Canadiens drop Caps to 0-3 for 1st time since '93

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Canadiens drop Caps to 0-3 for 1st time since '93

WASHINGTON (AP) Andrei Markov's resurgence continued with a goal and an assist, and the Montreal Canadiens cruised to a 4-1 win Thursday night over the Washington Capitals, who are 0-3 for the first time in nearly two decades.

Finally healthy after twice tearing the ACL in his right knee, Markov was part of a second-period spree in which the Canadiens scored in all sorts of ways against a Capitals team that is out of sorts. In order, Montreal's goals came 5-on-3, 5-on-4 and 5-on-5 in a little over 6 minutes to take a 3-0 lead.

Tomas Plekanec, Brian Gionta and Josh Gorges scored for the Canadiens, and Carey Price made 30 saves. Montreal, the worst team in the Eastern Conference a year ago, has won two straight under new coach Michel Therrien since opening the season with a loss to Toronto.

The Capitals also have a new coach teaching a new system, and he is having a much harder time getting his players in gear after a compressed training camp in the lockout-shortened season. Adam Oates' team has been outscored 14-6 through three games, with seven of the opponents' goals coming on power plays.

Joey Crabb's goal with 2:23 to play was the lone goal for the Capitals, and two-time NHL MVP Alex Ovechkin remains without a goal on the season. Oates shook things up by putting Wojtek Wolski on the first line with Ovechkin, and the two ran into each other in the offensive zone in the first period. Michal Neuvirth made his first start of the season in net, but he had a realistic chance to stop only one of the four Montreal goals.

The result was frequent booing throughout the game for the Capitals, who are 0-3 for the first time since dropping six straight to start the 1993-94 season.

Washington also ended a six-game winning streak against Montreal and lost in regulation to the Canadiens for the first time since Nov. 20, 2009.

Markov has three goals on the season, helping to mitigate the absence of Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban, who is a restricted free agent and has yet to come to terms on a new contract.

Markov supplied the assist on the game's first goal, sliding the puck to Plekanec during a two-man advantage while Ovechkin and Troy Brouwer were in the penalty box.

Markov put in an easy rebound to make it 2-0 during a power play just 63 seconds later.

The third goal came after a classic defensive lapse. Three Capitals chased the puck into the corner, leaving Gionta alone in front of the net to receive a pass from Rene Bourque.

Josh Gorges made it a four-goal lead late in the second period.

Notes: Washington hasn't been shut out by Montreal since 2008, but the Capitals have shut out Montreal five times during that span. ... Matt Hendricks, who got into a fight in Washington's previous game to try to give his team a boost, was at in again Thursday, tussling with Montreal's Brandon Prust in the third period.

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Follow Joseph White on Twitter:http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP

2015-16 Season in Review: Mike Weber

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2015-16 Season in Review: Mike Weber

With the Capitals’ 2015-16 season now in the rearview mirror, we continue with our numerical player-by-player roster analysis.

No. 6 Mike Weber

Age: 28 (turns 29 on Dec. 16)

Games: 45 (10 with Caps, 35 with Buffalo)

Goals: 1 (with Buffalo)

Assists: 4 (with Buffalo)

Points: 5

Plus-minus: Plus-2 (minus-1 with Caps)

Penalty minutes: 60 (28 with Caps)

Time on ice: 15:28 (13:58 with Caps)

Playoff stats: 2 games, 0 goals, 0 assists, minus-1, 0 PIM, 9:51

Contract status: Unrestricted free agent ($2 million salary in 2015-16)

Mike Weber will remember his short stint in Washington as one of the best experiences of his NHL career. Caps fans may not.

Acquired from the Buffalo Sabres for a third-round pick in the 2017 NHL draft, Weber’s final act as a member of the Capitals was a crushing one.

It came in Game 4 in Pittsburgh, a game in which the Penguins were without suspended defenseman Kris Letang and the Capitals were one win away from tying the series. With 2:34 gone in overtime, Conor Sheary threw a puck toward the net. Weber blocked it on his backhand, but as the puck trickled away from him he jabbed at it, sending it right onto the stick of Patric Hornqvist. The Penguins’ right wing snapped a shot between the legs of Braden Holtby to give the Penguins a 3-2 win and a commanding 3-1 series lead.

Weber, who appeared in only one other playoff game for the Caps – a series-clinching Game 6 win in Philadelphia -- never played another shift for the Capitals. And as an unrestricted free agent on July 1, there’s a good chance he never will again.

But that didn’t stop Weber from raving about the Capitals and how close he thinks they are to winning the first championship in team history.

“Obviously, it’s a pretty special group,” Weber told reporters on breakup day. “We didn’t accomplish what we wanted to accomplish, but for myself, being in a situation where I was somewhere for so long and to come in and be welcomed by this group was pretty special.

