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Capitals' home streak halted at 15 games after comeback falls short against Stars

Capitals' home streak halted at 15 games after comeback falls short against Stars

Final score: Washington Capitals 2, Dallas Stars 4

How it happened: A controversial goal by Devin Shore was upheld after a coach's challenge, putting Dallas on the board less than two minutes into the game. The Stars added two goals in the second period in a span of just 1:54 to extend the lead to 3-0. That ended Braden Holtby's night who was pulled for Philipp Grubauer. Nicklas Backstrom started the comeback with a goal at the end of the second period that swung momentum in the Caps' favor. T.J. Oshie added another goal in the third, but an empty netter ended the comeback.

What it means: For the first time in 2017, the Caps lost at home, snapping a streak of 15-straight wins at Verizon Center. Yet again, it came at the hands of the Stars who the Caps have not beaten in D.C. since Nov. 30, 2006.

Goals

Stars goal: Devin Shore from Stephen Johns and Patrick Sharp at 1:48 in the 1st period. A long-range shot forced what may be the save of the season from Holtby as he had to reach out the toe to block the deflection. As Sharp took the puck for a wraparound, however, Holtby could not get over to make the save because Shore was in the crease blocking his path. He was pushed in by Brooks Orpik, but did not appear to attempt to get out of the crease and eventually shot in the loose puck for the goal. It was reviewed for goalie interference, but the call stood. Good goal. Caps 0, Stars 1

Stars goal: Radek Faksa, unassisted at 4:04 in the 2nd period. Backstrom tried to clear a puck out of danger, but instead flicked right into Faksa who was quick to make Backstrom pay for the bad turnover. Caps 0, Stars 2

Stars goal: Jason Spezza from Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin at 5:58 in the 2nd period. A Stars’ dump-in around the boards eluded a waiting Dmitry Orlov and went right to Seguin. Seguin fed Benn who shot the puck wide, but collected it and fed it back to Spezza who beat Holtby with the slap shot. Caps 0, Stars 3

Caps goal: Nicklas Backstrom from Kevin Shattenkirk and Brooks Orpik. Shattenkirk found Backstrom in the slot with a beautiful pass and Backstrom redirected it into the net. Caps 1, Stars 3

Caps goal: T.J. Oshie from Nicklas Backstrom and Karl Alzner as 12:26 in the 3rd period. After a long stretch in the offensive zone, the Caps finally found paydirt as Oshie took a pass from Alzner, took it to the slot and fired a backhand past Lehtonen. Caps 2, Stars 3

Dallas goal: Patrick Sharp (empty netter), unassisted at 18:42 in the 3rd period. Caps 2, Stars 4

3 Stars

1. Kari Lehtonen: Dallas' goaltending situation may be the worst in the NHL. There are some nights, however, where Lehtonen can remind you why the Stars had so much faith in him. The Caps peppered Lehtonen with 44 shots on the night, 28 through the first two periods, but he turned aside 42 of them and is now 18-6-3 in his career against Washington.

2. Patrick Sharp: Sharp's heads up play in the first led to Dallas' opening goal. He also iced the game away with an empty netter in the third period.

3. Nicklas Backstrom: Backstrom had a horrific turnover in the second that led to Faksa's goal, but made up for it with a goal, an assist and seven shots on goal.

Look ahead: Time for the Caps to pack their bags. They will practice at Kettler on Tuesday and then head out west for the dreaded, three-game California road trip. Washington will be in San Jose on Thursday and then play Los Angeles and Anaheim in back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday.

Tell us what you think: The Capitals were burned by what looked like goalie interference on Shore’s goal in the first period, but after a review the call stood. Did the refs make the right call? Is it time to change the rules on goalie interference?

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Scouting the Stanley Cup Finals: Possible Caps' free agent targets from the Pittsburgh Penguins

Scouting the Stanley Cup Finals: Possible Caps' free agent targets from the Pittsburgh Penguins

The Stanley Cup Finals begin on Monday. Instead of gearing up for Game 1, however, the Washington Capitals are gearing up for the offseason. While fans in Washington will be watching in the hopes of seeing the Pittsburgh Penguins lose, Cap scouts will be watching to see if there is anyone they can add to their ranks next season to bolster the roster.

