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Caps get swept in California, lose fourth straight

Caps get swept in California, lose fourth straight

Final score: Washington Capitals 2, Anaheim Ducks 5

How it happened: After battling to a scoreless first period, the Ducks erupted for three straight goals in the second period to take control of the game. John Carlson added a tally to keep the Caps in it, but Anaheim finished them off with two more goals in the third.

What it means: The Caps have now lost four straight for the first time since Jan. 2015 and have lost four straight games in regulation for the first time since Oct.-Nov. 2014. The Pittsburgh Penguins can move ahead of Washington in the standings for first in the Metropolitan Division and for the top spot in the NHL with a win on Monday.

Goals

Ducks goal: Corey Perry, unassisted at 4:52 in the second period. Lars Eller got a bit too cute in the defensive zone and tried a soft pass from the corner that went right to Perry. Perry took it straight to the net and deked Braden Holtby for the goal. Caps 0, Ducks 1

Ducks goal: Corey Perry from Ryan Kesler and Ryan Getzlaf at 9:21 in the second period. Just moments after Holtby had to stop a 2-on-0 opportunity, the Ducks came in on the rush again and Kesler fired a wrister that Perry tipped in for his second goal of the game. Caps 0, Ducks 2

Ducks goal: Rickard Rakell from Ryan Getzlaf at 9:49 in the second period. Rakell fired a shot right off the face off that caught Holtby by surprise. Caps 0, Ducks 3

Caps goal: John Carlson (power play) from Nicklas Backstrom and Justin Williams at 12:10 in the second period. From the corner of the offensive zone, Backstrom found Carlson on the far-side at the top of the zone. The Ducks had bunched up down in the corner after the puck leaving Carlson wide open to tee up the slap shot. Caps 1, Ducks 3

Ducks goal: Ryan Getzlaf (power play) from Ryan Kesler and Corey Perry at 4:27 in the third period. Just as the Caps killed off the first penalty of a two-man advantage, Perry found Getzlaf with the sweet pass giving him a yawning net. Holtby was not able to get over in time before Getzlaf could roof the shot. Caps 1, Ducks 4

Caps goal: Marcus Johansson, unassisted at 4:57 in the third period. Johansson sent the puck to the slot looking for Kuznetsov. Instead it bounced off of Jakob Silfverberg and trickled through Bernier. Caps 2, Ducks 4

Ducks goal: Ryan Kesler from Andrew Cogliano and Jakob Silverberg at 12:42 in the third period. Silfverberg lifted the stick of Matt Niskanen to allow the puck to get buy him and into the Caps' zone. Cogliano then out-hustled everyone to the puck in the corner and backhanded a pass for Kesler that he tipped into the net. Caps 2, Ducks 5

3 stars

1. Corey Perry: Perry made short work of Eller's turnover to get Anaheim on the board, then tipped in a shot by Kesler for his second. It was just the second two-goal game for Perry this season who entered Sunday's game with 12 goals.

2. Ryan Getzlaf: Getzlaf is Anaheim's version of Nicklas Backstrom. He always seems to be involved on almost every goal. Getzlaf had a very quiet three-point night with one goal and two assists.

3. Ryan Kesler: It's Kesler's job to agitate and produce. He did his job on Sunday. Kesler got under the Caps' skin even drawing a penalty from Tom Wilson in the first period as Wilson dropped the gloves, but Kesler would not oblige. He also finished with three points on the night.

Look ahead: The Caps return home for two games with Bruce Boudreau's Minnesota Wild on Tuesday and Nashville on Thursday. They then go back on the road for a Saturday game in Tampa Bay.

Tell us what you think: The Caps have los four straight, but if the team needs to make any major changes their options are limited. The trade deadline has come and gone and there are now budding superstars waiting in Hershey who can turn the team around. What do you think Washington needs to do to shake things up and break the slump?

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Free Agency Bracket: Joonas Donskoi vs. Carl Gunnarsson

Free Agency Bracket: Joonas Donskoi vs. Carl Gunnarsson

It is almost time for NHL free agency to begin and the Capitals certainly have needs to fill and a limited budget. Who would be the best fit? Who would be the best free agent target for Washington to pursue? That’s what NBC Sports Washington wants to find out!

Our experts got together and made a bracket of the 16 best free agent fits. The bracket is divided into four regions: Third line forward, fourth line forward, depth defenseman and Caps’ free agent. Now we want you to tell us who you want to see rocking the red next year!

Every weekday we will match two free agents up against one another and present a case for each player. Then you get to vote and decide who advances!

