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Caps' comeback falls just short as Stars hold on for 4-3 win


Caps' comeback falls just short as Stars hold on for 4-3 win

Post-game analysis of the Capitals’ 4-3 loss to the Dallas Stars Saturday night at American Airlines Arena:

How it happened: Braden Holtby allowed four goals on 17 shots in the second period and was replaced by backup Philipp Grubauer for the third period, which saw the Capitals rally with goals from Alex Ovechkin, Justin Williams and Andre Burakovsky before running out of time.

What it means: The Caps had their win streak snapped at five and lost in regulation for just the 10th time in 54 games. The Caps’ lead in the Metro Division remains at 16 points over the Rangers but their lead over the Stars was cut to seven in the race for the Presidents’ Trophy.

Where they stand: If the season finished tonight the Caps would face the eighth-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round of the playoffs. The Pens are 7-3-0 in their last 10.

Trotz’s take: Barry Trotz said he was satisfied with a scoreless first period but said turnovers in the second period left Holtby to “hang and dry.” 

“When you turn the puck over as many times as we did and the areas we did, we just left Holts to hang and dry there,” Trotz said. “We deserved what we got. If we’re going to be a good team we need to be consistent through three period and we were not.”

Statistically speaking: The Caps were outshot 35-23 but outscored the Stars 3-0 in the third period.  They have scored at least one third-period goal in 19 straight games and rank first in the NHL with 70 third-period goals, one more than the Stars.

“We played the right way in the third,” Trotz said. “We lost the game in the second period and that’s totally on us.

“We believe no matter what the score we can come back. We have people in our room that can score and people in our room with good character.” 

Rocket man: Ovechkin’s 35th goal of the season put him two ahead of Patrick Kane in his chase for a sixth Rocket Richard Trophy as the NHL’s leading goal scorer. Ovechkin is on pace for 54 goals.

Two for Kuzy: Evgeny Kuznetsov picked up two assists and now has 19 points in his last 13 games (2 goals, 17 assists). The Chelyabinsk, Russia, native recorded his 100th career NHL point on Tuesday against the Predators, becoming the sixth Capitals player since the 1987-88 season to earn 100 career points before 150 games played (Nicklas Backstrom, Peter Bondra, Dmitri Khristich, Alex Ovechkin and Alex Semin).

Bura-cuda: With his third-period goal Andre Burakovsky now has 15 points in his last 13 games (7 goals, 8 assists) after recording 10 points (4 goals, 6 assists) in his first 38 games this season. Burakovsky’s nine-game point streak is the longest by a Capital since Nicklas Backstrom recorded a nine-game point streak during the 2012-13 season. Burakovsky played in his 100th NHL/Capitals game on Feb. 6 at New Jersey, becoming the eighth player in franchise history to reach 100 games before their 21st birthday (Bob Carpenter, Scott Stevens, Kevin Hatcher, Gaetan Duchesne, Tom Wilson, Mike Marson, Nicklas Backstrom).

What’s next: The Caps will have the day off on Sunday, then return to Kettler on Monday, where they’ll prepare to face the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday at Verizon Center.  

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2018 NHL Draft: Caps add 7 prospects, 4 from WHL


2018 NHL Draft: Caps add 7 prospects, 4 from WHL

The Caps made seven selections in the 2018 Draft this weekend. The group featured three defensemen, three forwards and a goalie. Interestingly, a couple of the picks have fathers who enjoyed lengthy NHL careers.

Meet the newest prospects:

1st round, 31st overall: D Alexander Alexeyev, WHL, 6'4", 196 pounds

The Caps' first first-round pick sine 2016, Alexeyev is a smart two-way defenseman with good size.

Read more on him here.

2nd round, 46th overall (from Florida, via New Jersey): D Martin Fehervary, Allsvenskan (Sweden), 6'2", 194 pounds

A physical style defenseman who is very strong in his own end, but does not have much offensive upside. Sort of a throwback style of play which makes him a surprise pick this high.

2nd round, 47th overall (From Colorado): F Kody Clark, OHL, 6'1", 179 pounds

Kody Clark boasts an NHL pedigree as the son of Wendel Clark, a first-round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs who recorded 330 goals and 564 career points in 763 NHL games.

3rd round, 93rd overall: F Riley Sutter, WHL, 6'3", 203 pounds

Riley Sutter also boasts a strong NHL pedigree as the son of Run Sutter and nephew of Darryl Sutter.

Riley is a power forward who played alongside Caps prospect Garrett Pilon on the Everett Silvertips in the WHL and recorded 53 points in 68 games last season.

4th round, 124th overall: G Mitchell Gibson, NAHL, 6'1", 187 pounds

A Harvard commit, Gibson posted a 1.59 GAA and .935 save percentage in the NAHL last season.

6th round, 161st overall (from Vancouver): D Alex Kannok-Leipert, WHL, 5'11", 194 pounds

The Caps certainly saw something they liked in Kannok-Leipert as they traded up from 186 to get him. That pick, along with a sixth-round pick in 2019, went to Vancouver.

7th round, 217th overall: F Eric Florchuk, WHL, 6'2", 174 pounds

Florchuk was taken with the last pick of the draft.


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GM Brian MacLellan: Capitals are close to re-signing John Carlson


GM Brian MacLellan: Capitals are close to re-signing John Carlson

DALLAS—The Caps are “really close” to signing star defenseman John Carlson to a long-term extension, GM Brian MacLellan said Friday night.

“We’re getting closer,” MacLellan said following the first round of the NHL Draft. “Hopefully we can get it done here over the next few days. We’re really close.”

Earlier in the day, the Caps cleared significant space under the salary cap ceiling by trading Philipp Grubauer and Brooks Orpik to Colorado for a second round draft pick (47th overall). 

That space will now be used to lock up Carlson, who could become the best defenseman on the open market if he were to reach it.

MacLellan met with Carlson’s agent, Rick Curran, here on Thursday night.

MacLellan did not divulge any figures, but it’s expected that Carlson’s new contract could come in at eight years and $8 million per—or perhaps a bit more. 

He earned $4 million last season.

Carlson had a career year in 2017-18 and was critical during the Caps' run to the Stanley Cup. He led all defensemen in the regular season with 68 points (15 goals, 53 assists). The 28-year-old also skated a career-high 24:47 per game.

MacLellan has long said that re-signing Carlson was the Caps’ top priority this offseason. And now it looks like that could happen within days, assuming the talks do not hit any snags.

“We’re going to do our best to sign John,” MacLellan said. “We’ve said it all along. We waited until the end of the year. We’ve had discussions. We’re close and hopefully we can close the deal here over the next 24 hours.”