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Caps recall prospects Jakub Vrana and Paul Carey, send down struggling rookie Zach Sanford

Caps recall prospects Jakub Vrana and Paul Carey, send down struggling rookie Zach Sanford

The Capitals recalled forwards Jakub Vrana and Paul Carey from Hershey and reassigned struggling rookie Zach Sanford to the Bears, Washington announced Wednesday evening.

The Caps are eager to find more offense and to get a look at Vrana, the 13th overall pick in 2014. The 20-year-old is tied for third in the AHL with nine goals in 18 games. The Czech winger also has seven assists.

Because of the Caps’ proximity to the salary cap ceiling, they had to send down Sanford ($875,000 salary) in order to recall Vrana ($863,333).

Sanford practiced with the Caps on Wednesday morning, but afterward Coach Barry Trotz acknowledged that there had been internal discussions about sending him down. Sanford returned to the facility a few hours later to grab his gear and head to Hershey.


In 18 games with the Caps this season, Sanford had no goals and one assist. He had played only 6:37 and 8:23 in the last two games, respectively.

Trotz said he was concerned that Sanford wasn’t getting enough ice time in Washington. He also noted that Sanford could benefit from the confidence boost he'd get in the minors.

“He’s played very, very well in a lot of areas," Trotz said prior to the move. "He’s still making plays. He just hasn’t got a reward for that. We’re always juggling development and long term for Zach. We think he’s going to be a really good player for us. But we got to make sure that we’re doing the right things and he’s getting enough minutes.”

Trotz added: “He’s played well but he hasn’t got a lot of stats. As a young guy, you want some stats.”

It’s unclear where Vrana, a left wing, will fit in the Capitals’ lineup. But the reason he was called up is easy to figure out: the Capitals have scored 12 goals in five games and they want to see if Vrana, who had four goals and five assists in the Bears' last nine games, can help fix that.


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3 stars of the game: Caps knockout the punchless Sabres


3 stars of the game: Caps knockout the punchless Sabres

Coming off an ugly 7-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, a Buffalo Sabres team missing star Jack Eichel was just what the doctor ordered for the Caps to get back on track. Washington dominated the first two periods and then survived a late surge from Buffalo for the 3-2 win.

After battling to a scoreless first, Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson spotted Washington a 2-0 lead in the second. They then held on in the third period as Buffalo began to tilt the ice in their favor, with Evgeny Kuznetsov scoring the empty-netter to put this game out of reach. Evander Kane would pull Buffalo within one, but with only three seconds left it was too little, too late.

Here are the three stars of the game:

1. Alex Ovechkin: Ovechkin opened up the scoring in the second period as he deflected down an innocent shot from Christian Djoos past Chad Johnson. Ovechkin also set a physical tone as he battled with defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen all game long. After taking a high elbow from Ristolainen early in the game Ovechkin skated up to Ristolainen prior to the faceoff on his next shift and let him know that it was on. 

2. John Carlson: Carlson had a hand in both of Washington's goals on Monday. He recorded a secondary assist on Ovechkin's goal as he made a blue line pass to Djoos which Djoos fired on net and Ovechkin deflected. Carlson then managed to hit the puck past the goal line in a scrum next to Johnson. It looked initially like Kyle Okposo had managed to kick out the puck just before it crossed, but Carlson was awarded the goal as a review showed the puck had completely crossed the line.

3. Philipp Grubauer: A Sabres team that ranks last in the NHL in scoring and that was also without its leading scorer did not test Grubauer much in the first two periods. Facing a 2-0 deficit, however, Buffalo made a third period push to try to tie the game, but Grubauer was up to the task as he turned aside 15 of the 17 shots he faced in the final 20 minutes. He finished with 32 total saves on the night.

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Carlson gets a goal, Kuznetsov simultaneously gets a penalty in bizarre sequence in Buffalo

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Carlson gets a goal, Kuznetsov simultaneously gets a penalty in bizarre sequence in Buffalo

If you take a look at the box score for Monday's game between the Washington Capitals and Buffalo Sabres, you will see a bizarre stat line at 13:33 in the second period.

At that time, John Carlson scored a goal to put Washington up 2-0. At the exact same time, however, Evgeny Kuznetsov was also assessed a penalty for tripping Evan Rodrigues.

A Kuznetsov shot from the blue line hit off the boards and bounced back out to the right of goalie Chad Johnson, sparking a scrum next to the net. Carlson got his stick on the puck for a shot that got past Johnson, but Kyle Okposo kicked the puck off the goal line and out for an incredible save. On the resulting breakout, Kuznetsov was caught tripping Rodrigues and the play was blown dead when the puck was touched up by the Caps.

The Situation Room then initiated a review on Carlson's shot and he was ultimately awarded a goal. Here's a look at the image the NHL sent out after the review:

When a goal is rewarded on review after play is allowed to continue, the clock reverts back to the time the goal was scored, meaning the roughly 14 seconds that happened after Carlson's goal never happened.

Yet, when the goal was assessed, Kuznetsov was still assessed a tripping penalty. Barry Trotz was clearly incredulous with the referee's decision, but ultimately it was the right call.

Rule 78.6 of the NHL rulebook states, "Any penalties signaled during the period of time between the apparent goal and the next stoppage of play shall be assessed in the normal manner."

Had Buffalo scored a goal after Carlson's goal, it would have been called back. Penalties, however, are to be called as normal despite the fact that the extra time after goal technically never happened.

Thus, at 13:33, Carlson was awarded the Caps' second goal while Kuznetsov was given a penalty.