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A trio of Capitals suffer injuries; a Saturday recall is possible

A trio of Capitals suffer injuries; a Saturday recall is possible

Through the first 16 games this season, the Capitals had pretty much avoided injuries. Some bumps and bruises here and there, to be sure, but nothing serious enough to force a player out of the lineup.

It caught up to them on Friday.

Lars Eller, T.J. Oshie and Andre Burakovsky each left the Capitals’ eventual 1-0 win over the Red Wings in the first period, leaving the home team with just three forward lines for the balance of the contest.

Coach Barry Trotz said all three players were suffering from upper body ailments and would be reevaluated Saturday morning. Trotz also hinted at the possibility of recalling a player from minor league Hershey—just in case.

“Nope, I can’t,” Trotz cracked, asked if he could provide an update on the injured players. “They are going to be evaluated. We’ll have a better idea tomorrow.”

RELATED: Battered and bruised Caps manage late win over Red Wings

Eller was the first to go down. It’s unclear how he got hurt, but he did get hit hard by Tyler Bertuzzi along the boards on his first shift. Eller played only 45 seconds.  

A few minutes later, Oshie laid into Riley Sheahan in open ice but ended up taking the brunt of the blow. Oshie, arguably the Capitals' best player to this point in the season, went to the bench briefly before retiring to the dressing room.

Burakovsky, meantime, left the game after being spotted on the bench in obvious discomfort. A review of his final shift did not reveal anything obvious.  

Trotz wouldn't commit to recalling a player from the Bears, but it sure sounded likely. There are several deserving candidates in Hershey, but, as always, the Caps also must weigh several factors, such as the type of player that needs to be replaced. Is it a winger? A center? Top six, etc. And that might not be known until the injured players are reexamined.

“I’m probably going to bring one guy in—just in case,” Trotz said. “But we won’t make that decision until tomorrow. That’s sorta the idea. There’s some unknown and we have a noon game [vs. Columbus on Sunday]. …We’ll probably be safe, and that person will probably be in and out for the day.”

Trotz said he was surprised that his team had managed to avoid injuries for more than a month, particularly since the Capitals sent nine players to the World Cup of Hockey prior to the season.

“We were getting past that stage in the season where we hitting that first 20 games,” he said. “Then you have a lot of World Cuppers, they are already getting into the 30s here because guys played eight, nine games at the World Cup. Those were like playoff games, so there’s a lot of wear and tear on your top players in this league.”

Trotz also acknowledged discussing his team’s good fortune earlier in the day—a no-no in the superstitious world of pro hockey.

“It was funny, I got a flu shot today with one of our doctors and I said, ‘Knock on wood, we haven’t had any injuries,’” Trotz said. “We were talking about that and how fortunate that was. And I should have just kept my mouth shut.”


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Antti Raanta closes the door on the Caps and their win streak

Antti Raanta closes the door on the Caps and their win streak

WASHINGTON -- Antti Raanta's heroics were the difference as the Capitals saw their six-game win streak snapped on Monday in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Arizona Coyotes. Raanta made a number of incredible saves in the first period so as not to allow the Caps to take control. Evgeny Kuznetsov helped the team battle back from a 3-0 deficit to force overtime, but they could not complete the comeback and ultimately fell in the shootout.

The loss snaps a six-game win streak for Washington. The point streak lives on, however, and was extended to 12 games. Here is how they lost.

Antti Raanta

This game could have gotten ugly early. The Caps’ offense was flying to start and generated a number of really nice plays, but Raanta was there each time with the great save.

Just over two minutes into the game, Evgeny Kuznetsov fed Jakub Vrana beautifully on the backdoor and it looked like he had nothing but net to shoot on. Raanta stretched out in the splits to get over in time to stop just enough of the puck to keep it out of the net. It squeaked by him, but Jakub Chychrun was there to take it off the goal line. Just a few minutes later, Raanta denied Tom Wilson on a 2-on-1 with the right pad. He denied Vrana again with a great glove save to push the puck wide.

In all, Raanta made 12 saves and Arizona walked away with a 1-0 lead in what was a dominant first period for the Caps. He finished the game with 31 saves on 34 shots and denied both shootout attempts he faced.

A definitive review

Just 10 seconds into the second period, Brad Richardson threw a puck to the front of the net that deflected off the skate of Christian Fischer and into the glove of Ilya Samsonov. It looked like nothing more than a decent save, but the play was reviewed to see if Samsonov's glove was over the goal line. From the initial views, it looked like there was no way to definitively tell if the puck was over the line or not. From an overhead view, however, the camera showed the puck through the webbing of Samsonov's glove and you could see the puck was in fact over the line. So instead of a faceoff off a Samsonov save, Arizona was awarded their second goal of the game.

Grabner's breakaway

Arizona pestered the Caps all night long and made sure that nothing Washington wanted to do came easy. 

In the second period as the Caps tried to break the puck up through the neutral zone, T.J. Oshie's pass was intercepted by Michael Grabner and he was off to the races. Grabner has the type of speed that if he has a breakaway, you are not going to catch him. He skated in on Samsonov and wristed the shot through the 5-hole of Samsonov to make it 3-0. It came just 35 seconds after Fischer's goal.

Eller draws Oshie offside

Oshie scored a phenomenal overtime goal to give the Caps the win, completing the 3-0 comeback and everyone lived happily ever after...but then the referees reviewed the goal.

As Oshie and Lars Eller broke into the offensive zone, Eller stumbled with the puck. That drew Oshie off who continued into the zone. The review showed that Oshie had indeed entered the zone before the puck and the goal was taken off the board.

Kuznetsov hits the post in the shootout

Kuznetsov would not be denied all night long. He was the best player on the ice for either team on Monday and scored twice to help the Caps rebound from a 3-0 deficit and force overtime. In the shootout, he took Washington's second shot. He showed some slick moves and had Raanta beat, but he struck the post. Seeing the Caps' best player come up empty-handed on the shootout was a poetic way for them to lose. Conor Garland came up next and scored on his attempt against Samsonov, thus ending the game.


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Commentator Don Cherry fired after 'divisive remarks'

Commentator Don Cherry fired after 'divisive remarks'

Don Cherry has been fired from Sportsnet after making controversial comments about immigrants on-air Saturday evening.

Cherry, 85, criticized the decreasing amount of Canadians wearing poppies to honor fallen Canadian soldiers on Remembrance Day, singling out Toronto immigrants. 

“You people . . . you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey, at least you can pay a couple bucks for a poppy or something like that,” Cherry said on his show, Coach's Corner. “These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada, these guys paid the biggest price.”

Sportsnet, the Canadian sports network, released a statement Monday announcing that Cherry would be stepping down.

Ron MacLean, Cherry's co-host, apologized Sunday on his own show, Hometown Hockey, for Cherry's comments.

“Don Cherry made remarks which were hurtful, discriminatory — which were flat out wrong," MacLean said.

Cherry, the host of Coach's Corner since 1982, has been a prominent hockey personality for decades.

He drew the ire of Caps fans last year when he called Caps center Evgeny Kuznetsov a "jerk" for his bird-walk celebration.