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Capitals' offense can't take off in shutout loss to Jets

Capitals' offense can't take off in shutout loss to Jets

Winnipeg Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck shut the Capitals' offense down with 33 saves on Thursday, handing Washington its first shutout loss since Dec. 16.  The Caps saw their brief two-game win streak end in disappointing fashion as they failed to show the same offensive burst or physical dominance they had in recent games.

Here is how the Caps lost.

A distance shot

Ilya Samsonov turned aside 29 of the 31 shots he faced, but the first goal he allowed was one he will probably want back.

Dmitry Kulikov set up shop at the blue line and fired a slap shot that wired into the top corner over the blocker of Samsonov. Nicklas Backstrom came out to challenge Kulikov and provided a bit of a screen, but from that distance and with no deflection, that's one Washington needs its goalie to grab.

Overall, it was a really solid game for Samsonov, but this is one he needed.

Connor Hellebuyck

One reason why Kulikov's early goal loomed large was because Washington just could not solve Winnipeg's netminder. Hellebuyck stopped all 33 shots he faced for the shutout.

The Caps had chances, but you would like to see a bit more traffic in front of the net to make life harder for Hellebuyck. He was seeing the puck really well and it was going to take more traffic, more screens, more deflections to beat him on Thursday. Washington needed an ugly goal and couldn't get it.

The power play

The Caps had only three power-play opportunities for the game, but had a golden opportunity in the second period down 1-0 when Neal Pionk was called for hooking and just three seconds after his penalty expired, Anthony Bitetto was given another hooking penalty.

Washington had virtually four straight minutes of a power play at the end of the second period in a one-goal game...and did nothing with it.

A quick release

Kyle Connor had a little room to work with in the high slot and he made the most of it, firing a shot to beat Samsonov and give Winnipeg the 2-0 lead.

Mark Scheifele found Connor from behind the goal line and Radko Gudas stepped up to challenge, but Connor used a lethal quick release to put the puck in the back of the net.

No punch

One of the most noticeable differences the last few games when Washington was starting to play better was how physical the Caps were playing again. They manhandled the Penguins and wore them down in the third period. The physical play was a major aspect in Washington's dominant start on Tuesday as well when it looked like the Caps were just going to dominant the Jets.

There was none of that on Thursday.

This game lacked a lot of the physical edge that the Caps had used the last few games to dictate play and it was very noticeable in what was a sleepy affair.

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Trade, coronavirus makes for tumultuous year for Caps' defenseman Brenden Dillon

Trade, coronavirus makes for tumultuous year for Caps' defenseman Brenden Dillon

This is not the way Brenden Dillon envisioned his year going. At the start of the season, he had Stanley Cup aspirations with the San Jose Sharks. Now he is stuck in a hotel in Arlington, Va., on the other side of the country both from where he started and from where he calls home.

"What a year it's been, really," Dillon said in an interview with NBC Sports Bay Area. "I think for anybody, not just myself or not just a hockey player or a Sharks player specifically, if you were to talk to us in August what things would be like come March time, what it would be. I think it's just at this stage with how everything's gone for me, I almost feel like a little bit of just a lone ranger with where I'm at."

Dillon has been with the Sharks since getting traded by the Dallas Stars in November 2014. During his time there, he made the playoffs in each of the last four seasons including a run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2016. After several years there, San Jose began to feel like home. That was evident in the emotional postgame interview Dillon gave when contemplating if he had just played his last game with the Sharks.

"Leaving San Jose, I was there for a long time, had a home there, had everything kind of stability," Dillon said.

He added, "It's not just somewhere that you work, it's not just somewhere that you move to for hockey. It becomes your home, it becomes your family, your teammates. It becomes second nature where the streets, the people you meet not just at the rink but at the grocery stores, the mall, whatever it might be. You really build those relationships and then really with one phone call your life can completely change."

That phone call came on Feb. 18 when the Capitals traded for the veteran defenseman to shore up the team's blue line.

The trade itself wasn't a surprise. On an expiring contract and with the team being where they were in the standings, Dillon knew he was likely to get traded. When he got word he was going to Washington, he was excited for the opportunity, but that transition to a new team is rarely an easy one.

"You're going from, in my case, one side of the country to the other," Dillon said. "You're going and meeting 22, 23 new coworkers that you're going to see every day. I was very lucky to come to a team like Washington where, when I did come out this way, the guys, I was sitting right in between [Alex Ovechkin] and [John Carlson]. It was pretty cool to be a part of that. I think just the opportunity for me on the ice, it was a perfect fit for my kind of game, being able to skate, move pucks and play my physical brand of hockey. I think it was pretty seamless."

Now that transition has been put on hold as life decided to throw another monkey wrench Dillon's way with the spread of the coronavirus.

With the season paused, Dillon has stayed in an Arlington hotel trying to stay in shape and adjust to his new life. But he is making the best of it with his new teammates.

"There's been a lot of guys here who even during this time, whether it's just a few of us getting together and playing some tennis in the area," Dillon said. "I mean there's a good chunk of guys that are still in town so it's kind of been nice to at least have a little bit of that other than staring at a wall. I've done more puzzles and watched more Netflix than I think a lot of people could. I think though when it does come to the actual hockey part of things, it has been good out here. "

Dillon's mentality has remained positive through it all.

Though emotional about leaving San Jose, Dillon is excited about the chance to come to Washington to compete for a Cup. After a few weeks, he has a good idea of where the good spots are for food in Arlington and Washington, and he is thankful for his new teammates who have made an effort to make him feel welcome.

Dillon is excited for the opportunity that lays before him, he is just anxious to get going again.

"It was fun to be a part of a lot of success in San Jose for the five, six years that I was there," Dillon said. "I will forever cherish that time, from the fans to the city and I'll definitely go back and visit and see some of my friends that are in the town. But to come out here, already it's been a great, great group of guys from management to the coaches to the players specifically too. Really made me feel at home."

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Donut miss this: The best T.J. Oshie photo edits after 2-goal simulation game

Donut miss this: The best T.J. Oshie photo edits after 2-goal simulation game

Everyone loves a good donut, whether glazed, frosted or just plain old-fashioned (if you’re into that sort of thing). You know who really loves donuts? T.J. Oshie and his family.

Back when hockey was still being played, Oshie’s daughter Leni challenged her dad to score a goal and she would get him a donut in return.

Sure enough, he scored and they enjoyed what looked to be one of the best donuts ever eaten.

Now that we have entered the world of simulated hockey, Oshie’s pair of goals in NBC Sports Washington’s simulated game against the Rangers Thursday night meant we were going to see some donuts today.

The Capitals social team took it the next step, tweeting out a cut out photo of TJ Oshie celebrating and put it in front of a picture of a shelf full of donuts. From there, Caps fans went to work. Here are some of the best creations from Capitals nation.

Celebrating alongside his Nationals brethren as they won the World Series last November.

Oshie meeting Santa for the first time!

An excited Oshbabe hitting the dollar on the big wheel and earning that cool $1,000 on the Price is Right.

In the front seat of a roller coaster.

Seeing a fully-stocked shelf of soup at the grocery store.

And even better, TOILET PAPER!!

"Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings at a single bound!" It’s Super Donut Man.

Big fan of his own shirt chug at the parade!

Wait Krispy Kreme sponsors who?!?! Get this man a donut deal STAT.

And I might be a little biased, but my personal favorite: T.J. being a little jealous that his best friend is smooching his other best friend.

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