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Capitals miss T.J. Oshie, lose second game to Blue Jackets

Capitals miss T.J. Oshie, lose second game to Blue Jackets

The Capitals hoped to get revenge for a loss in Columbus five days ago, but fell to the Blue Jackets at home 3-2. 

How it happened: The Capitals played without T.J. Oshie, arguably their MVP through the first 17 games of the season, and his absense hurt.

Things started well. Nicklas Backstrom put the Capitals up with an unassisted goal three minutes into the first period. Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno pulled his team even on the power play six minutes into the second period, but the Capitals quickly retook the lead with a man-advantage score of their own. Backstrom and Matt Niskanen set up Ovechkin in the waning moments of a power play halfway through the second.

That lead only lasted 14 seconds into the third, however, when Brandon Dubinsky put a move on Holtby to knot the score at two apiece. A late high-stick penalty on Backstrom gave the Jackets a man-advantage over the final 1:34 of regulation and Alexander Wennberg capitalized with the game winner. 

What it means: The Capitals will fall to 11-4-2 after the loss today. It's a bitter defeat when leading after two periods. 

Starting fast: Last season, Caps coach Barry Trotz was consistently disappointed by his teams' slow starts. That script has flipped this year. Washington struck first against Columbus, putting them on the board first in 15 of their 18 games this year. Conversely, they haven't allowed a first period goal in four games. The Capitals have led opposing teams 20-8 in first period scoring this season. They just couldn't hold on this time. 

Backstrom not letting up: Backstrom has caught fire for the Capitals in the last four games. For those keeping track, the Swedish centerman has eight points in that span, including four goals.

On Sunday he snuck the puck past Sergei Bobrovsky unassisted to give Washington an early advantage. Then minutes after the Jackets evened things in the second period, Backstrom set up Ovechkin for a one-timer to retake the lead. According to Capitals PR, Sunday marks Backstrom's fourth multi-point game of the season and the 180th of his career.

But it was Backstrom's high-sticking penalty proved disastrous at the end of regulation. 

Power play perks up: The Capitals had not scored a 5-on-4 goal since October 29th when Marcus Johansson struck on the man advantage in Vancouver. The team converted their lone power play opportunity Sunday. 

Oshie leaves hole on PK unit: Oshie (upper body) was not available Sunday, and his absence was most obvious on the penalty kill.

He and Jay Beagle made a productive tandem of forwards on the PK. The pair had scored two shorthanded goals in the last four games.

Without Oshie today, the Capitals surrended a goal to Foglino just seconds into Columbus's second-period man advantage. On the power play again with 1:34 left on the clock, the bad guys scored the winning goal. 

Look ahead: The Capitals host the Blues next Wedesday for their first meeting of the season. At 10-6-3, the Blues currently sit in second place in the Central Division. 

MORE CAPITALS: Red hot Backstrom puts Caps on the board early in 1st

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The Capitals are looking for a rare sweep of the Buffalo Sabres

The Capitals are looking for a rare sweep of the Buffalo Sabres

The Buffalo Sabres do not rank high among the Capitals’ most hated rivals, but when you look back at the history of these two teams, Washington has struggled against the Sabres more than you may think.

In the Caps’ first two seasons they faced Buffalo 10 times. Washington lost nine of those games and tied one. In fact, the Caps managed only two wins total in their first 32 meetings.

Even when Washington advanced past their initial struggles as a franchise, success against Buffalo has been hard to come by. In their 43 seasons as a team, the Caps have only managed to sweep the season series with the Sabres three times in 1988-89, 2012-13, 2016-17.

On Saturday, however, the Caps can make it four.

Buffalo visited Washington twice in December with the Caps winning each game. On Saturday, Washington heads to Buffalo for their final meeting of the season. (1 p.m., NBC Sports Washington).

Games notes

Hagelin debut

Carl Hagelin will make his Capitals debut Saturday.  He suited up for the first time with his new team on Friday after getting trade by the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday. He practice on the fourth line with Nic Dowd at center and Chandler Stephenson on the wing.

The newly acquired Nick Jensen will not be available for the game.

End of the road

Saturday’s game will be the sixth and final game of a season-long six-game road trip. Washington has already earned three wins guaranteeing them at least a .500 finish. A win Saturday will give them four out of six and turn a respectable road trip into a very good one.

Watching the standings

With two points, Washington can pull even with the New York Islanders. The Caps have 75 points while the Islanders sit in first place with 77. New York has a game in hand on Washington and they play later Saturday night, so a tie in the standings on Saturday afternoon could prove to be short-lived.

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Capitals send best wishes to now former teammate Madison Bowey

Capitals send best wishes to now former teammate Madison Bowey

Madison Bowey was traded to the Motor City earlier today as well as a second round draft pick for defenseman Nick Jensen and a fifth round draft pick. Washington promptly re-signed their new addition to a four-year, $10 million dollar contract.

After hearing the news about their teammate's departure, memebers of the Caps' took to social media to give their best wishes.

View this post on Instagram

good luck brother !!gonna miss u champ!!2

A post shared by Alexander Ovechkin (@aleksandrovechkinofficial) on

Bowey, a Stanley Cup champion, was a vital member of the 2018 Capitals' squad in their pursuit of the Cup.

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