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5 things learned from Oct. 3 preseason games

Capitals trying to find offense, Jimmy Vesey scores first goal for Rangers

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

The 15-day, 106-game NHL preseason schedule is in full swing, and each day will take a closer look at the players, teams and stories that are making headlines in the days leading up to the start of the regular season Oct. 12.

Here are five things we learned from the preseason games Monday:

Capital drought: The Washington Capitals, who led the Eastern Conference with 248 non-shootout goals last season on the way to winning the Presidents' Trophy, have scored six goals in four preseason games.

The Capitals were without captain Alex Ovechkin until a 2-1 shootout victory against the St. Louis Blues at Verizon Center. Ovechkin, who represented Team Russia at the World Cup of Hockey 2016, didn't have a point but had 10 shots on goal in 22:09.

The lack of scoring doesn't concern coach Barry Trotz.

"I've always said to everyone here if you have good order in your defensive game, then everything sort of piggybacks off of that," Trotz told the Capitals website. "Because when you're spending time in your own end and have multiple shifts in there, there is no offensive flow.

"Decisions at the blue line are really important for us; when we do that and we have puck possession, we have enough people that can make plays and shoot the puck. We have some pretty good talent there. 

"If we manage our game in all those other areas, then it's going to come around in those areas that we should be really good at."

Video: Carey, Burakovsky lead Caps to SO win

Vesey scores first goal: New York Rangers forward Jimmy Vesey exhibited a bit of toughness and a scorer's touch in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

Vesey, winner of the Hobey Baker Award as the best player in college hockey last season, scored his first NHL preseason goal and took two shots in 15:10 of ice time. Vesey had to leave the game 19:38 into the first period after taking a big hit from defenseman Radko Gudas in the Flyers zone.

Gudas was ejected after receiving a misconduct for boarding Vesey from behind.

"I thought I had a little more time than that," Vesey told the Rangers website. "Didn't expect that big of a hit and the next thing I knew, I was face first into the glass. I wasn't expecting it."

Vesey returned in the second and later scored off an assist from Derek Stepan for a power-play goal 10:51 into the third.

"Definitely nice to get the first one out of the way," Vesey said. "Wish it would have came in a comeback win, but it feels good to get that one. It was a great pass by [Stepan]. Just put it on net and the goalie was still recovering, so that was an easy one."

Video: NYR@PHI: Stepan connects with Vesey to tie the game

Schneider seeks improvement: New Jersey Devils goaltender Cory Schneider made 26 saves in his preseason debut, a 4-3 loss to the New York Islanders at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. 

"There were some parts of the game I liked and I felt comfortable with," Schneider told the Devils website. "(But) rebounds, just having pucks stick to me a little better, I know I can clean up. I wasn't too happy but, again, that's part of the process to work on this week and use the game time to clean that stuff up. But, overall, it was good to get the full game in and my agility felt good, so I don't see a reason why I can't be better the next time around."

Devils coach John Hynes said he plans to have Schneider play two periods against the Islanders at Prudential Center on Wednesday and a full game against the Florida Panthers at West Point, New York, on Saturday.

Connor connecting: Left wing Kyle Connor, the No. 17 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, scored his third goal of the preseason to give the Winnipeg Jets a 4-2 win against the Ottawa Senators at MTS Centre.

Connor led the Jets with six shots on goal in 17:53, and also played 5:32 on the power play.

"We've seen the speed and you saw that shot tonight," Jets coach Paul Maurice told the Jets website. "We're excited about this young man on those fronts. The other question is what all young players have to answer: How ready are they for the battles along the wall, (or) getting pucks out? It's almost like having a confidence not to make plays. When a guy hits that peak level of confidence, they won't force anything."

Jets captain Blake Wheeler likes what he sees in the 19-year-old.

"Pretty impressive so far," Wheeler said. "He's got that knack. He's able to find the seams. He's a great passer and he's a gifted goal scorer. … Not everyone's comfortable in those areas. That's just something you're born with. Clearly he's comfortable in those areas and he's just as good of a passer as he is a threat to shoot, so it makes him pretty dangerous."

Video: OTT@WPG: Connor goes top shelf on the power play

Ekman-Larsson returns to desert: Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson made a successful preseason debut when he scored a power-play goal to help the Arizona Coyotes to a 4-2 win against the Vancouver Canucks. 

Ekman-Larsson, who had NHL career-highs in assists (34) and points (55) for the Coyotes last season, played for Team Sweden at the World Cup of Hockey 2016. He led Arizona in average ice time (24:46) and led the League in average time on the power play (5:10).

Ekman-Larsson also had three shots on goal in 21:35 of ice time.

Video: ARI@VAN: Ekman-Larsson scores on two-man advantage

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