 hours to potentially claim Chorney. Should he clear at 12 p.m. on Wednesday, it is expected that he will be sent to the Hershey Bears of the AHL. Whether he is claimed or sent to Hershey, his entire $800,000 cap hit will no longer count against the Capitals' salary.

One important thing to note, however, is that placing Chorney on waivers was not required in order for Washington to remain under the salary cap.

Having eight defensemen would mean scratching two every game — assuming the team does not dress seven and after that failed experiment in last year's playoffs, why would they — which means it would be a struggle to make sure everyone gets consistent playing time in the final weeks of the season.

Perhaps placing Chorney on waivers is the team trying to get him more playing time to keep him sharp in case the team suffers injuries on the blue line and he is called upon in the playoffs.

Or perhaps it could mean something else.

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Chorney played on Feb. 15, but that was during the mentor's trip. Barry Trotz's policy for those trips is to get everyone in at least one of those two games. Before that, Chorney had not played since Jan. 2. It certainly seems like the team was comfortable with him being the designated No. 7 and was not all that concerned about getting him regular playing time before now.

When asked if the Kempny trade would mean any roster moves, Trotz said Monday that he was not sure and hinted that perhaps more moves could be coming from general manager Brian MacLellan. Moving Chorney's salary off the books does not clear much cap room, but it does clear some.

Perhaps MacLellan has another move up his sleeve before Monday's trade deadline.

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Michal Kempny excited to move from last place Chicago to first place Caps

Michal Kempny excited to move from last place Chicago to first place Caps

On Sunday, Michal Kempny was a defenseman struggling for a spot in the lineup for a team poised to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008. On Monday, he became potentially an important piece on the roster of the first place Capitals.

The last few days have been quite the whirlwind for Kempny who tallied an assist for Chicago on Saturday in a 7-1 blowout against what is now his current team. While the Blackhawks may have gotten the better of Washington that night, Kempny is excited about the postseason opportunity that now lies in front of him.

"Nobody knows what's happening in Chicago, but I'm really happy and I'm really glad that I can be here," Kempny told reporters on Tuesday after his first skate with the team. "There is option of play a playoff and I'm very happy for it."

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The 27-year-old Czech defenseman played only 31 games for the Blackhawks this season, but considering Washington's need to shore up its defense before the trade deadline and the team's willingness to give up a third-round pick to acquire him, it is likely he will have a much more significant role with the Caps.

"I thought that I [was] going to get more space on the ice and more ice time, but I didn't play more than half games," Kempny said of his decision to originally sign with Chicago. "But now I'm here and I'm really glad that I'm here. Washington is amazing city and great organization and I hope I will get a chance to access myself on the ice more than in Chicago."

Kempny will not play in Tuesday's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but did say he expects to play Thursday when the team visits the Florida Panthers.

When he does get into the lineup, it is unclear just how big a role he will play initially or how the team foresees utilizing him going forward. He is a left-shot defenseman and did tell reporters he prefers to play on that side. It seems unlikely the team would acquire him just to put him on his offside.

As of now, however, everything regarding his role in Washington is up in the air.

"I need everything settle down a little bit," he said. "New teammates, new people around here."

MORE CAPITALS: MEET MICHAL KEMPNY