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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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10 changes that would make the NHL better

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USA TODAY Sports

10 changes that would make the NHL better

Hockey is one of the most incredible, compelling sports in the world. As fun as it is to watch on TV, it is even more compelling in person and fans in North America are treated to the best hockey in the world as played in the NHL.

But the NHL's not perfect.

SEE THE 10 CHANGES THAT WOULD MAKE THE NHL BETTER HERE

Just like every sports league, the NHL is always adjusting and making changes to the game in order to improve it through things like rule changes, expansion, playoff formats, etc.

No sport is perfect and hockey is not without its flaws, but there are a number of clear changes that could be made that would improve both the game and the league.

 SEE THE 10 CHANGES THAT WOULD MAKE THE NHL BETTER HERE

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Brian MacLellan got his day with the Stanley Cup over the weekend

Brian MacLellan got his day with the Stanley Cup over the weekend

Washington Capitals GM Brian MacLellan finally got his day. 

Over the weekend, MacLellan played host to the Stanley Cup, taking it home to his offseason house in Minnesota. 

MacLellan brought the Cup to Powderhorn Park, where a youth hockey tournament was being put on by the Herb Brooks Foundation. 

MacLellean talked with local media about the experience:

"It's a fun day, a fun day to see people react to the Cup," MacLellan told FOX 9 TV. "You know, it brings a lot of smiles to people's faces, people that sometimes don't get a chance to get close to it are getting an opportunity and it's fun to watch them enjoy it."

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