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Caps lose third straight in regulation for first time since 2015

Caps lose third straight in regulation for first time since 2015

Final score: Washington Capitals 2, Los Angeles Kings 3

How it happened: The Caps took a 1-0 and 2-1 lead, but saw the Kings come back each time to tie the game at two after the first two periods. Kings rookie Adrian Kempe, however, scored his first career goal midway through the third period to hand the Caps their third straight regulation loss.

What it means: The Caps have lost three straight games in regulation for the first time since February…of 2015. They now sit just one point ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins for first place in the Metropolitan Division and in the NHL.

Goals

Caps goal: Jakub Vrana (power play) from Kevin Shattenkirk and Justin Williams at 4:35 in the first period. Shattenkirk found Vrana on the long-range slap pass and Vrana redirected it into the net for the early power play tally. Caps 1, Kings 0

Kings goal: Marian Gaborik from Alex Martinez and Anze Kopitar at 15:30 in the first period. Brooks Orpik tried to start the breakout, but turned the puck over on the wall. Kopitar gave Matt Niskanen the curl and drag, and Gaborik buried the rebound. Caps 1, Kings 1

Caps goal: T.J. Oshie from Marcus Johansson at 0:47 in the second period. Johansson skated the puck almost the entire length of the ice through the Kings’ defense and chipped a puck into Quick. A trailing Oshie knocked the puck into the net. Caps 2, Kings 1

Kings goal: Anze Kopitar (power play) from Jeff Carter and Jake Muzzin at 7:20 in the second period. After a debated delay of game penalty to the Caps, Carter fired a wrister right from Alex Ovechkin’s favorite office that was deflected by Kopitar to beat Grubauer. Caps 2, Kings 2

Kings goal: Adrian Kempe from Alec Martinez and Kevin Gravel at 8:46 in the third period. Kempe made his first career NHL goal a memorable one. With the puck along the boards, Martinez spun around to separate himself from Johansson, skated to the circle, then beat a screened Grubauer short-side. Caps 2, Kings 3

Kings goal: Jeff Carter (empty netter), unassisted at 19:58 in the third period. Caps 2, Kings 4

3 stars

1. Anze Kopitar: Kopitar did all the leg work on the Kings' first goal, pulling of the nice move to deke Niskanen. He then got his stick on a shot from Carter to earn the Kings' second goal.

2. Adrian Kempe: Not only did he get his first career NHL goal, it was a beautiful pla and it ended up being the game-winner.

3. Alex Ovechkin: The Caps' captain has come under scrutiny of late for his sudden lack of production, but he looked dangerous in this game. He registered a game-high five shots on goal with an additional six shots missed and three more blocked. It was his best game in awhile, but it did not translate into a goal.

Look ahead: Hopefully the Caps have already turned their clocks back since they are back in action Sunday night. They wrap up the California trip against the Anaheim Ducks then return home just in time for snow and a Tuesday game against Bruce Boudreau and the Minnesota Wild.

Tell us what you think: With three straightr regulation losses and the playoffs just a month away, where is your panic meter? Are you still confident in the Caps or are you getting worried?

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: And so we meet again

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: And so we meet again

We all knew this was coming, right?

The Capitals will face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the playoffs for the third consecutive season and for the 11th time in franchise history. Washington has only beaten Pittsburgh once in their previous 10 series. This season gives them the opportunity to get over the second round and Pittsburgh hump once and for all.

Will this year be different? Will the Caps finally take down their arch nemesis? Will they finally advance to the conference final?

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir break down the Caps-Penguins matchup in the Capitals Faceoff Podcast.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page

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Penguins will be without Evgeni Malkin and Carl Hagelin for Game 1

Penguins will be without Evgeni Malkin and Carl Hagelin for Game 1

As the Capitals and Penguins prepare to open their second-round series, significant injury news came out of Pittsburgh on Wednesday. Head coach Mike Sullivan informed the media that both Evgeni Malkin and Carl Hagelin would not play in Game 1 due to injuries.

The fact that Hagelin would not be traveling with the team suggests that he will miss Game 2 as well, but that has not been confirmed. That also means that Malkin is at least a possibility for Game 2.

Malkin did not play in Game 6 against the Philadelphia Flyers after getting injured in a collision with Jakub Voracek in Game 5. Hagelin was injured in Game 6 on a big hit from Claude Giroux.

So when the series against Washington begins, Pittsburgh will be playing without two-thirds of its second line.

Malkin made a real push for the Hart Trophy this season with 42 goals and 98 points. He was a major factor in last season's Cup run with 28 points in 26 games and was gearing up for another big postseason with five points in his first five games.

But don't celebrate too much, Caps fans. It is not as if either loss will be crippling to Pittsburgh's offense.

Despite not having Malkin for the entire Game 6 and losing Hagelin midway through the second period, the Penguins still managed to put up eight goals on the Flyers in the series-clinching win.

Still, with scoring depth being such a strength for Pittsburgh, the Capitals need to take advantage. The Penguins will be without one of the best players in the NHL and that makes Game 1 crucial. Washington has gone down 0-2 in each of their past two playoff series including last year against Pittsburgh. They lost that series in seven games. They need to have a better start this year and with no Malkin or Hagelin for Game 1, this may be a must-win for the Caps.

Riley Sheahan and Dominik Simon skated with Phil Kessel on the second line at practice on Wednesday and it is a good bet that is how the second line will remain for Game 1. That way, Pittsburgh can keep its third line of Conor Sheary, Derick Brassard and Bryan Rust line together which has been very effective.

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