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Tarik's 3 Stars: Kings, Quick crown Caps

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Tarik's 3 Stars: Kings, Quick crown Caps

The Caps, fresh after four days off, got the strong start they were seeking thanks to a goal from Evgeny Kuznetsov just 4:04 into Thursday’s game. But Kuzy and Co. failed to close the deal. The Kings’ fourth line struck twice in the span of nine seconds midway through the second period, and Jonathan Quick took it from there, locking down a 5-2 victory for the visitors.

The defeat halted the Caps’ winning streak at three games and spoiled the start of a season-long five game homestand for Washington.  

Tarik’s three stars of the night:

1-Jonathan Quick, Kings

The veteran Los Angeles netminder was the difference in this game, outdueling Braden Holtby, whose giveaway led to the Kings’ second goal. Quick made a highlight reel pad stop on Jakub Vrana in the first period, but he saved his best for the final frame. With about eight minutes remaining and the Kings clinging to a 3-2 lead, Quick, already down in the splits, dived back to thwart Christian Djoos with his arm.

2-Evgeny Kuznetsov, Capitals

Kuzy registered his second two-goal game of the season, tallying in the first and second periods. On his first goal, he controlled a pass from Dmitry Orlov and put a nice move on Quick. On the second, No. 92 made a crafty play. He raced into the zone with speed, slammed on the brakes at the top of the circle, waited for traffic to develop in front of Quick and sniped the puck past the netminder’s blocker.

Kuznetsov now has eight goals in 26 games. He didn’t get his eighth goal until Jan. 26th last season.

3-Dmitry Orlov, Capitals

Orlov set up Kuznetsov’s first goal by picking off an errant pass in the neutral zone and then making a decisive, accurate pass to Kuzy on the fly.

The assist was Orlov’s 100th of his career. No. 9 now has helpers in three of the last four games. He also skated 24:21.  

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

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3 reasons the Caps lost to the Canadiens

3 reasons the Caps lost to the Canadiens

The Caps battled through the rust on Thursday to earn a point in New Jersey. On Friday, rust cost them yet again as they fell 3-2 to the Montreal Canadiens.

Here's why they lost.

4 shots on goal in the first period

Canadiens goalie Antti Niemi has had his struggles this season. Yes, he has played better since getting claimed off waivers by Montreal, but getting to play against Niemi instead of Carey Price wass a golden opportunity for the Caps to generate some offense. Washington, however, had very little offense to speak at the end of the night. How did they respond with Niemi in net? By getting only four shots in the first period. Four. They finished with 26 shots on goal for the game, but had they come out swinging in the first and put pressure up early on Niemi, they could have gotten a much different result.

RELATED: CHECK OUT THE 3 STARS OF THE GAME FOR CAPS-HABS

Bad passing

After the game, Lars Eller said "It was one of the sloppiest games we've played if not the sloppiest. I don't think we've given up so any odd-man rushes or chances in one game." In no aspect were the Caps more sloppy than with their passing. Here are just a few examples.

A cross-ice backhand pass in the defensive zone? Really? You are not going to be successful trying to make those type of plays and it cost the Caps. They could not maintain possession of the puck or breakout of their zone and it led to several odd-man rushes for Montreal.

Rust

It's not an excuse. The Caps should have played better on Friday regardless, but there's no arguing the fact that rust was a factor. It was abundantly clear that the Caps were out of sync. That will happen when you are playing on the second leg of a back-to-back with no practice time.

Saturday's practice will be absolutely critical since Washington faces a matinee game on Sunday, their third contest in four days.

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3 stars of the game: Grubauer's heroics not enough against the Habs

3 stars of the game: Grubauer's heroics not enough against the Habs

The first time the Caps hosted the Montreal Canadiens this season, Alex Ovechkin tallied four goals as the Caps dominated in a 6-1 thrashing.

Friday's game featured considerably less offense as Montreal just managed to squeak by Washington 3-2.

Philipp Grubuaer got the start and did everything he could to keep Washington in it, but the Caps struggled to find much offense.

Alex Ovechkin did manage to register assist No. 499 as he set up John Carlson on the power play and Lars Eller scored late, but it would not be enough for the Caps to come back.

Here are the three stars of the game.

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1. Max Pacioretty: The Canadiens struggled to get anything past Grubauer in this one, but Pacioretty finally did in the second period on the power play. It was simple enough, he found the puck at his feet, turned and shot.

When goalies start to frustrate teams, we see a lot of players respond by looking for the perfect play and give up good opportunities for more difficult passes. Pacioretty was smart, he just shot. He also added an assist on Paul Byron's goal as the puck bounced off the board and off Pacioretty's skate right to Byron.

He ultimately put the exclamation point on the win with an empty-net goal as well to complete a three-point night.

2. Philipp Grubauer: Grubauer certainly didn't look like a backup goalie in this one. He was strong in net all night long, but his best save came in the first period. Pacioretty hit the side of the net to Grubauer's left on a pretty passing play, but the puck bounced out to the slot and Charles Hudon passed it over to Paul Byron on Grubauer's right. Grubauer dove with his arm outstretched and managed to corral the puck into his body to keep it out of the net.

He would finish the game with several more fantastic saves, 23 in all despite the loss.

3. Andre Burakovsky: It would be hard to draw up a better return to the lineup for Burakovsky.

He started on the fourth line, but he wasn't there for long. He had four shot attempts in a first period in which the Caps struggled to get anything going offensively at all. He also had a breakaway opportunity in the third period as he came out of the penalty box. He had Antti Niemi beat, but hit the post.

It was the second time Burakovsky struck iron in the game. Hedid just about everything right, but just couldn't light the lamp.