WASHINGTON -- The Capitals finished their preseason with a 5-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday, but the result of the game was overshadowed by Alex Ovechkin's departure in the first period due to a lower-body injury. The Caps got goals from Lars Eller, John Carlson, Tom Wilson, Anthony Mantha and an empty-netter from Nic Dowd in the win.
Here are some observations from the game.
What happened to Ovechkin?
Ovechkin initiated contact from behind on Flyers forward Travis Konecny and it appeared his left leg was caught awkwardly on the hit. Ovechkin took one step and stumbled, falling to the ice where he remained several moments before skating off under his own power and favoring his left leg. He immediately proceeded to the tunnel. After the first period, the Caps announced he would not return due to a lower-body injury.
We will have to wait and see if there is any update from head coach Peter Laviolette in his postgame press conference. Several players rotated in Ovechkin's spot at left wing on the top line through the rest of the game.
Two areas the Caps need to clean up
If I had to pinpoint the two biggest areas the Caps need to improve on from the preseason I would say turnovers and clearing the defensive zone. Really, a lot of the problems clearing the zone stem from turnovers, so you could probably just trim the list down to turnovers as being the biggest priority.
In the second period, Nick Jensen lost the puck in the defensive zone that led to a mini 2-on-1 break. Dmitry Orlov made a great defensive play to poke away the pass, but the Caps again failed to corral and clear the puck, eventually leading to Claude Giroux's goal.
Just over a minute later, Cam Atkinson stole the puck right off the stick of Carlson in the offensive zone. Atkinson would then score on the resulting 2-on-1.
Later in the second, Atkinson would score again as he pounced on an errant drop pass in the defensive zone from Evgeny Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov and Orlov got their signals crossed as no one seemed to realize Kuznetsov was dropping the puck off.
Three goals for the Flyers in the second period, all the result of turnovers.
Kempny has improved, but the turnovers are still there
Kempny has talked a lot about needing to improve his reads in-game. That has to include some of the passes he is making.
Kempny gave up an early turnover as he held the puck in the defensive zone and tried a cross-ice pass through the neutral zone while under no pressure. It was an unforced error, a pass that had little chance of reaching its intended target and a pass he just did not need to make.
This isn't to single out Kempny, just about everybody had trouble with turnovers in this game. Kempny, however, is under the microscope as he tries to return to the lineup after missing all of last season and is in a competition with Martin Fehervary for playing time.
On a positive note, I felt Kempny's defensive play seemed to improve. There was one moment where he was defending Travis Sanheim 1-on-1 and Sanheim went wide to try to turn the corner on Kempny. It looked like he had a step too, but Kempny stuck with it, forced him behind the net, then managed to poke the puck away. Just a really nice defensive play all around.
Malenstyn makes his case
Laviolette said before the game that Malenstyn was noticeable in his first preseason game, but not so much in his second. It was clear Laviolette wanted to see more from Malenstyn in this game and he delivered.
Malenstyn was very noticeable in this contest, looking very sharp on the penalty kill and he had some decent setups in the offensive zone as well.
If Laviolette wanted to challenge Malenstyn in this one, Malenstyn responded well. But will it be enough to stick around with the NHL squad?
Watch out for Carlson
In three preseason games, Carlson has three goals and one assist. He looks ready to go.