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Trotz addresses Orpik's upper body injury


Trotz addresses Orpik's upper body injury

Sidelined since taking a big hit along the boards from Ryan White in the second period of Game 3 on Monday night, Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik was not on the ice on Friday, but he was in the workout room.

Asked if Orpik has a concussion, Capitals coach Barry Trotz responded, “I’m not going to answer that.”

Asked if he is concerned about the long-term availability of Orpik for the playoffs, Trotz sounded optimistic.

“Not really, no,” he said. “I don’t have too much concern on that. He actually exercised today, so that was good.”

Orpik appeared to hit his head on the glass on the hard check by White and looked wobbly as he was helped off the ice buy defense partner John Carlson and Caps athletic trainer Greg Smith.

The Caps went 30-6-4 in their 40 games without Orpik in the lineup due to injury during the regular season and 26-11-4 in their 41 games with him. (He sat out the final game of the season as a healthy scratch).

The Caps’ penalty kill was 86.8 percent with Orpik in the lineup and 83.3 percent without him.

Defenseman Taylor Chorney replaced Orpik in the lineup and logged 12:10 in his first playoff game for the Capitals.

“It’s nice to get back in there,” said Chorney, who only other Stanley Cup playoff experience came last year for the Penguins. “Getting a chance to play last year probably helped a little bit, just having felt that intensity before. It would have been nice to have a better result.”

While Chorney played on a third defense pairing with Dmitry Orlov, Nate Schmidt jumped into Orpik’s spot on the left side of John Carlson. Schmidt logged 18:23 of ice time, including a 20-second stint on the penalty kill. His previous high in the series was 13:31 in Game 2.

“If you ask any player the more you play the more in the game you get,” Schmidt said. “It’s easier to get your legs going. When you’re playing against top guys you’ve got to do the job.”

Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby said that while the Caps will miss Orpik’s physical play and leadership, they have played well without him this season.

“We’re confident with any of the eight guys we put in the lineup,” he said.

MORE CAPITALS: Capitals vow to pressure Neuvirth early in Game 5

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

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

4 reasons why the Panthers beat the Caps

The Caps looked like they had the win in hand as they led 2-1 late in the third period, but things went off the rails in the final four minutes in a 3-2 loss to the Florida Panthers

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 to actually play in the game. But he did. He started off very well, making several strong saves in the first period. Washington scored late in the opening 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 late in the third, 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, 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 a point as well.