The Penguins are a team loaded with talent as evidenced by the fact that they are playing in the finals for the second straight year looking to be the first team to repeat as Cup champions since 1997-98. Like the Caps, they also have a handful of expiring contracts.

Is there anyone wearing the black and gold who could help the Caps next season? Josh Archibald, Brian Dumoulin, Conor Sheary, Justin Schultz and Oskar Sundqvist are all restricted free agents meaning most if not all will be off limits to Washington, but there are still plenty of unrestricted free agents they could perhaps target this summer.

Nick Bonino

Position: C
Age at the start of the 2017-18 season: 29
Last contract: 3 years for $5.7 million, $1.9 million cap hit
Season stats: 18 goals, 19 assists in 80 games

It was Pittsburgh’s HBK line (Carl Hagelin, Bonino, Phil Kessel) that really exposed Washington’s lack of bottom-six scoring depth. As Bonino was the guy centering that line and given the fact that scoring depth is still an issue for the Caps, you would think he would be an enticing piece for Washington to potentially add. If there is one position in which Washington appears set, however, it is center. Unless something unexpected happens with Evgeny Kuznetsov’s restricted free agency or someone is plucked in the expansion draft, the Caps will return Nicklas Backstrom, Kuznetsov, Lars Eller and Jay Beagle next season, all four of their centers from 2016-17. If they lose one, Bonino could be a potential target for a depth center, but otherwise he is not a great fit.

RELATED: Orlov in talks with KHL team, but it probably doesn't mean much

Matt Cullen

Position: C
Age at the start of the 2017-18 season: 40
Last contract: 1 year for $1 million, $1 million cap hit
Season stats: 13 goals, 18 assists in 72 games

Cullen has been an incredibly productive fourth line player for Pittsburgh given his age, but the Caps need to get younger and faster. I have a hard time believing Cullen will not hang up the skates after this season, but even if he doesn’t he is not someone Washington should pursue.

Trevor Daley

Position: D
Age at the start of the 2017-18 season: 33
Last contract: 6 years for $19.8 million, $3.3 million cap hit
Season stats: 5 goals, 14 assists in 56 games

The Capitals have four defensemen they will need to protect in the expansion draft in John Carlson, Matt Niskanen, Dmitry Orlov and Nate Schmidt, but if they take the option to protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie – which they are expected to do given their offensive depth – they risk losing a significant blue liner and someone the team had penciled in for a top-four role next season. Bringing in a player like Daley in free agency could soften the blow. Daley has proven to be a key piece of the championship puzzle for the Penguins, but let’s not forget how much he struggled in Chicago ultimately prompting the trade to Pittsburgh. He is someone who needs the right fit to be productive. Given the success he has had in Pittsburgh, I have to imagine he will try to remain a Penguin. If he does become available, the question becomes how much will he cost? Washington may be in need of a top four defensemen, but they may not have much money to spend and, at 33 years old, it is fair to wonder just how long Daley can continue playing well enough to justify that big of a role. Age, price and fit are too many question marks for my taste.

Ron Hainsey

Position: D
Age at the start of the 2017-18 season: 36
Last contract: 3 years for $8.5 million, $2.83 million cap hit
Season stats:4 goals, 13 assists in 72 games

In addition to Washington’s top two defensive pairs, the third pairing is also a question mark for next season. Are Madison Bowey or Christian Djoos ready to step into a full-time role? Will the Caps consider buying out the remainder of Brooks Orpik’s contract? Depending on the answers to these questions, Washington will need to find one, maybe two defensemen for their third pair. If the Caps want to plug a prospect onto the bottom pair, they would do well to pair him with a veteran presence to help show him the ropes and make up for inevitable rookie mistakes. Could Hainsey be that guy? The only way this move would make sense is if the team bought out Orpik and signed Hainsey as a cheaper alternative. The more likely scenario is that they keep Orpik and use him in that third-pair mentor role.

