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Capitals come up short in return from the All-Star break

Capitals come up short in return from the All-Star break

Final score: Capitals 2, Islanders 3

How it happened: Evgeny Kuznetsov put the Caps up in the first period which was one of the few shots Washington managed in the first two periods (outshot 22-14 through 40 minutes). Alan Quine tied the game in the second period and then it became a goalie duel until Anthony Beauvillier stole an errant pass from Jay Beagle from behind the net that turned into a Ryan Strome goal. The Islanders would add an empty-netter, but the Caps would make them sweat as Alex Ovechkin pulled Washington within one with less than a minute left.

What it means: In the final meeting between these two teams this season, the Islanders earned the series win dropping Washington’s record against them to 2-3-0. Despite the loss, the Caps still finish the month of a January with a fantastic 12-2-1 record.

Goals

Capitals goal: Evgeny Kuznetsov from Justin Williams and Brooks Orpik at 4:41 in the 1st. Kuznetsov took the pass from Williams in the neutral zone who used his speed to split the defense and snap the shot past the blocker of THOMAS Greiss. Caps 1, Islanders 0

Islanders goal: Alan Quine (power play) from Andrew Ladd and Calvin de Haan at 2:41 in the 2nd. A shot from Ladd beat Philipp Grubauer, but hit off the crossbar causing everyone on the ice to freeze. Everyone, that is, but Quine who quickly shot in the puck on the empty net. Caps 1, Islanders 1

Islanders goal: Ryan Strome from Brock Nelson and Anthony Beauvillier at 6:31 in the 3rd. Jay Beagle collected the puck behind the red line in the defensive zone and tried to reverse it back behind the net, but the pass was intercepted by Beauvillier who started a tic-tac-toe pass play that resulted in the goal for Strome. Caps 1, Islanders 2

Islanders goal: Johnny Boychuk (empty net) from Casey Cizikas and John Tavares at 18:52 in the third. Caps 1, Islanders 3

Capitals goal: Alex Ovechkin from Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov at 19:13 in the third. Alex Ovechkin rifled a one-time from the point that somehow made it through all the traffic and into the back of the net. Caps 2, Islanders 3

Three stars

1. Dennis Seidenberg: When Matt Niskanen leads the team in shots on goal, that means the Caps' offense is getting pushed to the perimeter. Seidenberg was the Islanders' top defenseman on the night and he made life very hard for Washington's forwards as he would not allow anyone to get inside of him.

2. Washington's third line: The combination of Brett Connolly, Lars Eller and Andre Burakovsky was the best line on the ice by far. They were relentless on the forecheck generating turnovers that led directly to offensive opportunities, something the team did not have enough of all night. In the rare instances where they didn't have the puck, they were strong in the defensive zone with 

3. Evgeny Kuznetsov: The star center showed way too much hesitation in the first part of the season, but you saw none of that on Tuesday. Kuznetsov was quick to call his own number in the first period as he split the seam in the defense and fired the puck into the back of the net.

Look ahead: The Caps return home for the second leg of a back-to-back on Wednesday against the Boston Bruins. Then it's another back to back over the weekend as they head to Montreal on Saturday and host the Los Angeles Kings on Super Bowl Sunday.

Tell us what you think: The Capitals have now allowed a power play goal in five straight games despite being the top defensive team in the league. Why do you think the team is suddenly struggling with the extra man?

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Ovechkin looks to match career point streak as Capitals visit Carolina tonight

Ovechkin looks to match career point streak as Capitals visit Carolina tonight

The Capitals visit the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night at PNC Arena (7 p.m., NBC Sports Washington). Alex Ovechkin can tie his career-best point streak (13 games). Washington (18-9-3, 39 points) has won three straight games. It is the first meeting this year with the Hurricanes (13-13-4, 30 points), who are in sixth place in the Metropolitan Division.                          

Here are four things to watch:

Ovechkin’s Best

Alex Ovechkin has a point in 12 straight games and is one away from matching his career high (Dec. 30, 2006-Feb. 1, 2007). Ovechkin has 19 points (13 goals, six assists) during in this streak and 18 of those have come at 5-on-5 or with the opposition's net empty (three goals). 

Going Streaking

The Capitals have a three-game winning streak and have won 11 of 14 overall. That has allowed them to extend their lead in the Metropolitan Division to three points over Columbus and seven over the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh. Even better for Washington is it has won seven of its past nine games on the road. 

Holtby starts

Interesting decision by Todd Reirden, but he goes with Braden Holtby tonight on the road in the first game of a back-to-back. Division rivalry comes into play here. Holtby gets the Hurricanes while Pheonix Copley likely plays against the Buffalo Sabres at Capital One Arena on Saturday night. Holtby has a .934 save percentage since Nov. 7. He is one shutout shy of tying Olie Kolzig (35) for most of franchise history.   

Injuries mounting

The Capitals will be without defenseman Christian Djoos, who had surgery on his left thigh and will be out “a substantial amount of time,” according to Reirden. Djoos was hurt in the Detroit game on Tuesday. That gives an opportunity to rookie Jonas Siegenthaler, who will play with Madison Bowey tonight on the third pair. Brooks Orpik is not yet back from knee surgery and it could still be some time for him. Expect a recall from AHL Hershey for Saturday's game. The Caps are down to six defensemen. 

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Djoos out indefinitely giving Seigenthaler a chance to cement himself in the NHL

Djoos out indefinitely giving Seigenthaler a chance to cement himself in the NHL

Capitals defenseman Christian Djoos is out indefinitely after undergoing a successful surgical procedure on his left thigh Thursday, the team has announced. Djoos sustained the injury in Tuesday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings.

Djoos did not practice on Wednesday and the team initially labeled him as day-to-day.

Head coach Todd Reirden said after Wednesday’s practice that he would get an update on Djoos’ status later that day from the trainers and was hopeful he could play in Friday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes.

“He got some treatment instead of going on the ice and hopefully when I get the update from the trainer, he’s headed in the right direction and can be back there on Friday.”

Reirden also said the team would wait to make any recall until they knew Djoos’ status.

The injury, evidently, was worse than feared prompting an in-season surgical procedure. Djoos has four assists in 28 games this season.

Despite Djoos’ injury, however, when asked if there would be a corresponding recall from Hershey, a team’s spokesman told NBC Sports Washington via text, “Not as of right now.”

With Djoos on the shelf and Orpik still on LTIR, this gives Jonas Siegenthaler a chance to cement himself as an NHL defenseman. Siegenthaler looked poised to make the NHL roster after a strong training camp, but Tom Wilson’s suspension forced a number of roster moves that ultimately saw the waiver exempt Seigenthaler reassigned to the AHL. He was recalled later in the season and has impressed with his play.

In five games, Siegenthaler has yet to record an NHL point, but offense is not his game. He is a physical defenseman with a similar playing style to the veteran Orpik, but much more mobile. He has not looked out of place at all since coming to the NHL despite regularly playing on a third pair with either Djoos or Madison Bowey, both of whom are only in their second NHL season.

If Siegenthaler keeps up his current rate of play, it will be very difficult to send him back to Hershey even after Djoos and Orpik return from injury.

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