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With 7 shots and an assist, Andre Burakovsky picks up where he left off for Caps

With 7 shots and an assist, Andre Burakovsky picks up where he left off for Caps

Andre Burakovsky’s return from injury surely was a memorable one.

On Saturday night, the Capitals winger registered 11 shot attempts—including a season-high seven on goal—and an assist as Washington earned a pivotal 5-3 win in Tampa.

It would probably be a stretch to say Burakovsky’s absence was a big reason for the Caps’ recent malaise. But it wouldn’t be a stretch, at all, to say the 22-year-old injected a bit of much-needed hunger and hustle into the lineup at Amalie Arena.

“It’s been a long time since my legs has been this good,” Burakovsky said. “I think I was flying. I was creating chances. Everything felt good.”

Burakovsky’s burst, top gear and tenacity did indeed jump out.

RELATED: Caps clinch playoff berth for third straight season

The reason? He said it's because of the conditioning work he put in with strength coach Mark Nemish over the past month while on injured reserve with a broken hand.

“I’ve been working very hard with Nemo in the gym and on the ice,” Burakovsky said. “I’m in phenomenal shape right now. It felt really good to be back.”

In fact, Burakovsky said his skating is much further along than the other parts of his game...namely his shot accuracy. Three of his 11 attempts got blocked while another missed the net.

“I was creating a lot of chances but I was struggling a little bit with my shot,” he said. “But not because of my hand. I don’t know what it was. I haven’t been shooting on a real goalie for a while. I was creating a lot of chances but I couldn’t get any in the back of the net. Out of those shots, I need to get at least one. But a good team win today.”

Burakovsky added: “There was a bunch of times when I was shooting where the puck just hit his chest, just don’t want to do what I want. I’m always trying to pick a corner. I had so many good chances where I definitely should have scored.”

A couple of those prime scoring chances came late in the second period of a tied game. First, Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy turned Burakovsky away at the doorstep with a brilliant toe save. Then, a few minutes later, the Bolts netminder plucked a high, hard wrist shot out of the air from close range.

Burakovsky did, though, find his way onto the scoresheet in the third period when he fed the puck to the point, where Matt Niskanen hammered a shot on net. Justin Williams got his stick on the puck, redirecting it past Vasilevskiy to put the Caps ahead 3-2 and give Burakovsky his first point since Feb. 7—the game before he suffered the injury.

The big question coming into Saturday was whether Burakovsky would be able to pick up where he left off. After all, he was on a tear when he got hurt, having recorded six goals and 13 points in the 12 previous games.

The answer is a resounding, ‘Yes.’

“I’m still a little bit rusty with my shooting,” Burakovsky conceded. “But it’s going to come back, and it’s going to come back pretty soon.”

MORE CAPITALS: Caps clinch playoff berth for third straight season

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: Previewing the prospects with Hershey Bears HC Troy Mann

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CSNMA

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: Previewing the prospects with Hershey Bears HC Troy Mann

We're officially in the dog days of summer.

But that doesn't mean there aren't Capitals topics to touch on.

The summer is the perfect time to take a look at the latest crop of Capitals stars and that begins in Hershey.

On the latest episode of the Capitals Faceoff Podcast, Jill Sorenson and Tarik El-Bashir are joined by Bears head coach Troy Mann, who has led the Bears to two division titles and trip to the Calder Cup Finals in his first three seasons at the helm.

With prospects like Jakub Vrana, Nathan Walker and Madison Bowey getting some much needed experience in Hershey, nobody knows the Capitals top prospects better than Mann.

PROSPECT PREVIEWS: Jakub Vrana | Nathan Walker

LAter in the podcast, Jill & Tarik touch on the offseason, and how they balance vacations with work life. 

The podcast wraps up with a very special shoutout to our Capitals digital producer JJ Regan and his wife, who welcomed their first child into the world last week.

Like what you hear? Be sure to subscribe on Apple podcastsAudioboom and Google Play and give us a good review!

For the latest Caps coverage be sure to follow @CSNCapitals@TarikCSN@JillCSN and @JJReganCSN on Twitter.

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Capitals 2017-18 Prospect Preview: Nathan Walker

Capitals 2017-18 Prospect Preview: Nathan Walker

As we skate toward the start of the 2017-18 NHL Regular Season, our CSN Capitals team of Jill Sorenson and Tarik El-Bashir detail and analyze the Capitals roster.

They will take a look at breakout candidates, prospects on the rise, players in need of improvement and a look at the rest of the Metropolitan Division, all leading up to the start of the NHL regular season.

It's time to take a look at which top prospects have the tools to become a full-time NHL player and what they have to do to get the call-up from Hershey.

Our first entry was Jakub Vrana.

Next up is Nathan Walker, who is on pace to become the first Australian to play in an NHL game.

PROSPECT PODCAST: Hershey Bears head coach Troy Mann

YOU CAN WATCH TARIK AND JILL'S FULL BREAKDOWN OF NATHAN WALKER IN THE VIDEO PLAYER ABOVE.

2017-18 CAPITALS PROSPECT PREVIEW: NATHAN WALKER

Position: Left Wing
Age: 23
Height: 5-8
Weight:186 pounds
Contract: Two-Way. Two-year, $1.3 Million (2017)
 

AHL Seasons: 4 (202 games)
2016-17 AHL Stats: 58 games, 11 goals, 12 assists
NHL Seasons: 0
2016-17 NHL Stats: None

PREVIEWING 2017-18 BREAKOUT CANDIDATES: Tom Wilson | Brett Connolly | Andre Burakovsky

Tarik El-Bashir's Prospect Preview:
After spending a few seasons in the minors, it looks like Nathan Walker’s time has finally arrived. 

Although nothing is set in stone, the 2014 third-round pick appears to be in good position to skate on the Caps’ fourth line in 2017-18, potentially in the spot previously occupied by Daniel Winnik.  

Walker is listed at 5 foot 8, 186-pounds, but he makes up for that lack of size by playing with a noticeable edge.

In fact, the Australian winger has on more than one occasion referred to himself as a bit of a “pest” on the ice. Indeed, Walker finishes his hits, stands up for his teammates and doesn’t back down. Last preseason, if you recall, he squared up with Andrew Shaw after Shaw plastered fellow prospect Connor Hobbs with a dangerous hit. That fight typified Walker’s game.  

Walker can put up stats, too. Two years ago in Hershey he amassed 17 goals and 24 assists in 73 games.

And it’s that mix of feistiness and offensive upside that makes him an intriguing player—and a solid candidate to lock down a spot on the opening night roster.

RELATED: TEN BEST CAPITALS PLAYERS OF ALL-TIME

Jill Sorenson's Prospect Analysis:
What He Has:
 "He plays with just a bit of an edge. I look at him and always think 'bulldog.' He's willing to make those sacrifices, go into the hard areas, and net-front pressence is something this team will absolutely need, especially with the loss of Marcus Johannson. He goes into the coach's office and asks about areas he can improve in. He gets it. It works well in that locker room."

What He Needs to Do: "He needs to pace himself. He's the type of guy who needs to be told when to turn the lights out at night."