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Sanford sees opportunity to impress with veterans missing from camp

Sanford sees opportunity to impress with veterans missing from camp

The last few months have been a whirlwind for prospect Zach Sanford. The 21-year-old center went from preparing for another season at Boston College to signing an entry-level deal with the Capitals in July. Now he's taking part in training camp with an eye towards sticking around in D.C.

"It's been kind of crazy," Sanford said. "Getting in here the first two days, it's kind of good to see some familiar faces, but meeting the guys who've been on the team and all the vets and stuff and seeing how they work has been really cool. Seeing the pace of the practices is another level up there."

RELATED: 5 STORYLINES TO MONITOR AS CAMP BEGINS

Every player comes into camp with dreams of making the NHL roster, but this year there is a real opportunity. The Caps have said they hope to keep a young prospect on the roster as the 14th forward in order to gain experience and it's something each young prospect will be gunning for.

"I think it's every young forward's goal here or even D-man to make the team and just got to put in the work and hopefully things will turn out well here," Sanford said.

At 6-foot-4, 191 pounds, Sanford certainly looks the part of an NHL player. Considering how hard the Caps pushed for him to sign this summer rather than wait another year after college, it's clear that he is on the team's radar. Now he has to show the team he is ready for that chance.

With so many players gone for the World Cup of Hockey, Sanford knows he has to make an impression early in camp if he hopes to stick around.

"It's clear that a lot of the younger guys are going to get some more opportunities here in camp and preseason than we would have gotten if everyone was here," Sanford said. "I think it's really important for myself and other young guys to take advantage of those opportunities and kind of show what we've got."

MORE CAPITALS: ORLOV EXCITED TO INK NEW DEAL WITH CAPITALS

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Tarik's 3 stars: Caps come up empty on an emotional night in Florida

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USA TODAY Sports

Tarik's 3 stars: Caps come up empty on an emotional night in Florida

Vincent Trocheck scored on the power play with 18.7 seconds remaining and the Panthers escaped with a 3-2 victory on an emotional night in Sunrise, Fla.

Trocheck’s goal was Florida’s second in the final four minutes…and the Caps were left to lament yet another incomplete performance. Washington has now lost three of its last four games and fell to 4-5-2 in February.

Tarik’s three stars of the game:

1-Vincent Trocheck, Panthers

Trocheck did what Trocheck does in the third period: The Florida forward scored a clutch goal in the final seconds, redirecting a Jonathan Huberdeau shot through Brooks Orpik’s legs and past Braden Holtby. Eller was in the penalty box when Trocheck scored his 13th third period goal of the season.

2-Andre Burakovsky, Capitals

After losing a goal to Eller in the first period, Burakovsky made sure he didn’t go home empty handed. No. 65 scored on the power play in the second period to put the Caps ahead 2-1. It was Burakovsky’s third goal in six games. He also earned a secondary assist on Eller’s redirection score.   

3-Braden Holtby, Capitals

Following a handful of un-Holtby-like performances lately, Holtbeast roared Thursday night at BB&T Center. He made at least one game-saving stop in each period: an arm save on Trocheck in the first period; a pad stop on Denis Malgin in the second and another extended pad stop on Evgenii Dadonov in the third. Holtby finished with 30 stops.

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

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4 reasons why the Panthers beat the Caps

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USA TODAY Sports

4 reasons why the Panthers beat the Caps

The Caps looked like they had the win as they led 2-1 late in the third period, but things went off the rails in the final four minutes of the game in a 3-2 loss for Washington.

Here's how the Caps lost.

An emotional start for Robert Luongo

Before the game, Roberto Luongo took the mic during an emotional tribute to the victims of the tragic Stoneman Douglas school shooting. As a writer, it was hard to get into the game after that. I cannot imagine how hard it must have been for Luongo to focus after that. But he did. He started off the game very well, making several strong saves. Washington scored late in the first period after an offensive cycle of over a minute that completely wore out the Panthers' skaters. Otherwise, Luongo was brilliant turning aside 13 of the 14 shots he faced in the opening 20 minutes.

Another shaky start for Braden Holtby

This was the best game we have seen from Braden Holtby in a while as he made a number of phenomenal saves in the second and third period. In the first, however, he continued to struggle. Maxim Mamin scored his first career NHL goal and point as a puck trickled through Holtby and Mamin was able to slam it home. Holtby was dealing with a screen, but reacted late to the initial shot and late to Mamin.

Aleksander Barkov splitting Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson

With a 2-1 lead, the Caps looked like they had control. But with less than four minutes remaining, Aleksander Barkov was able to split Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson to set up Nick Bjugstad for the game-tying goal. Ovechkin was backchecking and Carlson stepped up on him and then...nothing. It looked as if both players thought the other would take Barkov and Ovechkin let up at the same time Carlson skated past giving Barkov a lane to the net.

A late penalty to Lars Eller

With the game tied late, the Caps were exerting their will in the offensive zone with the cycle that had been dominant all game long...and then Lars Eller tried to set a pick on Bjugstad, knocking him to the ice. It was an obvious interference call with just 42 seconds remaining in the game. Florida would score 22 seconds later to deny Washington not only the win, but even a point.