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Special teams look anything but for Caps in loss to Sharks

Special teams look anything but for Caps in loss to Sharks

Final Score: Washington Capitals 2, San Jose Sharks 4

How it happened: The Caps and Sharks traded goals into the second period, but with the score tied at two, Logan Couture took over. Couture scored twice, both on the power play, to separate the Sharks and give them the 4-2 win. You don't have to look too hard to figure out what the difference was in this one. Washington failed to score on five power play opportunities while San Jose scored three times with the extra man.

What it means: Thursday’s loss marks the first time the Caps have lost consecutive games since returning from the bye week. It is also just the third time Washington has lost consecutive games in regulation all season. The Caps have not beaten the Sharks in regulation since 2009 and have not won in San Jose in regulation since 1993.


Caps goal: Daniel Winnik from Tom Wilson and Jay Beagle at 5:26 in the first period. Beagle and Wilson battled for the puck along the boards down low and Beagle found Daniel Winnik with the backhand pass away from the crowd. Winnik had an open lane and scored on the backhand shot. Caps 1, Sharks 0

Sharks goal: Joe Thornton from Jannik Hansen and Paul Martin at 8:43 in the first period. Ovechkin lost the puck on a sweep check as he tried to exit the defensive zone and Martin sent the puck behind the net. Hansen took it and found a streaking Thornton for the goal. Caps 1, Sharks 1

Sharks goal: Joe Pavelski (power play) from Brent Burns and Joe Thornton at 2:32 in the second period. Just as a double-minor penalty to Brooks Orpik was about to expire, Brent Burns fired a long-range shot that was redirected by Pavelski to beat Holtby. Caps 1, Sharks 2

Caps goal: Brett Connolly from Kevin Shattenkirk at 14:40 in the second period. Connolly and Shattenkirk went back and forth on the rush with Shattenkirk feeding Connolly right in front for the tip-in. Caps 2, Sharks 2

Sharks goal: Logan Couture (power play) from Patrick Marleau and Brent Burns at 18:04 in the second period. Holtby stopped a shot form Burns with the glove, but couldn't hang on to the shot allowing Couture the chance to fire in the rebound. Caps 2, Sharks 3

Sharks goal: Logan Couture (power play) from Joe Pavelski and Brent Burns at 8:05 in the third period. A shot from Burns was headed wide of the net, but Couture was there to redirect it into the back of the net. Caps 2, Sharks 4

3 stars

1. Logan Couture:  Couture entered Thursday's game leading San Jose in power play goals with eight. He added two more to that tally on Thursday, taking what was a tie game and putting the Sharks in complete control.

2. Joe Thornton: On a night in which the Sharks honored Thornton for earning his 1,000th assist, Thornton scored the Sharks' first goal of the game a little over three minutes after Winnik gave Washington the early lead. Thornton was very active on the forecheck and was a presence for the Sharks all night.

3. Kevin Shattenkirk: Shattenkirk was very active Thursday. Not only did he record an assist on Connolly's goal, he also hit the post on a shot of his own, laid out Hansen with a monster hip check and recorded a game-high five shots on goal.

Look ahead: The Caps continue the California trip on Saturday in Los Angeles. They then wrap things up on Sunday in Anaheim and return home for a Tuesday game against Bruce Boudreau’s Minnesota.

Tell us what you think: The Caps entered Thursday's game ranked 6th on the power play and 4th on the penalty kill. Yet, the Caps could not score on five opportunities with the extra man. Washington also yielded three power play goals to a struggling Sharks power play. Are you concerned with the Caps' special teams or was this just a blip on the radar?

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Braden Holtby falls short of claiming Vezina for second consecutive season

Braden Holtby falls short of claiming Vezina for second consecutive season

Capitals goalie Braden Holtby fell short of claiming his second consecutive Vezina Trophy as the league's top netminder on Wednesday as the award was given to Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky. Holtby was named one of three finalists along with Bobrovsky and Montreal goalie Carey Price.

Had Holtby claimed the award, he would be the only active goaltender to have won the Vezina twice and the first one to do so since Martin Brodeur accomplished the feat in 2006-07 and 2007-08. Only three goalies—Brodeur, Dominik Hasek, Patrick Roy—have claimed the Vezina in back-to-back years since the criteria for the award was changed in 1981.

After a slow start to the season, Holtby was tremendous and posted a higher save percentage, lower GAA and more shutouts than he did in his Vezina winning campaign. Bobrovsky, however, put together an equally impressive season and did so with a team in front of him not nearly as good as the one in Washington. The Blue Jackets were largely dependent on their netminder all season which may have been the deciding factor between two resumes that were very similar:


  • Holtby: 42-13-6, .925 save percentage, 2.07 GAA, 9 shutouts
  • Bobrovsky: 41-17-5, .931 save percentage, 2.06 GAA, 7 shutouts

The award is the second Vezina of Bobrovsky's career. He also won for the 2012-13 season.

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A sad Schmidtuation: Vegas swipes Nate Schmidt from Caps in expansion draft

A sad Schmidtuation: Vegas swipes Nate Schmidt from Caps in expansion draft

It is a sad day for the Capitals as the happiest player on the team is headed out west. Defenseman Nate Schmidt was selected by the Vegas Golden Knights as part of the NHL's expansion draft Wednesday, CSN's Jill Sorenson has confirmed.

Schmidt, 25, played in 60 games for the Caps this season. His playing time dropped off at the end of the regular season when the team acquired Kevin Shattenkirk at the trade deadline. After the move, Schmidt suddenly became the odd man out and saw time in the press box as a healthy scratch.

But an injury to Karl Alzner allowed for Schmidt to come back in and he certainly made the most of his opportunity, becoming one of the team's most dependable defensemen throughout the playoffs. He tallied three goals and 14 assists in the regular season and added on another goal and three assists in 11 postseason games.

Schmidt's selection by Vegas is not surprising. Prior to the draft, it was believed the Caps would lose either Schmidt or goalie Philipp Grubauer. Schmidt was signed as an undrafted free agent by then general manager George McPhee, who now runs the Golden Knights.


The loss of Schmidt is a tough one for the Caps. An up-and-coming defenseman, he was expected to take a top-four role on the team next season playing alongside John Carlson. Without him, the Caps do not seem to have a suitable replacement in the lineup. Veterans Brooks Orpik and Taylor Chorney are depth players while prospects Madison Bowey and Christian Djoos have a lot of potential, but no NHL experience. Expecting any of those four to be able to seamlessly step into the top-four is unrealistic.

Bringing in someone to fill that hole will also prove difficult, however, due to the team's cap situation. Schmidt was a restricted free agent and, while he was certainly due a raise, re-signing him would have undoubtedly cost less than signing a top-four free agent defenseman or trading for one.

Just how general manager Brian MacLellan intends to replace Schmidt now becomes one of the major storylines for the Caps this offseason.