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Caps All-Stars help lead East to win in Skills Challenge

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Caps All-Stars help lead East to win in Skills Challenge

In a prelude to Sunday's All-Star tournament, the NHL All-Stars took to the ice on Saturday night for the Skills Competition with the Eastern Conference earning the 29-12 win over the West.

Though he often plays like has ice water in his veins, Evgeny Kuznetsov looked like he was dealing with nerves early in the night. On his first attempt in the breakaway challenge, he tried to lift the puck to juggle but could not keep it on his stick and instead improvised with some smooth stick handling before flipping the puck to Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne who made the easy save.

On his second attempt, Kuznetsov paid tribute to Alex Ovechkin's appearance in 2009 as he donned a cowboy hat and glasses. Kuznetsov even ditched his left-handed stick for a righty just to complete the Ovechkin image. Switching hands, however, is harder than it looks and he was not able to shoot it on net against the guitar-wielding Rinne.

Kuznetsov's nerves settled down in the skills relay where he was tasked with passing the puck into four mini-nets. After a few attempts to hit the first net, Kuznetsov proceeded to hit his next three-straight shots.

In typical fashion, Backstrom did his best work on the night with the pass. He served as a passer for the accuracy challenge, helping John Tavares win the competition with a time of 12.294 seconds. Backstrom also was the mini-net passer in the Eastern Conference's first heat. His groups time of 1:38.41 in the relay was the second-best time of the night.

Holtby made quick work of the goalie goals in the skills relay as he scored on each of his first three shots. The Caps netminder was also solid in the shootout as he turned aside eight of nine shots faced. Joe Pavelski of San Jose was the only one to beat him by tucking a shot just underneath Holtby's glove.

RELATED: Trotz supportive of John Scott

Other highlights of the night:

  • Dylan Larkin won the first event of the night as the fastest skater. He then was given a chance to break Mike Gartner's record of 13.386 which he did with a time of 13.172 despite stumbling on the last turn. In doing so, he beat a record Gartner set 20 years ago in 1996...before Larkin was born (he is 19).
  • P.K. Subban stole the show in the the breakaway challenge. After showing off some incredible juggling skills in his first shot, he did his best Jaromir Jagr impressio on his second with a Panther's jersey and mullet. Subban narrowly won the event with 31 percent of the fan vote, edging out San Jose's Brent Burns who had his son score on the first shot and then wore a Chewbacca mask on his second.
  • Shea Weber defended his hardest shot title on his home ice in Nashville. Though he was not able to match last year's 108.5 mph shot, he came close with 108.1. Though only one shot counted, Weber endd up with the three hardest shots on the night. His first attempt went for 105.3 and after some prodding from the crowd for one more shot, he took an extra shot after he had already won and still registered 107.8.
  • John Scott received a standing ovation when he took to the ice for the hardest shot competition. He registered a respectable 95.9 mph. He also attempted a spin move in the shootout that took everyone by surprise. New Jersey goalie Cory Schneider was just able to kick the pad out for the save.
  • After wining the event, the Atlantic and Metropolitan Division captains Jagr and Tavares elected to play their game first on Sunday, meaning the Caps' representatives will play at 5 p.m. The Western Conference will play at 6 p.m. with the winner of both moving on to the finals at 7 p.m.

MORE CAPITALS: Capitals Six-Pack: Will Caps make a trade before the deadline?

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: The Caps add two defensemen, problem solved?

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NBC Sports Washington

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: The Caps add two defensemen, problem solved?

The Capitals got their trade deadline started early by trading for defensemen Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek. Washington has been struggling of late, but do their new acquisitions address the team's weaknesses?

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir evaluate the two trades and talk about where they could fit into the lineup.

You can listen to the latest episode here on the Capitals Faceoff page or with the player below.

Want even more great Capitals coverage? Follow @TarikNBCS and @JJReganNBCS on Twitter!

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Caps make second blue line addition, acquire Jakub Jerabek from Montreal

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USA TODAY Sports

Caps make second blue line addition, acquire Jakub Jerabek from Montreal

The Capitals continued to retool their scuffling blue line on Wednesday, acquiring 26-year-old defenseman Jakub Jerabek from Montreal in exchange for a fifth-round pick in 2019.

The move comes a couple of days after GM Brian MacLellan dealt a conditional third-round selection to Chicago for swift skating Michal Kempny.

Both Jerabek and Kempny are left shot, puck-moving defensemen who move well and make crisp outlet passes. Both also hail from the Czech Republic.

RELATED: BRADEN HOLTBY BLAMES HIMSELF FOR TAMPA LOSS

The team sees Jerabek as a No. 5 or 6, I’m told.

On Wednesday, the Caps also officially said goodbye to Taylor Chorney, who was claimed off waivers by Columbus. Chorney will report to the Blue Jackets.

The Caps were off on Wednesday as they made their way Florida for Thursday night’s meeting with the Panthers, so it’s unclear how Coach Barry Trotz intends to deploy his new defensemen.

But it’s probably safe to assume that Kempny will move into a spot within the top four with John Carlson, Dmitry Orlov and Matt Niskanen.

MORE CAPITALS: GET TO KNOW MICHAL KEMPNY

That figures to leave Brooks Orpik and Jerabek on the third pair, while rookies Christian Djoos and Madison Bowey jockey for position as the next man up.

Kempny is expected to make his Caps’ debut on Thursday night.

Is the Caps’ D corps better? Well, that remains to be seen. But it had become clear to MacLellan and Co. in recent weeks that the status quo was not going to cut it. This month, in fact, the team has allowed 39 goals in 10 games. Only the Rangers (40) have allowed more in the same span.

With the trade deadline looming next Monday, the Caps now have roughly $617,000 in cap space, according to www.capfriendly.com, and are at the roster maximum of 23 players. So they would need to make a move in order to add another body.