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Sabres end Holtby's streak with 4-1 rout

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Sabres end Holtby's streak with 4-1 rout

Post-game analysis of the Capitals’ 4-1 loss to the Sabres Saturday night in Buffalo:

How it happened: Goaltender Braden Holtby was pulled after allowing three goals on 16 shots and lost in regulation for the first time since Nov. 10, ending a personal streak of 20-0-2. The Capitals’ special teams failed them. The power play went 0-for-4 while allowing a shorthanded goal, and the penalty killers allowed one goal on five Buffalo power-plays.

What it means: The Caps’ five-game win streak was halted.

Tough night for Orly: Caps defenseman Dmitry Orlov finished a minus-2. On the Sabres’ first goal, he was just out of the reach of  Philip Varone, who beat him to a Rasmus Ristolainen rebound for his first goal of the season 10:30 into the game. Five minutes, 30 seconds later, with the Caps on the power play, Orlov couldn’t handle a Jason Chimera pass back to the right point and chased Tim Schaller all the way down the ice as Schaller made his first goal of the season a shortie.

Holtby yanking: For just the second time this season, Holtby was pulled from a game after allowing three goals before the midway point. Following a Marcus Johansson giveaway at center ice, Sabres forward Evander Kane snapped a shot that went off the catching arm of Holtby and behind him for a 3-0 Buffalo lead.

Makeup play: After the Sabres increased their lead to 4-0 on a power-play goal against Philipp Grubauer late in the second period, Johansson breathed life into the Caps when he scored his 11th goal of the season 2:54 into the third period. Tom Wilson created the play with a hard forecheck against Buffalo defenseman Jake McCabe, who coughed the puck up to Chimera, who whipped a pass to Johansson alone in the slot.

Lineup shuffle: Center Mike Richards made his Capitals debut, centering a fourth line with Zach Sill and Michael Latta. That left Brooks Laich as a healthy scratch for the first time this season. Stan Galiev was also a healthy scratch. Through 43 games Laich had one goal on 48 shots, four assists and was a minus-6.

Richie effect: In his first game with the Caps and his first NHL game since April 9, Mike Richards saw 13:01 of ice time, including 3:16 on the penalty kill and 7 seconds on the power play. Richards had one shot on goal, had another blocked, another miss the net and he was credited with one hit. He was not on the ice for a goal for or against.

Willie effect: Tom Wilson (plus-1) was the only plus player for the Caps. He also led the Caps with six hits and went toe-to-toe in a good fight with Nick Foligno, who tossed Wilson to the ice at the end of the bout and raised his arms in triumph.  

Minus: Along with Dmitry Orlov, Justin Williams, Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov were also a minus-2.

Look ahead: The Caps and Rangers square off at 5 p.m. on Sunday at Verizon Center. It’s anyone’s guess whether Braden Holtby or Philipp Grubauer gets the start against the Rangers, who are expected to start backup Antti Raanta. 

MORE WIZARDS: Ten years later, Ovi looks back on 'The Goal'

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Ovechkin looks to match career point streak as Capitals visit Carolina tonight

Ovechkin looks to match career point streak as Capitals visit Carolina tonight

The Capitals visit the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night at PNC Arena (7 p.m., NBC Sports Washington). Alex Ovechkin can tie his career-best point streak (13 games). Washington (18-9-3, 39 points) has won three straight games. It is the first meeting this year with the Hurricanes (13-13-4, 30 points), who are in sixth place in the Metropolitan Division.                          

Here are four things to watch:

Ovechkin’s Best

Alex Ovechkin has a point in 12 straight games and is one away from matching his career high (Dec. 30, 2006-Feb. 1, 2007). Ovechkin has 19 points (13 goals, six assists) during in this streak and 18 of those have come at 5-on-5 or with the opposition's net empty (three goals). 

Going Streaking

The Capitals have a three-game winning streak and have won 11 of 14 overall. That has allowed them to extend their lead in the Metropolitan Division to three points over Columbus and seven over the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh. Even better for Washington is it has won seven of its past nine games on the road. 

Holtby starts

Interesting decision by Todd Reirden, but he goes with Braden Holtby tonight on the road in the first game of a back-to-back. Division rivalry comes into play here. Holtby gets the Hurricanes while Pheonix Copley likely plays against the Buffalo Sabres at Capital One Arena on Saturday night. Holtby has a .934 save percentage since Nov. 7. He is one shutout shy of tying Olie Kolzig (35) for most of franchise history.   

Injuries mounting

The Capitals will be without defenseman Christian Djoos, who had surgery on his left thigh and will be out “a substantial amount of time,” according to Reirden. Djoos was hurt in the Detroit game on Tuesday. That gives an opportunity to rookie Jonas Siegenthaler, who will play with Madison Bowey tonight on the third pair. Brooks Orpik is not yet back from knee surgery and it could still be some time for him. Expect a recall from AHL Hershey for Saturday's game. The Caps are down to six defensemen. 

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Djoos out indefinitely giving Seigenthaler a chance to cement himself in the NHL

Djoos out indefinitely giving Seigenthaler a chance to cement himself in the NHL

Capitals defenseman Christian Djoos is out indefinitely after undergoing a successful surgical procedure on his left thigh Thursday, the team has announced. Djoos sustained the injury in Tuesday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings.

Djoos did not practice on Wednesday and the team initially labeled him as day-to-day.

Head coach Todd Reirden said after Wednesday’s practice that he would get an update on Djoos’ status later that day from the trainers and was hopeful he could play in Friday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes.

“He got some treatment instead of going on the ice and hopefully when I get the update from the trainer, he’s headed in the right direction and can be back there on Friday.”

Reirden also said the team would wait to make any recall until they knew Djoos’ status.

The injury, evidently, was worse than feared prompting an in-season surgical procedure. Djoos has four assists in 28 games this season.

Despite Djoos’ injury, however, when asked if there would be a corresponding recall from Hershey, a team’s spokesman told NBC Sports Washington via text, “Not as of right now.”

With Djoos on the shelf and Orpik still on LTIR, this gives Jonas Siegenthaler a chance to cement himself as an NHL defenseman. Siegenthaler looked poised to make the NHL roster after a strong training camp, but Tom Wilson’s suspension forced a number of roster moves that ultimately saw the waiver exempt Seigenthaler reassigned to the AHL. He was recalled later in the season and has impressed with his play.

In five games, Siegenthaler has yet to record an NHL point, but offense is not his game. He is a physical defenseman with a similar playing style to the veteran Orpik, but much more mobile. He has not looked out of place at all since coming to the NHL despite regularly playing on a third pair with either Djoos or Madison Bowey, both of whom are only in their second NHL season.

If Siegenthaler keeps up his current rate of play, it will be very difficult to send him back to Hershey even after Djoos and Orpik return from injury.

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