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Caps get swept in California, lose fourth straight

Caps get swept in California, lose fourth straight

Final score: Washington Capitals 2, Anaheim Ducks 5

How it happened: After battling to a scoreless first period, the Ducks erupted for three straight goals in the second period to take control of the game. John Carlson added a tally to keep the Caps in it, but Anaheim finished them off with two more goals in the third.

What it means: The Caps have now lost four straight for the first time since Jan. 2015 and have lost four straight games in regulation for the first time since Oct.-Nov. 2014. The Pittsburgh Penguins can move ahead of Washington in the standings for first in the Metropolitan Division and for the top spot in the NHL with a win on Monday.

Goals

Ducks goal: Corey Perry, unassisted at 4:52 in the second period. Lars Eller got a bit too cute in the defensive zone and tried a soft pass from the corner that went right to Perry. Perry took it straight to the net and deked Braden Holtby for the goal. Caps 0, Ducks 1

Ducks goal: Corey Perry from Ryan Kesler and Ryan Getzlaf at 9:21 in the second period. Just moments after Holtby had to stop a 2-on-0 opportunity, the Ducks came in on the rush again and Kesler fired a wrister that Perry tipped in for his second goal of the game. Caps 0, Ducks 2

Ducks goal: Rickard Rakell from Ryan Getzlaf at 9:49 in the second period. Rakell fired a shot right off the face off that caught Holtby by surprise. Caps 0, Ducks 3

Caps goal: John Carlson (power play) from Nicklas Backstrom and Justin Williams at 12:10 in the second period. From the corner of the offensive zone, Backstrom found Carlson on the far-side at the top of the zone. The Ducks had bunched up down in the corner after the puck leaving Carlson wide open to tee up the slap shot. Caps 1, Ducks 3

Ducks goal: Ryan Getzlaf (power play) from Ryan Kesler and Corey Perry at 4:27 in the third period. Just as the Caps killed off the first penalty of a two-man advantage, Perry found Getzlaf with the sweet pass giving him a yawning net. Holtby was not able to get over in time before Getzlaf could roof the shot. Caps 1, Ducks 4

Caps goal: Marcus Johansson, unassisted at 4:57 in the third period. Johansson sent the puck to the slot looking for Kuznetsov. Instead it bounced off of Jakob Silfverberg and trickled through Bernier. Caps 2, Ducks 4

Ducks goal: Ryan Kesler from Andrew Cogliano and Jakob Silverberg at 12:42 in the third period. Silfverberg lifted the stick of Matt Niskanen to allow the puck to get buy him and into the Caps' zone. Cogliano then out-hustled everyone to the puck in the corner and backhanded a pass for Kesler that he tipped into the net. Caps 2, Ducks 5

3 stars

1. Corey Perry: Perry made short work of Eller's turnover to get Anaheim on the board, then tipped in a shot by Kesler for his second. It was just the second two-goal game for Perry this season who entered Sunday's game with 12 goals.

2. Ryan Getzlaf: Getzlaf is Anaheim's version of Nicklas Backstrom. He always seems to be involved on almost every goal. Getzlaf had a very quiet three-point night with one goal and two assists.

3. Ryan Kesler: It's Kesler's job to agitate and produce. He did his job on Sunday. Kesler got under the Caps' skin even drawing a penalty from Tom Wilson in the first period as Wilson dropped the gloves, but Kesler would not oblige. He also finished with three points on the night.

Look ahead: The Caps return home for two games with Bruce Boudreau's Minnesota Wild on Tuesday and Nashville on Thursday. They then go back on the road for a Saturday game in Tampa Bay.

Tell us what you think: The Caps have los four straight, but if the team needs to make any major changes their options are limited. The trade deadline has come and gone and there are now budding superstars waiting in Hershey who can turn the team around. What do you think Washington needs to do to shake things up and break the slump?

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Did Barry Trotz show us what his fourth line will be to start the season?

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Did Barry Trotz show us what his fourth line will be to start the season?

Barry Trotz likes to play his cards close to the vest. With roster battles and lineup holes surrounding the team, there are plenty of questions for the Caps that need answering this preseason. If you look at how Saturday's 4-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes ended, however, he may have given us at least one answer.

