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Caps' Burakovsky takes next step in his recovery Sunday

Caps' Burakovsky takes next step in his recovery Sunday

Andre Burakovsky took another next step in his recovery from a broken right hand Sunday when he joined members of Washington's training and equipment staff for a small ice scrimmage at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.

Burakovsky did not go all out, but for nearly an hour he skated hard, handled the puck and made crisp passes. He also took several shots, though he appeared reluctant or unable to fire the puck as hard as he normally does.

Although the session was non-contact in nature, Burakovsky went hard enough that he made some incidental contact. He even went down a few times.

As he came off the ice afterward, he said his hand felt good and added that he hopes to join his teammates for practice in the coming week. He also acknowledged that the decision will ultimately be made by the team’s medical staff.

The third line winger has missed the Caps’ last 12 games.

The original prognosis was for Burakovsky to be sidelined until mid or to late March. The 22-year-old did not need surgery and had the cast removed on March 2.

Coach Barry Trotz said recently that he remains on schedule.

Burakovsky has been skating with strength and conditioning coach Mark Nemish for several weeks. He has yet, however, to practice with his teammates. His next opportunity to join the group will be Tuesday when the Caps hit the ice in Arlington for a morning skate ahead of hosting Bruce Boudreau and the Wild at Verizon Center.

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The Caps aren't leading the Metro Division for the first time since Oct. 19

The Caps aren't leading the Metro Division for the first time since Oct. 19

For the first time since Oct. 19, the Capitals do not sit in first place of the Metropolitan Division. The Pittsburgh Penguins jumped Washington with a 5-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday ending a streak of 122 days in which the Caps sat atop the division.

Pittsburgh won despite Evgeni Malkin missing the game due to illness. It was a fitting way to take first place given how the Penguins have overcome a number of significant injuries this season. Anthony Angelo played in Malkin’s place and scored his first NHL goal. Jason Zucker also scored his third goal in just his fourth game with the Penguins after getting acquired by Pittsburgh in a trade.

Pittsburgh has now won six of its last eight with its only two losses coming against the red-hot Tampa Bay Lightning.

By contract, the Caps have lost four of their last five. Since Dec. 23, no team in the Metropolitan Division has earned fewer points than Washington which has gone 11-11-0 during the stretch, allowing Pittsburgh to close the gap in the standings.

The Caps and Penguins appear to be two teams headed in different directions. The good news for Washington is that it is February and there is still time for them to rally. With three games left to be played between the Caps and Pittsburgh this season, Washington will have ample opportunity to reclaim supremacy of the division. For now, however, the Penguins certainly look like the team to beat within the Metro.

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Trade acquisition Brenden Dillon ‘couldn’t be happier’ to be joining Capitals

Trade acquisition Brenden Dillon ‘couldn’t be happier’ to be joining Capitals

The Capitals made their first significant trade of the season on Tuesday, acquiring defenseman Brenden Dillon from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for a 2020 second-round pick and a conditional 2021 third.

Dillon, who’s spent the last six seasons with the Sharks, was emotional Monday night when asked for his thoughts on potentially playing his last game with San Jose. He choked up during his answer and had to walk away from the media scrum to collect himself.

The mood was a bit different Tuesday when Dillon found out he’d be heading to D.C. to play with the Metropolitan Division-leading Capitals.

“I’m really excited,” Dillon said. “I can’t wait to get out there. I mean obviously the opportunity, the team, the group, what an opportunity.”

The Capitals have been widely rumored to be seeking a defenseman to bolster their blue line and Dillon was an attractive piece as Washington didn’t have to part with a first-round pick in order to get him. After losing six of their last nine games, the Capitals are looking for a spark—and Dillon can’t wait to help get them back on track.

“It’s been crazy, it really has,” Dillon said. “I think just mentally, guys can say, ‘You don’t read this or don’t read that.’ But it wears on you for sure and I’ve just kinda tried to bring the lunch pail to work every day and do my job. But definitely couldn’t be happier to get going.”

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