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Trotz wants Capitals to show more resilience

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Trotz wants Capitals to show more resilience

News, notes and second thoughts from the Caps’ 3-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins Wednesday night at Verizon Center:

Quick strike: Evgeny Kuznetsov gave the Caps a 1-0 lead 1:28 into the third period, but the Penguins scored on their next shift just 24 seconds later on a rebound goal by Beau Bennett. The Caps’ checking line of Jay Beagle, Jason Chimera and Tom Wilson and the defense pairing of Brooks Orpik and Taylor Chorney were on the ice for the goal.

“That’s when you’ve got be resilient,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “It’s not a systematic thing. You just have to make sure the next line out there is diligent in terms of detail. Make sure they win their battles, keep interior position and see if we can build some momentum. The next shift is huge.”

What’s a penalty?: The Caps were shorthanded for much of the first period because of penalties to Chandler Stephenson (elbowing), Orpik (boarding) and Karl Alzner (high sticking). The Stephenson and Orpik penalties seemed a little questionable after video replays showed Stephenson led with his shoulder and Phil Kessel turned his back on Orpik just before getting hit.

“The toughest part is we wanted to come out physical and took a couple penalties from us playing physical,” goaltender Braden Holtby said. “It’s tough to find where that boundary is.”

Killers: Despite the early penalty trouble the Caps killed off 1:45 of a two-man disadvantage thanks the the strong play of Matt Niskanen, Alzner and Brooks Laich.

“It’s pretty rare that when you kill those off you don’t win,” Trotz said of the 5-on-3.

The Caps now have killed off 23 of 27 man-advantages.

Ramping it up: Wednesday night’s game was the first of eight straight Eastern Conference game for the Caps.

“That was probably the most physical and most intense game we’ve played so far this year, not a surprise with the two teams involved,” Niskanen said. “Something we talked about before the game was going to the crease and trying to score dirty goals there; we had lots of good scrums, but couldn’t get (more than) one past them.”

Fourth line troubles: The Caps’ allowed the game-winning goal less than 2 minutes after Bennett tied the score when the Penguins’ second/top line over-matched the Caps’ fourth line, with Evgeni Malkin finding Kessel down low for his team-high fourth goal of the season.

Trotz said other than a couple shifts he did not like the play of his fourth line of Stephenson, Laich and Andre Burakovsky. With center Michael Latta and right wing  Stan Galiev itching to get into the lineup it will be interesting to see who skates on that fourth line when the Caps return to the ice on Saturday (Friday’s practice was cancelled).

Faceoff troubles: The Capitals lost 55 percent of their faceoffs Wednesday night, mostly against Sidney Crosby, who won 18 of 26 (69 percent). Beagle won just 6 of 17 draws (35 percent) and Oshie went 0-for-3).Oshie, who rarely took faceoffs before this season, is now 7-for-21 this season. Stephenson won 3 of his 4 faceoffs in just 5:42 of ice time.

Kuzy’s streak: Kuznetsov’s goal extended his point streak to four games (4 goals, 6 assists, which matches his career high.  He has 12 points in his last six games.

Etc.: Karl Alzner’s assist was his first point of the season.  John Carlson led all skaters in ice time (25:16). Alex Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie led all skaters in shots (5). Orpik and Oshie led all skaters in hits (7). Niskanen led all skaters in blocked shots (5). The Caps outshot the Pens 34-25 and outhit them 37-24.

What’s next: The Caps close out their mini homestand when the face the Columbus Blue Jackets Saturday night at Verizon Center. The Jackets are 2-1-0 since hiring coach John Tortorella following an 0-7-0 start.

MORE CAPITALS:  Why Caps blame themselves for loss to Penguins

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Trade to Caps potentially offers Jerabek what he never got in Montreal

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Trade to Caps potentially offers Jerabek what he never got in Montreal

Defenseman Jakub Jerabek is really happy about the opportunity to play with the Washington Capitals, but it could have come at a better time. The trade came with his parents already on their way from the Czech Republic to visit him.

“It was crazy days past three days because I had my parents on the way to Montreal and they didn't know so it was a big surprise for them,” Jerabek told reporters Saturday after his first skate with the team.

A native of the Czech Republic, Jerabek signed his first NHL contract with the Montreal Canadiens in May 2017. After spending some time in the AHL and struggling to consistently earn a spot in the Canadiens’ lineup, he knew a trade was possible.

“My family, maybe we expected some trade. When its come with Caps and it was Washington, I was really happy.”

RELATED: TRADE DEADLINE STORY TIME WITH ALAN MAY

Jerabek said he came into the NHL with no expectations and was simply happy for the opportunity, but it is fair to wonder if he was not just the least bit frustrated with how he was utilized by Montreal.

For a player with experience playing for the national team, the Czech league and the KHL, getting only 25 games with a bad Montreal team seems a bit low.

“In first two weeks, I didn't know what's going on because the coaches just told me that I played well, but we just make some competition between the [defensemen] and that I have to wait for my next chance,” Jerabek said. “It was hard, but now I'm happy down here.”

Washington now offers a very different opportunity. In need of help on the blue line, Jeraebek has the chance to earn consistent playing time for a team on pace to reach the postseason.

Jerabek will not play in Saturday’s game against Buffalo, but he was hopeful he would be in the lineup for Monday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

MORE CAPITALS: IS IT TIME FOR GRUBAUER TO START IN PLACE OF HOLTBY?

For now, Jerabek and head coach Barry Trotz are unclear as to what his ultimate role on the team will be. With eight defensemen now on the roster, Trotz cautioned any lineup decision could not be rushed because of the trickle-down effect it will have on the other players.

“You always look at chemistry and all that with your group depending how high that player goes up the lineup, it affects different people,” Trotz said. “In a forward group, if you get a guy that you all of a sudden stick on the first line, there's four other guys that are bumped down and one guy's bumped out.”

The addition of Jerabek, however, offers the Caps another defenseman who can quickly move the puck out of the defensive zone, something the team has struggled with immensely throughout the season. Though he shoots left, he also said he is comfortable playing on the right said and has played there regularly over the past few years. That provides the lineup with some flexibility on the third pair behind Matt Niskanen and John Carlson.

As for Jerabek’s parents, they will be arriving in Washington on Saturday.

“I tried to figure out the situation with them to get them to here and they will come today,” he said. “So I'm really happy.”

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Game 62: Capitals vs. Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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Game 62: Capitals vs. Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Buffalo Sabres

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Sabres will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Sabres game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

The Capitals (34-20-7) take on the Sabres (18-32-11) Saturday, February 24 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Capital One Arena.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME ON?

The Capitals-Sabres game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Sabres
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:00 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Sabres game:

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Brett Connolly - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Chandler Stephenson - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Devante Smith-Pelly - Jay Beagle - Alex Chiasson

Defensemen
Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Michal Kempny

Philipp Grubauer starts with Braden Holtby as backup

Scratches: Alex Chiasson, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

The Capitals-Panthers game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

CAPITALS-SABRES 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.