Chris Kunitz

Position: LW
Age at the start of the 2017-18 season: 38
Last contract: 3 years for $11.55 million, $3.85 million cap hit
Season stats: 9 goals, 20 assists in 71 games

Kunitz was the hero of the Eastern Conference Final as he scored twice in Game 7 including the overtime winner. Do you know the last time Kunitz scored before Thursday’s game? February. Sure, you could argue he has veteran leadership, but so does Justin Williams. Kunitz is older than Williams, far less productive and even had a bigger cap hit this season. If you like what Kunitz could potentially bring to Washington, then re-sign Williams.

Chad Ruhwedel

Position: D
Age at the start of the 2017-18 season: 27
Last contract: 1 year for $575,000, $575,000 cap hit
Season stats: 2 goals, 8 assists in 34 games

With Taylor Chorney still under contract for next season, the Caps have no need for another No. 7.

Mark Streit

Position: D
Age at the start of the 2017-18 season: 39
Last contract: 4 years for $21 million, $5.25 million cap hit
Season stats: 6 goals, 21 assists in 68 games

If the Caps are in need of a veteran defenseman to anchor their third pairing, Hainsey would be the better option from Pittsburgh over the 39-year-old Streit.

MORE CAPITALS: 20 questions: Should the Caps re-sign Williams?

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Dmitry Orlov in talks with KHL team, why it doesn't mean anything

Dmitry Orlov in talks with KHL team, why it doesn't mean anything

Dmitry Orlov was given a prove it contract heading into the 2016-17 season and he did just that, providing the best season of his NHL career. It looks like the Capitals were not the only ones to take notice.

Orlov is in talks with KHL team CSKA, as Igor Eronko reports and the president of CSKA announced Friday. The Russian defenseman played in the KHL for Metallurg Novokuznetsk from 2008 to 2011 before heading to North America. His rights were traded to CSKA in 2013.

So what does this mean for the Caps? Absolutely nothing.

RELATED: 20 questions: Should the Caps re-sign Williams?

These types of talks happen frequently between players and the KHL in the offseason and rarely does anything come of it.

The NHL and KHL have an agreement saying the leagues must honor each other’s contracts. As a restricted free agent, the Caps still own Orlov’s rights in the NHL, but that does not mean anything to CSKA. That makes this the perfect time for the team to try to convince Orlov to jump ship and return to Russia.

As far as the player is concerned, talking with the KHL is a bargaining chip to use when it comes time to negotiate a new contract in the NHL. Orlov does not have many cards to play as an RFA. Talking to CSKA is about the only leverage he has short of signing an offer sheet – which is considered taboo – and demanding a trade.

What also doesn’t help is the fact that the KHL is dealing with serious financial issues.

Remember Orlov’s first KHL team, Metallurg Novokuznetsk? Well, it is not in the KHL anymore. It was one of two teams removed from the league this offseason and KHL president Dmitry Chernyshenko has announced the league will remove another three teams after next season. He also revealed the league is dealing with over $17 million worth of wage delays to its players, some of whom have not been paid in over six months.

Orlov is poised to play on a top pair on a team in the best hockey league in the world. It seems unlikely he would abandon that opportunity after climbing the ranks from Hershey to the top of the Caps’ depth chart to go back home to a league dealing with financial delays and an uncertain future.

But if everyone knows these talks are for show, then why bother?

Two reasons. First, Orlov’s past two contracts were for two years and one year respectively. Negotiating his last deal dragged on throughout the summer until right before training camp was set to start. He will likely be looking for something a bit more long-term this go around. The second issue is the Olympics.

The NHL has announced that it will not be participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, something the players, especially the European ones, have taken issue with. Barring a reversal by the NHL, leaving for the KHL is about the only avenue Orlov would have to represent his native Russia.

But would that be enough to entice him to ignore the glaring problems with the KHL? That seems pretty doubtful.

MORE CAPITALS: 7 reasons why Caps fans should root for Preds