Washington Capitals v New York Islanders

Caps grab shootout win vs. Isles, break five-game skid


The Washington Capitals grabbed a much-needed win on Saturday, beating the New York Islanders 4-3 via a shootout.

This victory gives the Capitals 83 standings points with four games remaining on their schedule, ending a five-game losing streak in the process.

It’s not all positive numbers for a Capitals team that might benefit from so much attention being heaped on Alex Ovechkin’s plus/minus rating, which rests at -35 after an even rating on Saturday.

For one thing, the playoff-desperate Capitals saw the Islanders carry shot advantages in every period until overtime. The Isles ultimately out-shot the Capitals 38-29 on Saturday, but Braden Holtby managed to keep the Caps in the game and grab a big win.

It’s also interesting to see how often Washington has entered the “skills competition” this season. The Caps are now 10-10 in shootouts in 2013-14; as of this writing, the San Jose Sharks are the only team who’ve entered a comparable amount of shootouts with 17 (10-7).

Washington was on the right end of it today, anyway, as Evgeny Kuznetsov scored the shootout-winner:

The Capitals travel to St. Louis on Tuesday and Carolina on Thursday before finishing their schedule with home games against Chicago (April 11) and Tampa Bay (April 13).

Bettman to players: Don’t screw up ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ with drugs

Gary Bettman
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The NHL wants to take an educational approach — not a punitive one — to deter its players from using illicit drugs like cocaine.

“My interest is not to go around punishing people,” Bettman told Sportsnet today.

“My interest is getting players to understand the consequences of doing something that could jeopardize this great, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that they’ve been given, to play in the NHL.”

While some players have expressed surprise at hearing that cocaine use is growing, the anecdotal evidence of substance abuse has been very much in the news, from Jarret Stoll‘s arrest to Mike Richards’ arrest to, more recently, Zack Kassian‘s placement in the NHL/NHLPA’s treatment program.

“We don’t have the unilateral right to do things here. We need the consent of the Players’ Association,” Bettman said. “It’s not about punishment. It’s about making sure we get it to stop.”

Related: Cocaine in the NHL: A concern, but not a crisis?

Goalie nods: Jones makes Sharks debut against ex-Kings mates

Martin Jones
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News and notes from around the crease…

Jones goes for San Jose

Martin Jones, acquired by the Sharks this summer, will make his first regular-season start for the club tonight against his old team — the Los Angeles Kings.

Jones, 25, spent the last two years in L.A. as Jonathan Quick‘s understudy. He was flipped to Boston at the NHL Entry Draft, then shipped to San Jose. Sharks GM Doug Wilson wasted little time locking Jones in — signing him to a three-year, $9 million extension — and Jones wasted little time locking up the No. 1 gig, putting together a stellar preseason.

For the Kings, Quick will get the start in goal.

Markstrom out for Vancouver

Jacob Markstrom wasn’t scheduled to start for the Canucks tonight — No. 1 Ryan Miller is getting the call — but the Swedish ‘tender won’t even dress when his club takes on the Flames in Calgary.

Markstrom suffered a lower-body injury at practice this week and is being held out of tonight’s action. In his place, the Canucks called up AHL netminder Richard Bachman, who’ll serve as Miller’s backup.

For the Flames, Karri Ramo is the opening-night starter.


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