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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Tom Wilson scored twice, Nicklas Backstrom recorded four helpers and the assistant coaches chipped in with a big assist in Montreal, where the Caps earned a 6-4 victory over the Canadiens on Saturday night.
The win was Washington’s third in a row and seventh in eight games as they close in on another Metro Division title. Caps Coach Barry Trotz, meantime, claimed victory No. 200 in Washington; his next win will equal Bruce Boudreau for second all-time in franchise history.
Tarik’s three stars of the game:
1-Tom Wilson, Capitals
Wilson’s all-around game continues to blossom…and the Caps’ big winger continues to fill up the scoresheet. At Bell Centre, he scored back-to-back goals less than four minutes apart in the first period to put the Caps in command. Wilson also missed an empty net in the closing seconds by just a few inches. The soon-to-be 24-year-old now has 13 goals—six more than his previous career high.
2-Nicklas Backstrom, Capitals
Backstrom notched four assists and, as usual, he did it quietly. And they weren’t cheapies—three of the four helpers were of the primary variety. Backstrom, who has four goals and 12 assists in his last 12 games, has now notched four or more points 20 times in his career. It was also his 11th-career four assist game.
3-Leonhardt and Ohashi, Capitals
That’s right, I’m giving the third star to assistant coaches Brett ‘Stretch’ Leonhardt and Tim Ohashi. They quickly spotted that the Habs were offside on their second goal. And, after a coach’s challenge, the refs agreed. Instead of 2-0, it remained 1-0 and the Caps took full advantage of their second chance, scoring the game’s next four goals.
Agree? Disagree? Tell us what you think in the comments.
What: Washington Capitals vs. Montreal Canadiens
Where: Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
When: 7:00 p.m. ET
How to Watch: Capitals-Canadiens will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington.
Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Canadiens game on NBC Sports' live stream page.
WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-CANADIENS GAME?
The Capitals (43-24-7) take on the Canadiens (27-36-12) Saturday, March 24 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Montreal.
WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-CANADIENS GAME ON?
The Capitals-Canadiens game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off on NBC Sports Washington with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington after the game for Caps Extra and Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. for postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)
6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals at Canadiens
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-CANADIENS GAME?
You can watch the Capitals-Canadiens game on NBC Sports' live stream page.
CAPITALS-CANADIENS OPEN THREAD
Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans.
For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.