“What this group was able to do and accomplish while I was here before (the playoffs,) it was a record-setting year. But obviously it’s disappointing that we’re talking to you guys right now.”

Weber spent his entire eight-year NHL career in Buffalo before coming to the Capitals in a trade deadline deal. He played in 10 of the Capitals’ final 24 games of the regular season and just two of their 12 playoff games, filling in admirably as a no-frills, 6-foot-2, 212-pounder. It was during his two months with the Capitals that Weber saw something he had never experienced in his eight years with the Sabres.     

“You don’t say this too often,” he said. “I’ve played on teams where guys haven’t been close and you know some guys aren’t going to battle every night. You’ve got some guys on board and you’ve got some guys not.

“Coming in here and seeing the way this locker room is – there was stuff away from the scenes that (media) don’t really get to see. This is a special group, and a good thing going forward is a lot of this group is going to be together and can hopefully get it done in the future.

“But again, I felt privileged and honored that I was able to wear a Washington Capitals jersey this year and be able to play some games for this team and try to do what I can when I did.”

The Capitals have six defensemen under contract for next season – John Carlson, Matt Niskanen, Karl Alzner, Brooks Orpik, Taylor Chorney and Nate Schmidt – and another (Dmitry Orlov) they expect to re-sign as a restricted free agent. With prospects like Tyler Lewington, Madison Bowey, Christian Djoos and Jonas Siegenthaler knocking on the door, it’s pretty clear Weber will hope to catch on with another NHL team through free agency. July 1 will mark his first time as an unrestricted free agent.  

“I’ve done my job, I’ve played,” He said. “I’ve got a body of work and now it’s time to kind of let the pieces fall. I’d love to be back in Washington. I’d love to be back playing here with this group of guys, but it’s a business and you’ve got to accept that and be patient and see what the summer brings.”

From a personal standpoint, Weber said he was excited to be reuniting with his family in Buffalo, from where he left shortly after his wife gave birth to the couple’s second child in late February.

“I’ve got a great family and two great kids that I get to go home to this summer and make sure I’m ready to play, wherever that may be,” Weber said. “I’m looking forward to getting home. Obviously, it is under terrible circumstances, but it’ll be nice to get home to the kids and my wife.”

MacLellan hints at increased roles for Wilson, Orlov

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MacLellan hints at increased roles for Wilson, Orlov

Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan went on a little radio blitz on Tuesday, appearing on the Grant and Danny Show on 106.7 The Fan and again on SiriusXM NHL Network Radio.

Much of the discussion centered around the Capitals’ intention to improve their speed and quickness on the third line, along with the continued development of 22-year-old right wing  Tom Wilson and 24-year-old defenseman Dmitry Orlov.

Since entering the NHL as a 19-year-old in 2013-14 under Capitals head coach Adam Oates, Wilson’s offensive numbers have modestly increased, from three goals and seven assists (151 penalty minutes) as a rookie to four goals and 13 assists (172 PIM) in Year 2 and seven goals and 16 assists (163 PIM) this season. His ice time has also increased, from 7:56 as a rookie, to 10:56 last year and 12:54 this season.

MacLellan says he thinks the Caps’ decision to promote Wilson to the NHL instead of letting him play one more season with the WHL Plymouth Whalers was a mistake.

RELATED: 2015-16 SEASON IN REVIEW: TAYLOR CHORNEY

“I’m optimistic with him,” MacLellan told NHL Network Radio. “I think, in hindsight, we probably started him in the NHL a year early.

“I think sometimes guys are physically mature and they can handle the physical part of it, but you know, big guys would be well-served playing a power play or playing a top-six role in a lower level versus a fourth-line role at the NHL level.

“I think maybe that first year didn’t do him any good. This year, I thought he made a lot of progress. He’s turned himself into a really good penalty killer. We played him in a third-line role most of the year, and he did a real good job killing penalties

“It would be nice to get him a little more offensive, you know maybe get on the second power play. But I think he’s coming. I think it’s just harder for him to get touches with the puck when you’re playing in a bottom-six role, and we anticipate putting him in more of an offensive role going forward.”

MacLellan told 106.7 The Fan that Orlov could find himself in the top four defensive rotation next season, with veteran Brooks Orpik possibly taking a reduced role as a third-pair defender with Nate Schmidt.

That could mean Orlov is paired with Matt Niskanen next season, with John Carlson and Karl Alzner being reunited.

“There’s an offensive upside to Orlov and there’s ability for him to move up in our lineup, and we’ve got to be careful that we don’t limit him in his ability to move there,” MacLellan said.

Orlov recorded a career-high eight goals and 21 assists in 82 regular season games while averaging 16:01 of ice time. That ice time decreased to 13:18 in 11 playoff games, where Orlov posted one assist and was pulled out of Game 2 against the Penguins.