At the start of the game, Jay Beagle centered a line with Devante Smith-Pelly and Wayne Simpson on his wings. By the end of the game, Nathan Walker was playing on the left with Beagle at center and Smith-Pelly on the right.

"Walker was giving us some energy, he was giving us some speed and I just made that flip," Trotz told reporters after the game. "I just thought Walks was starting to make things happen. His speed was noticeable, his will on the puck if you will was really good. I thought that'd be a good fit. I just moved him over there and I thought he had an effect on the game."

Could that have been a preview of the team's fourth line?

RELATED: CHIASSON, WALKER MAKE THEIR CASE TO MAKE THE TEAM

Walker turned in another tremendous performance showing great energy, speed and grit. Despite being 5-foot-8, he still remains a feisty player who could be found at the center of every scrum. He exchanged hits and jabs with the 6-foot-3 Klas Dahlbeck multiple times throughout the game and even drew a penalty on the Carolina defenseman as he drove the net after managing to slip away from a hit along the boards.

"He's one of those hard guys to play against because ... they're on you all the time," Trotz said. "When you can affect the opposition and take them out of their game because the way you play, then you're pretty effective."

That brings us back to the lines. The Caps have not one, but two openings on the fourth line to play alongside Beagle. The fact that Trotz put Walker and Smith-Pelly on that line, two players fighting for a spot in the lineup, could be a preview of what the fourth line may ultimately look like to start the season.

That would be just fine with Beagle.

"It's fun to play with a guy who brings that much energy," Beagle said of Walker. "He's always had that energy and he's always been a little guy who grinds it out and isn't afraid to get in there and get in the corners and wins a lot of battles. He's awesome to play with. He's a lot of fun."

At this point, given how he has played in his two preseason games, it is hard to see how Walker does not make the roster. His energy and style are a perfect fit for what the Caps need on their fourth line. He would be an excellent compliment to Beagle and that has not escaped Trotz's notice.

"I think they might enjoy playing together, but they're effective together," Trotz said. "They get on the puck, they work you over and they tire you out. I'll tell you that."

With other players such as Alex Chiasson, Riley Barber and Anthony Peluso still vying to make the team, it is still too early to tell if this is definitively what the fourth line will look like, but the trio certainly made their case.

MORE CAPITALS: TOM WILSON SUSPENDED 2 PRESEASON GAMES

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Thumbs up, thumbs down: Chiasson, Walker make their case for the roster

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Thumbs up, thumbs down: Chiasson, Walker make their case for the roster

The Caps dropped another preseason game on home ice as they fell to the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1. Here is who stood out for Washington.

Thumbs up

Alex Chiasson: Chiasson, who is playing this preseason on a PTO, was in good shape before this game, but he may sealed the deal on getting a contract with his first period goal. While it did come on the power play and he is not likely to see much time with the extra man this season, the fact that he was playing on a line with Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov in the first place should tell you something. With another solid performance on Saturday, it looks like Chiasson will be in Washington for the long haul.

Nathan Walker: This kid is not afraid of anything. Not only will he fight for the puck in all the dirty areas, he is not afraid to mix things up with anyone. In the second period, he caught got in a scrum exchanging jabs with defenseman Klas Dahlbeck. Dahlbeck is 6-foot-3. Walker is 5-foot-8. Later in the period, Dahlbeck rid him into the boards, but Walker would not give up on the play and eventually broke free, drawing a penalty from Dahlbeck as he fought for room in front of the net. He looked like everything a team would want in a fourth line, energy player and I cannot see at this point how he does not make the Caps roster.

Jakub Vrana: Good speed, good eyes and he added an assist on Chiasson's goal. Vrana has clearly established himself as the best player not already on the Caps' roster. Whatever questions there may be surrounding Vrana, there should be none about his talent on the ice. He's got it.

Thumbs down

Riley Barber: Like Chiasson and Walker, Barber was also competing for a spot on the roster, only no one seemingly told him that because he was invisible. Actually, scratch that, he did get called for a slash early in the first period. Let's not overstate it, it was not as if Barber was horrible, but when his teammates were making their case to make the team, Barber was nowhere to be found. With another round of cuts looming, it would not be surprising to see him headed to Hershey very soon.