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3 reasons the Capitals lost to the Maple Leafs

3 reasons the Capitals lost to the Maple Leafs

The Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs battled to a 2-2 tie through 40 minutes, but a key power play in the third period gave the Maple Leafs a lead they would not relinquish as the Caps fell 4-2.

A star-studded matchup did not provide as much offense as you may have expected, but it did produce a tight, well-played game between two of the league’s best teams.

Here are three reasons why the Caps lost.

Deflections

Washington took a 1-0 and a 2-1 lead, but each time Toronto was able to tie the game off a deflection.

In the second period, Kasperi Kapanen got his stick on a blue line shot from Ron Hainsey that deflected past Braden Holtby. The Caps petitioned for a high-stick infraction, but the replay showed Kapanen’s stick was well below the bar.

Later in the second, Jake Gardiner threw an innocent looking puck in front of the net, but Par Lindholm was on the back door and deflected the centering pass on net and Holtby was not able to glove it.

Holtby was fantastic in this game and the Leafs just could not get a clean shot into the back of the net. The deflection goals, however, count just as much.

A third period high-stick

Heading into Saturday’s game, Toronto was producing at 50-percent on the power play. The Maple Leafs were absolutely lethal with the extra man and it cost the Caps in the third period.

In a 2-2 game, Michal Kempny was booked for a high-stick on John Tavares. It was Toronto’s third power play of the game and you knew the Caps were playing with fire.

Sure enough, a shot from Andreas Johnsson hit off the skate of John Carlson and bounced to the far-side to Josh Leivo who had a lot of room to shoot. He made it count.

The Caps’ penalty kill did well to kill off the first two penalties, but the third proved to be the backbreaker as it provided Toronto with the game-winning goal.

Swarming to Ovechkin

The Maple Leafs were all over Alex Ovechkin all game long and really limited his opportunities.

Wait, didn't Ovechkin have two points?

Yes, Ovechkin tallied two assists in the game and had two shots on goal. The big number, however, was seven. That’s how many Ovechkin shots the Leafs blocked. Toronto blocked 12 shots from players not named Ovechkin in this game, so clearly they were giving the Great 8 a lot of attention.

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Capitals vs. Islanders: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

Capitals vs. Islanders: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

Making his return to Capital One Arena, Barry Trotz will lead his New York Islanders against the Washington Capitals. 

It will be the first time Trotz sees the Stanley Cup banner in person and the second time that he will go at odds with his former team. 

But as things stand for both teams, they are going in opposite directions. The Isles are one of the hottest teams in the league, winners of 12 of their last 16 contests.  Washington quite possibly has hit their post-Stanley Cup hangover, and is 4-4-2 in their last 10. 

These two teams met up earlier this season and they already gave Trotz his ring, but the Caps got the victory. With the way the two teams are trending right now in the Metro division, Trotz may get his revenge. 

Here is everything you need to know about the Friday night game, which takes place at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Washington.

CAPITALS vs. ISLANDERS HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals vs. New York Islanders Game 47 of the 2018-19 NHL Regular Season

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington D.C.

When: 7:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: The Capitals vs. Islanders game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington

Live Stream:  You can live stream Islanders at Capitals on the MyTeams by NBC Sports App.

Radio: Caps 24/7 Radio, 106.7 The Fan FM

CAPITALS vs. ISLANDERS TV SCHEDULE

6:30 PM: Caps Faceoff Live
7:00 PM: Caps Pregame Live
7:30 PM: Capitals vs. Islanders
10:00 PM: Caps Postgame Live
10:30 PM: Caps Overtime Live
11:00 PM: D.C. Sports Live

CAPITALS vs. ISLANDERS INJURY REPORT:

Capitals: Christian Djoos (leg, Injured Reserve)

Islanders: Thomas Hickey (upper body, day-to-day), Andrew Ladd (lower body, Injured Reserve)

CAPITALS vs. ISLANDERS PLAYERS TO WATCH

Braden Holtby, G, Capitals (17-10-2, 2.80 GAA): Holtby missed the past two games for Caps due to an eye injury he suffered on Jan. 12 against Columbus. His status is still up in the air for this matchup, but in the past 150+ minutes (2.5 games) without Holtby the team has allowed 12 goals.

Alex Ovechkin, F, Capitals (33 G, 19 A, 52 Pts): As much as the defense has struggled, so has the offense. Four goals in the past three games is all the Caps can muster, with one of the four coming off of the stick of Ovechkin. He has not been the reason for the lack of the offense, but Ovi needs to get them out of the funk. 

Robin Lehner, G, Islanders (13-7-3, 2.16 GAA): Dominating is all that Lehner has been doing for the Isles as of late and is a huge part of their comeback. When he's made it on the ice, the team has won nine of their last 10. His GAA is tops in the NHL and his save percentage (.928) is second. Not a good recipe for a Caps team that has trouble finding the net. 