“I would count on him developing and getting to that next level,” MacLellan said. “The idea would be, Brooks Orpik plays a little less minutes and Orlov plays a little bit more, maybe he moves into the top four for part of the time. That would be ideal situation, but we’ll have to see how he comes into camp.”

MORE CAPITALS: WILSON COULD LEARN A FEW THINGS WATCHING WARD, BROUWER

2015-16 Season in Review: Taylor Chorney

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2015-16 Season in Review: Taylor Chorney

With the Capitals’ 2015-16 season now in the rearview mirror, we continue with our player-by-player analysis through their numerical roster.

No. 4 Taylor Chorney

Age: 29 (turns 30 on April 27, 2017)

Games: 55

Goals: 1

Assists: 5

Points: 6

Plus-minus: Plus-8

Penalty minutes: 21

Time on ice: 13:11

Playoff stats: 7 games, 0 goals, 1 assist, minus-1, 4 PIM, 12:34

Contract status: 2 years remaining on 2-year, $1.6 million contract extension ($800,000 cap hit)

RELATED: WILSON COULD LEARN A FEW THINGS WATCHING WARD, BROUWER

When the Capitals signed Taylor Chorney to a one-year, one-way contract last July 1, the general reaction from the Caps’ fan base was: Who?

A career minor leaguer with 400 games of AHL experience but just 68 games at the NHL level, the Caps viewed Chorney as a solid seventh defenseman with enough NHL experience (including five playoff games for the Penguins last year) to fill in as an injury replacement.

That’s exactly how he was used. With Brooks Orpik (41 games) and John Carlson (26) missing 67 games due to injury, Chorney served as a reliable seventh defenseman who played all six of the games Orpik missed in the playoffs (3 because of injury, 3 because of suspension).

“I think I did pretty well,” Chorney said in his post-season exit interview with reporters at Kettler. “Heading into the year you don't really know on a new team exactly where your place is going to be, it's just different.

“But I think as the year went on I did a pretty good job earning more and more trust from the coaching staff and from my teammates and I think by the end of the year I felt like I was playing some pretty good hockey. It's just too bad that it all got cut a little short.”

Chorney began and ended the regular season primarily as a healthy scratch. He played in just five of the Caps’ first 14 games and in eight of their final 22 games. In between, he played in 44 straight games from Nov. 12 through Feb. 13 and the Caps went 30-10-4 in that stretch.

Shortly after, on Feb. 19, Chorney signed a two-year contract extension that will pay him $775,000 next season and $825,000 in 2017-18. This is the first time in his pro career that Chorney enters into an offseason with the security of a two-year NHL level contract.

“It's nice,” he said. “Going into the year, you don't really know what to expect. You're just hoping to get an opportunity to show you can play and I think I did a pretty good job of doing that and it was definitely nice getting an extension in the middle of the year.

“It just kind of puts your mind at ease to know that most likely you're going to be here and you're going to be a part of it. At the same time, I think that knowing that you're probably going to be back next year it makes the loss that much tougher. I think you feel more invested with this group of guys and the expectation was so high for us and I think that it's going to carry over for us next year and we'll be ready to rock.”

As well as the Caps played with Chorney in the lineup during the regular season, they were 1-6 in the games he played in the post-season.

In their season-ending 4-3 overtime loss to the Penguins in Game 6, Chorney logged a playoff-high 16:10 of ice time and was on the ice for Nick Bonino’s game-winning goal. Chorney was beaten off the boards by Carl Hagelin and despite a stick check by Chorney, Hagelin got off the shot that Bonino shoveled past Braden Holtby to end the Caps’ season.  

“There's some things that you could do differently,” Chorney said of the game-winner. “It's tough. It's a bang-bang play right at the net and that's usually how those overtime goals happen and just whether you're a half step late on the coverage or just get your stick in there to maybe break it up, that's definitely one of those things that, I'd be lying if I said I hadn't been thinking about it for a couple days. I'm sure that it'll be with me for a little while, but I guess I don't really regret anything about the way I played. It's just one of those plays where you'd probably do something a little bit different. …The big picture, there's probably a lot more going on than just that one play, but at the same time there's some things that you'd probably do a little bit different.”

Heading into next season, Chorney is one of six Capitals defensemen under contract and with Dmitry Orlov expected to be re-signed, his role likely won’t change much. Neither, he said, will the expectations of a team that ran away with the Presidents’ Trophy this season.

“We had high expectations for our team all year,” he said. “Just the way we played throughout the season, we knew that we had a chance to do something special and we fell short this year and I think that that's probably going to be with us for a while now. Hopefully, it'll fuel us for next season.”

MORE CAPITALS: SEASON IN REVIEW: MATT NISKANEN