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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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Capitals survive 3-goal surge from Jets for shootout win

Capitals survive 3-goal surge from Jets for shootout win

WASHINGTON -- The Capitals saw a 3-0 lead evaporate, but still managed to earn the 4-3 shootout win on Tuesday, their second victory in as many games. On a night in which Alex Ovechkin was honored, he scored the first goal of the game and the shootout winner.

Here is how the Caps won.

701

Right after he was honored in a pregame ceremony for scoring his 700th goal, Ovechkin scored No. 701 less than two minutes into the game.

Evgeny Kuznetsov flashed some of his behind-the-net magic as he skated the puck behind the goal line, then abruptly spun and fed Ovechkin the puck. Ovechkin's first shot was blocked by Nathan Beaulieu, but he whacked the puck out of the air and behind goalie Laurent Brossoit for his 701st career goal.

This marked the second time in as many games Washington scored first, something that has been an issue of late.

Vrana's speed

Jakub Vrana scored a great goal on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Penguins thanks to his speed and a great individual effort. He did it again on Tuesday launching himself on his own breakaway.

The Jets broke the puck into the offensive zone, but the rush was halted by the defense of Dmitry Orlov and the backcheck from T.J. Oshie. Jakub Vrana picked up the loose puck and zipped straight down the middle of the ice.

When Vrana grabbed the puck, there were two Jets between him and the net. By the team he reached the opposite blue line, there was only one Jet left who could catch him. Vrana managed one last burst of speed to turn the corner and get behind the defense, then score the breakaway goal to give Washington the 2-0 lead.

The bottom-six

The acquisition of Ilya Kovalchuk was meant to improve the offense of both lines in the bottom-six. Obviously he adds offense to the third line, but moving Richard Panik to the fourth should also provide that line with more of an offensive upside. For one game at least, the return on Kovalchuk was very good.

The third line looked tremendous with Kovalchuk skating on the right. The line had a number of dominant offensive zone shifts and was able to work the cycle really well to hem the Jets in their own zone.

Kovalchuk fired three shots on goal.

The fourth line, meanwhile, scored just its second goal in the year in 2020. The line picked up a turnover in the offensive zone off a great forechecking shift and Garnet Hathaway scored on a rebound off a shot by Nic Dowd.

Hathaway's goal was his first since Dec. 23 and he was assisted by Dowd and new linemate Panik.

Braden Holtby

Holtby had another strong performance in net ensuring the Caps could build on their early lead. The Jets fired 17 shots on goal in the second period alone and he stopped 16 of them. He finished the game with 30 saves and made an additional three stops in the shootout.

Physical play

The Caps pushed Winnipeg around in this one. Badly.

While the official hit total was pretty close (25-17), what the Caps lacked in quantity they made up for in quality. They laid a number of vicious hits on the Jets and they just did not have the muscle to match.

Dmitry Orlov in particular was in an ornery mood as he delivered two huge hits. One he delivered to Patrik Laine drew the ire of Andrew Copp. Copp went to defend his teammate and Tom Wilson decided to defend his. Copp qiuckly backed down and did not respond to a few jabs from Wilson or even a big hit from Wilson later in the shift.

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Monumental Sports' service pup Scout tries his talents on the ice

Monumental Sports' service pup Scout tries his talents on the ice

There are cute videos of dogs, and then there are cutie videos of dogs trying to ice skate.

Monumental Sports is helping raise a service-dog-in-training named Scout. The puppy will hang out with the Capitals (who have a dog of their own named Captain), Wizards and Mystics until he’s ready to graduate as a full-time service dog for America’s VetDogs.

Scout joined the Capitals on the ice for their pregame skate Tuesday night and tested his puck-handling skills while trying to figure out how to stay up on all fours.

Let’s just say he has a little work to do.

Luckily for Scout, he’ll have plenty of chances to practice as a frequent visitor of the Capitals’ facilities.

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