Check out today’s semifinal matchup:

Joonas Donskoi vs. Carl Gunnarsson

2018-19 stats

Joonas Donskoi (27 years old): 80 games played for the San Jose Sharks, 14 goals, 23 assists, 37 points, 13:25 TOI

Playoffs: 12 games played for the San Jose Sharks, 1 goal, 2 assists, 3 points, 12:26 TOI

Carl Gunnarsson (32 years old): 25 games played with the St. Louis Blues, 3 goals, 4 assists, 7 points, 15:15 TOI

Playoffs: 19 games played with the St. Louis Blues, 1 goal, 2 assists, 3 points, 14:57 TOI, won Stanley Cup

Hockey-Graph contract projections 

Joonas Donskoi: 3 years, $2,847,521 cap hit

Carl Gunnarsson: 1 year, $731,159 cap hit

The case for Joonas Donskoi

Maybe Andre Burakovsky’s qualifying offer of $3.25 million means he’s back with the Capitals for another year. But it doesn’t preclude a trade and in Donskoi you’d have a similar option at a cheaper price, which matters if you only have $9.2 million in cap space left for now.

Donskoi made the offense better in San Jose in whatever role he was asked to play. He can go up and down the lineup and had a consistency to his game that Burakovsky at times lacks. Donskoi’s stats may not always reflect that, but making his teammates around him better is a valuable asset. Either way, depth scoring is important and a priority for the Capitals. 

Donskoi has every bit the Stanley Cup playoff experience as Burakovsky does if that matters to you. Donskoi has nine goals and 12 assists in 50 playoff games and Burakovsky has nine goals and nine assists in 56 playoff games. Not much to chose between the team except Donskoi would be cheaper if Washington decided to trade Burakovsky. 

The case for Carl Gunnarsson

The Caps will need a No. 6/7 defenseman after Brooks Orpik retired on Tuesday. Yes, they gave a qualifying offer to RFA defenseman Christian Djoos and they have Jonas Siegenthaler under contract, too. Both are natural left side defensemen. Going with the kids is an option. But both of them? That becomes problematic when someone gets hurt in your top two pairings and players have to bump up. 

Gunnarsson was the hero of the “Boston Pee Party” when he scored the overtime winner in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final after declaring to head coach Craig Berube at the urinal he just needed one more opportunity. Gunnarsson had just seven points in the regular season so no one should expect a ton of offense, but the point is he delivered when it mattered most.

When he is not playing the overtime hero, he is a third-pairing, stay at home defenseman who can play on the penalty kill which is pretty much exactly what the Caps need in a depth defenseman.

Take a look at Gunnarsson’s contract projection. You can’t beat that price. Sure, those projections came out before he won the Stanley Cup, but even if his price goes up, it will not be significant. You’re tinkering at the margins of the roster here and championship experience matters. 

Who’s your pick? Vote here:

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Burakovsky receives qualifying offer from Capitals

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Burakovsky receives qualifying offer from Capitals

The Capitals tendered qualifying offers to six of their seven restricted free agents at Tuesday’s 5 p.m. deadline, including forward Andre Burakovsky. 

Burakovsky, 24, had been the subject of trade rumors up until the NHL trade deadline on Feb. 25 and also in the days leading up to last week’s NHL Draft in Vancouver. Nothing came of them. Washington general manager Brian MacLellan made it clear that while teams were calling, he wasn’t about to just give away a 2013 first-round draft pick. 

“We like the player. There's been some inconsistencies there, but when he's on his game, he's a good player,” MacLellan said last Thursday. “We'd like to keep him around but obviously his name is out there a little bit, so we do talk to some teams about him. But we're not going to move him unless we get something we're comfortable with back.”

But the Capitals are still in a salary cap crunch and that could still land Burakovsky elsewhere in the coming days. His qualifying offer is $3.25 million. Washington is only $9.235 million below the salary cap of $81.5 million. If Burakovsky signs, he would provide scoring depth. He has a career-high 17 goals and has scored 12 each of the past two seasons.

The Capitals do need to see more from Burakovsky. He has struggled with confidence and consistent production over the years. But if he returns, he would be a good option to replace the expected-to-depart Brett Connolly at right wing on the third line with Lars Eller and Carl Hagelin. Connolly is an unrestricted free agent and likely out of Washington’s price range. 

By tendering a qualifying offer, the Capitals ensure that they will keep Burakovsky’s rights. If they had not then he’d be an unrestricted free agent able to sign with any team. That’s not a smart use of an asset that could still help in 2019-20. They could, of course, still trade him at any time. 

Meanwhile, forward Dmitry Jaskin was not tendered a qualifying offer. He is a free agent now. Jaskin never gained the trust of the coaching staff last season. He appeared in just 37 games despite analytics that showed he had a positive impact on the fourth line. Jaskin picked up on waivers from the St. Louis Blues in October, had two goals and four assists. He did not play in the Stanley Cup playoffs. 

Winger Jakub Vrana also received a qualifying offer, but that’s not expected to matter much as the two sides try to put together a long-term contract extension after his breakthrough 24-goal season in his second NHL year. 

The Capitals did tender a qualifying offer to defenseman Christian Djoos. An ugly thigh injury that turned into compartment syndrome and limited him to 45 games. But with Brooks Orpik retiring on Tuesday, Washington could go with Djoos and Jonas Siegenthaler as their No. 6/7 defensemen on their natural left sides. 

Fourth-line winger Chandler Stephenson also received his qualifying offer. AHL Hershey forward Colby Williams and goalie Vitek Vanacek also received qualifying offers from Washington.  

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