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Dmitry Orlov's third period mistakes prove costly in Caps' loss to Islanders

Dmitry Orlov's third period mistakes prove costly in Caps' loss to Islanders

Locked in a goalies' duel, the Caps blinked first in a 3-0 loss to the New York Islanders on Thursday.

How it happened: Braden Holtby and Jaroslav Halak were perfect through two periods, but a costly fumble at the blue line by Dmitry Orlov proved disastrous. With the Caps buzzing on their best power play of the night, Orlov tried to stop the puck from clearing the offensive zone, but it squirted past him. Rather than abandon the play and immediately get back on defense, Orlov instead tried to corral the puck. That left Shane Prince free behind the defense. Once Casey Czikas got the puck away from Orlov, he launced Prince on the breakaway and Prince finished the play with the game's first goal.

Just 3:28 later, the Islanders made the Caps' pay for another Orlov turnover as he chipped the puck from the corner of the defensive zone back into the slot. The Islanders pounced on it immediately and after a scrum in front of the net, Brock Nelson finally fired the puck past the helpless Holtby. Jason Chimera added another goal just one minute later as the floodgates opened.

After getting blanked the first 43:15 of the game, the Islanders scored three goals in a window of 4:28 in the third period.

What it means: The loss is the second straight for Washington and snaps a 10-game point streak for the Caps against the Islanders. The Caps have now lost three of their last five games and are 2-4-2 against Metropolitan Division foes this season.

Rookie debut: It may have ended in a loss, but it was a night to remember for Jakub Vrana who made his NHL debut. It didn't take him long to make his presence felt as he registered the Caps' first shot on goal of the game, a pretty backhand that forced a nice save from Halak. Vrana was also given the rookie treatment during warmups as the Caps let him skate out alone for a few laps before joining him on the ice.

Too little, too late: The Caps thought they had broken the scoreless tie in the last second of the first period as Justin Williams tipped in a beautiful pass by Evgeny Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov's proved to be a little too patient on the play, however. The goal was reviewed and it was determined the puck did not completely cross the line until after the clock struck 0.0 and the goal was disallowed.

You can watch it here.

It was just that kind of night for Williams. In addition to the overturned goal, he also took an elbow up high from Islanders forward Cal Clutterbuck who was not assessed a penalty. Williams also had a season-high seven shots on goal, but walked away with nothing to show for it on the scoreboard.

An old nemesis: Any mention of Halak is bound to stir up memories of the Capitals' stunning playoff loss in 2010 in which Halak stood on his head for the Montreal Canadiens in an improbable upset of the Caps. He recaptured that form on Thursday as he turned aside all 38 shots he faced in his first shutout of the season. Heading into Thursday's game, Halak's numbers on the season were not pretty. In 14 games he had managed only a .904 save percentage and a whopping 3.08 GAA. He had not allowed fewer than two goals and allowed more than two in 10 of his 14 appearances. But there's just something about the Caps when it comes to Halak.

Look ahead: The Caps head south to Tampa Bay for a Saturday night matchup with the Lightning on Saturday. They then return to Washington for a brief two-game home stand against the Buffalo Sabres and Boston Bruins.

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T.J. Oshie puts on a memorable performance in 300th game as a Capital

T.J. Oshie puts on a memorable performance in 300th game as a Capital

300 games. 108 goals. 108 assists.

Just so you're tracking, those are T.J. Oshie's stats through 300 games as a member of the Washington Capitals.

In an outstanding 5-2 victory over the New York Rangers, Oshie scored two power play goals. It was the second time in his career that Oshie recorded two such goals.

Another shot on goal — he had four in the game — would have put him at a nice-and-even 620 during his tenure with the Capitals, but hey, we can't all be perfect.

The statistical-evenness is certainly satisfying, but even if you're not a fan of quirky stats, the man has logged 216 points in 300 games. That's pretty darn good.

T.J. Oshie will seek to continue putting up great numbers as the Capitals embark on a two-week road trip. Their first stop will be Sunday in Chicago for a showdown against the Blackhawks.

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A return six months in the making for defenseman Michal Kempny

A return six months in the making for defenseman Michal Kempny

It took six months of toil and effort for Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny to make it back to an NHL game. 

He last played March 20 when a torn hamstring in a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning ended his season just a few weeks before the Stanley Cup playoffs began. That was brutal. 

A spring to heal after surgery, a summer to rehab the injury and weeks getting back in hockey shape were the steep price paid. And then it took him all of 15 minutes to score his first goal on Friday in a game against the New York Rangers. Welcome back, Michal. 

“I felt pretty good, actually. My legs felt good,” Kempny said. “Obviously not an easy situation for me. But I got to say just thank you to all of the staff, whole organization, my teammates, my family, my friends who were supporting me all the way through here and help me. It means a lot to me.”

It was an organizational project. Kempny meant so much to Washington during its Stanley Cup run of 2018. The Capitals felt his absence on the top pair with John Carlson during the first-round series loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. 

Washington coach Todd Reirden credited team trainers Jason Servis and Mike Booi and strength and conditioning coach Mark Nemish with putting Kempny in position to return early in the season.  

“Six months of investment of their time to get him back,” Reirden said. “I thought Michal looked really good.”

The goal came at 15:16 of the first period and gave Washington a 2-1 lead. Kempny jumped onto a loose pucked batted around by teammate Alex Ovechkin, quickly corralled it and beat Henrik Lundqvist for the goal. It was a pretty play and another indication that Capitals' defensemen are taking chances when they see them on the offensive end. 

In his first game back, Kempny had 14:24 of ice time. That’s about the goal the Capitals had in mind for him. He started on the third pair with fellow Czech Radko Gudas, but also played 3:42 with Carlson, who mobbed Kempny after his goal and gave him a celebratory facewash with his glove. They’re happy to have him back. 

“I just grab the puck and there was open net, so a little lucky for me,” Kempny said. “I was just excited.”

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