CAPITALS vs. ISLANDERS SERIES HISTORY

Number of all-time Meetings: 252 (37 postseason)

All-Time Series Record: Capitals lead 124-115-13

Regular Season Record: Capitals lead 108-94-13

Playoff Record: Islanders lead 21-16

Last Meeting: Caps win 4-1 OT (11/26/18)

Last 10: Capitals lead 6-4

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Capitals prospect report: MacLellan evaluates Samsonov's season, talks on his future

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Capitals prospect report: MacLellan evaluates Samsonov's season, talks on his future

Considering just how good a goalie Ilya Samsonov looked in the KHL, you could be forgiven for thinking he would make an easy transition to the AHL. It has not worked out that way.

The transition to the North American game can be harder on some than others and the numbers have been pretty ugly this season. In 19 appearances for Hershey, Samsonov has a 3.40 GAA and .871 save percentage.

Yikes.

But the Capitals are not concerned.

General manager Brian MacLellan acknowledged it has been a difficult year, but he still sees the talent behind the ugly numbers.

“I think he’s being challenged, I think that league is a hard league for goalies to adapt to,” MacLellan said. “I think his numbers aren’t great, but I think the way he is, the athletic ability is still evident in the way he plays. So, we’re still optimistic that he’s going to figure it out, but I think it’s been a challenging year in a difficult league for him. I think that going through this process is going to make him better in the end. I think he’s learning a lot, I think he has a lot more respect for the American League than he did coming into it. I think he’s adapting off the ice which is probably just as important as on the ice for his long-term development.”

MacLellan also said Samsonov is about where the team expected him to be in his progression.

“I think we would have anticipated this year to be up and down, he'd have good spots and weak spots and it'd take him a year to figure out the league and then next year he would be a good goalie in that league. I don't think he's behind or ahead of any schedule that he had.”

MacLellan’s faith appears well founded. After speaking on Samsonov, the young netminder recorded back-to-back shutouts, the first Hershey goalie to do so since Pheonix Copley on Oct. 19 and 26 in 2014, per Penn Live.

For now, Samsonov appears to be Hershey’s No. 2 goalie behind Vitek Vanecek who earned his first AHL All-Star nomination with a 2.87 GAA and .901 save percentage. But according to MacLellan, this year was all about adjusting for Samsonov. He anticipates him remaining in Hershey next season where he will have a much more dominant season in his second year of North American competition.

Other prospect notes:

  • Speaking of Samsonov, he remains the Caps’ top prospect according to TSN’s Craig Button. Button ranked the top 50 NHL-affiliated prospects and Samsonov came in at No. 27. Alex Alexeyev was the second Caps’ prospect to make the list at No. 33.
  • MacLellan also spoke one on one with Mike Vogel and said this about the team’s prospects: "I think [Connor] Hobbs is coming, he's getting more consistent in his game. We like his progress. Lucas [Johansen] has taken a step back here with the injury. We'll wait and see how he does in the last part of the year. Really optimistic about the two guys we drafted last year, [Alex] Alexeyev and [Martin] Fehervary. Both had strong world junior camps, both had good training camps and good rookie camps. We're excited about those two, also."
  • Vanecek is very excited about going to the AHL All-Star game.
  • Beck Malenstyn received some high praise from Hershey coach Spencer Carbery who called Malenstyn “our Tom Wilson.” Check out this feature on Malenstyn who is certainly making an impact in his first professional season.
  • Riley Barber has 14 points in his past 10 games. He owns a team-high 10 multi-point games this season. If the Caps find themselves in need of a forward call up, Barber will be near or at the top of the list. At his age (24), however, and on the final year of his contract, you have to wonder what his future is with the organization. He is a great player for Hershey, but has his chance of becoming a full-time NHLer passed him by?
  • Brian Pinho’s goal on Sunday against Lehigh Valley was the first game-winning goal of his professional career.
  • Mike Sgarbossa played in his 400th professional game on Wednesday and recorded an assist. He currently ranks first on the Bears in goals (17), third in assists (14) and second in points (31).
  • Chase Priskie has been nominated for the Hobey Baker Award, college hockey’s most prestigious award. He is one of 83 (!!!) nominees. Yes, 83. I don’t know why the Hobey Baker Award Foundation chooses to water itself down with so many nominees and it’s a shame because Priskie should be considered among the top finalists. Priskie ranks second in the ECAC in points (27) and is tied for first in goals (13) and he’s doing it as a defenseman. A statement released by Quinnipiac said “Among defensemen, Priskie ranks even higher as he leads the nation in goals, goals per game, power-play goals, power-play points, game-winning goals (5), shots (88) and shots on goal per game (4.00). He is also second with 27 points and third with 1.23 points per game.” (One thing to note, the statement says there are 81 nominees. I counted, there are 83). The first phase of the award process is a fan vote which you can do here. The voting is open until March 10.

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