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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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As Capitals prepare for fourth preseason game, Devante Smith-Pelly still remains absent from game action

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As Capitals prepare for fourth preseason game, Devante Smith-Pelly still remains absent from game action

When the Capitals take to the ice in Carolina on Friday, they will again be without playoff hero Devante Smith-Pelly who has yet to play in the preseason.

Friday’s game will be Washington’s fourth of the preseason contest.

By now, every skater on the roster has played in at least one game except for Smith-Pelly, Lars Eller and John Carlson. Eller and Carlson both dealt with minor lower-body injuries that held them out of the first few days of training camp, but there has been no such issue for Smith-Pelly who has participated in every practice.

“He's still trying to get to the level where he was at last year and until he does, it doesn't do us any good as a team or for him to be playing in games,” head coach Todd Reirden said when asked about Smith-Pelly remaining out of game action. “He's working really hard to get back to that spot and he's close, but until he's at that spot, he won't be in the lineup because I don't feel that's setting a player up for success at all. We're hoping that that's in the next little bit here.”

When asked what the specific issue was with Smith-Pelly, Reirden declined to elaborate saying only, “He's just not at the level that he was at last year. That to me is really all there is to say about it. Once he gets there, he'll be in and he'll be helping us.”

For his part, Smith-Pelly told reporters he was not dealing with any injuries and that not playing was simply a coach’s decision.

“It was a short summer,” he said. “I'm not going to make any excuse or anything, but it was a short summer, a little different. Everyone's trying to get ready for the start of the year and everyone's path is a little bit different.”

Smith-Pelly scored seven goals in 75 games for the Caps in the regular season but was phenomenal in the playoffs with seven more goals in just 24 games leading to a new one-year contract with Washington.

With a roster competition for the fourth line, Smith-Pelly’s absence is not ideal, but he is in a much different position this year than last when he entered camp on a two-way contract. Now his contract is one-way and, based on Reirden’s comments, his playoff performance speaks for itself.

“[Smith-Pelly] had just a phenomenal postseason for us and he's a really important player for us. If you don't get that sort of impact from your bottom six guys then you're not going to win the Stanley Cup and he was a huge part for us. Like I said, we need him in there and I hope to have him in there soon.”

“I want to play every game, but that's coach's decision to get everyone ready for when it matters,” Smith-Pelly said. “Just like everyone else, I'm working to be ready for October 3.”

Eller will make his preseason debut in Carolina, but Carlson remains out of the lineup as well. Reirden said Carlson’s absence was a precaution and the hope is that he will be ready to play in Tuesday’s game against the St. Louis Blue.s

“[Carlson’s] done some more contact in scrimmages and in practice,” Reirden said. “He's really close, but again, it doesn't set the player up for any kind of success if we put him out there and take the chance of losing valuable players when they're not ready to go and up to speed.”

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Capitals vs. Hurricanes preseason Game 4: Time, TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

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Capitals vs. Hurricanes preseason Game 4: Time, TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

The preseason continues after the Capitals' loss in Montreal Thursday night. They are hoping to gain some momentum and dominate in Friday's game.

Even without the home advantage, they hope to take home a win as they face the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The Hurricanes are one of the four teams the Capitals will face in preseason play, along with the Bruins, Canadiens and Blues.

The Capitals and Hurricanes will meet once again, next Friday at Capital One Arena. But first, it's time to get back on the ice for Game 4 of the seven-game preseason schedule.

CAPITALS-HURRICANES PRESEASON GAME 4: HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals vs. Carolina Hurricanes

Where: PNC Arena, Raleigh, North Carolina

When: Friday, September, 21, 7:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Capitals-Hurricanes preseason game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Hurricanes preseason on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

Radio: Caps Radio 24/7

CAPITALS-HURRICANES PRESEASON TV SCHEDULE:

7:00 PM: Washington Capitals: My Day with the Cup (R)
7:30 PM: NHL Preseason: Capitals @ Carolina Hurricanes 
10:00 PM: Caps Postgame Live (LIVE)

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