Capitals win three in a row; ‘Walls closing in’ on Lightning


Don’t look now, but the Washington Capitals are officially on a winning streak.

The Capitals captured their third straight victory, despite nearly blowing a three-goal third period lead and barely hanging on to defeat their Southeast Division rivals, the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 Thursday.

Alex Ovechkin, who had goals in his last three games prior to Thursday, was held off the score sheet and was a minus-two.

Jay Beagle scored his first of the season and what turned out to be the winner.

Still, Capitals head coach Adam Oates was critical of how his team worked to a three-goal lead just prior to the midway point of the third period and then nearly coughed it up after the Lightning scored twice to narrow Washington’s lead to just a goal.

“You obviously have to use it as a learning curve,” Oates told

“We obviously did a lot of good things to make it 4-1 and made a mistake to make it 4-2. We didn’t protect the puck as we should have on their end and we gave a guy a breakaway, which we shouldn’t have.”

Meanwhile, the Lightning have lost six in a row and have only one point courtesy a shootout loss in those six games.

“It’s devastating,” Marty St. Louis told the Tampa Bay Times. “It’s like there’s no air in the room right now. The walls are closing in.”

Habs claim Byron off waivers from Flames

Paul Byron
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Montreal added some forward depth on Tuesday, acquiring diminutive forward Paul Byron off waivers from Calgary.

Byron, 26, is a veteran of nearly 150 career NHL games, most coming with the Flames. Despite fairly solid production over the last two years — 40 points in 104 games — he was exposed to waivers on Monday, along with fellow forward Mason Raymond.

(Calgary does have a logjam of players at forward, hence parting ways with Byron and Raymond.)

Byron can play both wing and center but, at 5-foot-7, 153 pounds, is one of the most undersized skaters in the league. Thankfully for him, Montreal has an affinity for undersized forwards, with the likes of Brendan Gallagher (5-foot-9, 184 pounds) and David Desharnais (5-foot-7, 174 pounds) already on the active roster.

Byron could also fill Zack Kassian‘s roster spot. Kassian is currently suspended without pay while undergoing Stage 2 of the NHL’s Substance Abuse program.

Isles claim goalie Berube off waivers

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Jaroslav Halak
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The New York Islanders have claimed goalie Jean-Francois Berube off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings, the club announced today.

Berube won the Calder Cup last season with AHL Manchester, but the 24-year-old has yet to appear in an NHL game.

That the Isles claimed Berube could be evidence that Jaroslav Halak will not be ready to start the season after all.

If that’s the case, Berube would back up Thomas Greiss, with Stephon Williams expected to go to the AHL.

The Isles open their regular season Friday at home versus the Blackhawks, then play the next day in Chicago.