The New Jersey Devils scored all four of their goals in the first period to bury the Caps early. Washington was not able to recover and fell in their home preseason finale 4-1 on Wednesday. Here is who stood out for Washington:
Tyler Graovac: On a night that featured a lineup as close to the team’s regular lineup as we have seen this preseason, Graovac was still the Caps’ best player on the ice. He played with a lot of energy even when the score was 4-0 for the Devils and managed to get the Caps on the board in the second period with his first goal of the preseason. Graovac is in the thick of the roster competition and added another solid performance to his resume. It will be hard to keep him off the roster at this point.
The fourth line: Propelled by Graovac's performance, the fourth line was easily the Caps' best on the night. Jay Beagle and Anthony Peluso played well with Graovac and brought some much-needed energy to a game that looked like it was quickly getting out of hand.
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The first period: We have seen sloppy play throughout the course of the preseason and that's to be expected. The players are shaking the rust off and the lineup is full of prospects and players who ultimately will not make the roster. Wednesday's game featured an NHL roster and the Caps had their worst start of the preseason. New Jersey took a 4-0 lead in the opening frame drawing the ire of the Capitals faithful.
The defense: How did the Devils score four goals in the first period? Because the Caps defense looked completely out of sync, specifically on the penalty kill. Washington took three penalties in the first and the Devils scored on all three opportunities. Even in five on five play, Washington spent far too much time in its own zone as the Caps just could not clear the puck and break out. Considering the team has been working on the penalty kill in practice and that the defensive pairs have remained consistent since Monday, you would expect some level of chemistry. There was none to start and it was blatantly evident.
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