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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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Russians lead the way in Caps' simulated win over Maple Leafs

Russians lead the way in Caps' simulated win over Maple Leafs

Alex Ovechkin scored twice, Ilya Kovalchuk provided another and Ilya Samsonov did the rest in net on Tuesday to lead the Capitals to a 3-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs in an NHL 20 simulated game.

Result: Caps 3, Maple Leafs 2

1st period

1-0 Caps goal: Alex Ovechkin from Evgeny Kuznetsov

1-1 Maple Leafs goal (power play): Zach Hyman from Denis Malgin

2nd period

2-1 Caps goal: Ilya Kovalchuk from Richard Panik and Nic Dowd

3rd period

3-1 Caps goal: Alex Ovechkin from Tom Wilson and John Carlson

3-2 Maple Leafs goal: Auston Matthews from Mitch Marner and Zach Hyman


How the Caps won

1. Ovechkin is back

Alex Ovechkin did not score in any of the first three games since NBC Sports Washington began broadcasting the NHL 20 simulations beginning on March 24. He finally broke through with a goal Monday against the Buffalo Sabres and the flood gates were open. He scored twice on Tuesday giving him three goals in two games.

Evgeny Kuznetsov cut off a breakout pass from Jake Muzzin and set up Ovechkin on the backdoor for Washington's first goal. In the third period, Kuznetsov won a puck battle and the Caps pulled off a nice passing play from Carlson to Wilson to Ovechkin for the one-timer. That goal proved to be the game-winner.

2. Kovalchuk breaks the tie

The Caps and Maple Leafs battled to a 1-1 tie through the first period.  Kovalchuk made sure the game would not be tied again in the second with a heads-up play to the net.

Locked in a board battle in the corner of the offensive zone, the puck was kicked back to Panik near the blue line. For some reason, Kovalchuk was the only player in the corner who wasn't caught watching the puck. He made a quick cut to the middle out of the scrum and Panik returned the puck back to him. Kovalchuk had a step on defenseman Martin Marincin and beat goalie Frederik Andersen glove-side.

3. Ilya Samsonov

Washington was the better team in this game, but Toronto is a skilled enough team that they can strike quickly if there is no cushion on the scoreboard. The last several simulated games have been blowout wins for Washington, but this one was not. The Caps needed every last save from Samsonov and he delivered with an outstanding performance.

Next game

The Caps were scheduled to play the Minnesota Wild at home on Thursday. The game will be simulated with NHL 20 on NBC Sports Washington at 7 p.m.

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Alex Ovechkin and his son Sergei team up for a Capitals simulation game

Alex Ovechkin and his son Sergei team up for a Capitals simulation game

The only thing better than watching Alex Ovechkin actually play hockey is watching him virtually play with his son Sergei.

During the NHL's hiatus, Ovechkin is keeping the family fun going, as this video from his wife's Instagram account shows him playing NHL 20 with his son Seregi on his lap. 

Ovi and Ovi Jr. are both dialed into the TV screen, which shows the Caps simulation game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. 

In fact, even as the camera pans to their faces, they both only take a quick glance before returning their focus to the action on the ice. 

With this duo manning the controls, the Caps no doubt secured a virtual win. 

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