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Capitals win the game, but lose Oshie

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Capitals win the game, but lose Oshie

The Caps finally beat the Sharks, but they suffered a loss on Monday night, too.

T.J. Oshie left the 4-1 victory late in the second period after Joe Thornton smashed the star winger’s head into the corner boards. Oshie did not return to the game and will be reevaluated on Tuesday, according to the team.

The injury spoiled an otherwise stellar night for the Caps, who ended a four-game losing streak against the Sharks. Overall, Washington has now won two games in a row and five of their last six.

Tarik’s three stars of the game:

1- Alex Ovechkin, Capitals

There are nights when you can tell early on that No. 8 is going to be special. This was one of those nights. Ovi was flying (and breaking ankles) in the opening minutes, then the Caps’ captain got on the board early in the second period by stealing the puck in the D-zone and finishing an unassisted breakaway that put the home team ahead 2-0.

The goal moved Ovechkin past Mark Recchi into 20th place on the all-time goals list (578). Later in that frame, Ovi made a sublime pass to Brett Connolly, who scored on the power play to put Washington ahead 3-1. Connolly was on the first unit power play in place of Oshie.

2- Brett Connolly, Capitals

After getting scratched for ineffectiveness late last month, Connolly has returned with a vengeance. No. 10, skating on the first unit power play in place of the injured Oshie, scored his second goal in two games with 52 seconds remaining in the second period to stake Washington to a 3-1 advantage.

He was also the reason Evgeny Kuznetsov had to fist-bump himself on the bench.

3-Philipp Grubauer, Capitals

It wasn’t the most challenging night for the Caps’ backup. But when his number was called, he was ready. Grubi’s best saves came early in the third period on a sequence that saw him turn away Marcus Sorensen with a pad save, then scurry across the crease to thwart Jannik Hansen with a pair of point-blank stops.

After going winless in his first six starts, Grubauer has now won two in a row. Amazing what a little run support can do for a netminder, huh?

Agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think in the comments.

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Michal Kempny already promoted to top-four at Sunday's practice

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USA TODAY Sports

Michal Kempny already promoted to top-four at Sunday's practice

After two games, it looks like Michal Kempny is already moving up in the lineup.

At Sunday’s practice, Kempny played on the team's second defensive pairing, lining up on the left of John Carlson. Previously, the Czech defenseman had been playing on the right of Brooks Orpik. The move to the left allows him to play on his natural side as he is a left-handed shot.

Here are the pairs from Sunday’s practice:

Dmitry Orlov – Matt Niskanen
Michal Kempny – John Carlson
Brooks Orpik – Christian Djoos
Jakub Jerabek – Madison Bowey

Acquired on Monday from the Chicago Blackhawks, Kempny has played in two games for the Capitals and has received glowing reviews thus far.

“He's a really good pro, that's what sticks out,” head coach Barry Trotz said. “He takes care of himself, he works at his game off the ice and with the guys, he has fit in very well.”

RELATED: THE TRADE TO WASHINGTON OFFERS JERABEK THE CHANCE HE NEVER SEEMED TO GET IN MONTREAL

“I've gotten to play a little bit with [Kempny] the last couple games,” Brooks Orpik said. “I think he's a guy that, he moves pretty well and he moves the puck pretty well and likes to keep things pretty simple. He's very consistent and predictable so he's very easy to play with.”

When the Capitals first acquired Kempny, it seemed like the best fit for him would be alongside Carlson. It’s a natural fit with Kempny being a left-shot and Carlson a righty. It also bumps down Christian Djoos to a third-pair role which is preferable to having a rookie in the top-four come the playoffs.

Should Kempny play well with Carlson, that would likely solidify Washington’s top two pairs. The Orlov-Niskanen pair was not going to be changed and Carlson was going to be on the second pair. The only question was who would ultimately play with him in the postseason?

The third pair, however, remains a work in progress.

The Caps will have to wait at least another day for the debut of their second recent acquisition as Jakub Jerabek cannot yet play due to visa issues and will miss Monday's game, reports Isabelle Khurshudyan.

Considering the issues Washington has had on defense, they would not have brought in another defenseman just to be a healthy scratch. He will get his shot to earn a spot in the lineup.

With two new defensemen in tow, obviously the team will need to experiment over the next few days and weeks to find the right combinations.

“We're going to have to probably spend at least the next 10 to 12 games doing that and then we'll have to sort of settle in,” Trotz said. “With eight defenseman, you sort of want to see which guys you’re going to play and who to play as partners and sort of a little bit of ranking. If someone goes down, who's filling that extra role?”

MORE CAPITALS: WHY THERE'S NO REASON FOR CAPS FANS TO WORRY

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3 reasons the Caps beat the Sabres

3 reasons the Caps beat the Sabres

The Caps could not shake Buffalo for two periods, but a dominant finish on Saturday helped them pull away for a 5-1 win. Here's how they finally put away the Sabres.

A quick start

Strong starts go a long way towards helping a team in the middle of a slump. It's a confidence boost for a group in desperate need of one and the Caps got that boost on Saturday from Evgeny Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov used his wheels to zip in behind the defense and score just 50 seconds into the game. Washington led 1-0 at the end of the first, just the second time in 19 games they have held a lead after the opening 20 minutes.

RELATED: SEE THE 3 STARS FROM CAPS-SABRES HERE

Andre Burakovsky snapping a second period slump

It looked in the second period like the Caps were caught trying to protect the lead again, but Andre Burakovsky woke the team back up with his incredible highlight end-to-end goal. It really looked like Buffalo was going to tie the game at one, but instead, Burakovsky extended the lead to two. Going end to end the way he did shows a player who is starting to play with some confidence, something Burakovsky has lacked for much of the season.

Ovechkin's two-goal third period

Buffalo would not go away. Sam Reinhart got the Sabres on the board just 14 seconds into the third period and suddenly the Caps found themselves in a one-goal game again. But Ovechkin ended any hopes for the comeback as he struck in the top corner of the net on the power play from the office. He would later add a deflection goal to extend the lead to 5-1, giving a scuffling Washington team the dominant win they so sorely needed.