After a dominant 5-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday, the Washington Capitals are off to a very different start — and it’s a disastrous one.
Washington is down 4-0 after the first period, and saw Darcy Kuemper pulled for the first time this season after surrendering four goals on nine shots (.566 save percentage). Charlie Lindgren is now in net for D.C.
Mikhail Sergachev opened the scoring just 1:23 minutes into the first period, as his point shot deflected off Dylan Strome’s pants and in to make it 1-0 for the Lightning. Then, at 8:19, Nikita Kucherov would find twine on the power play. The Capitals PK was picture-perfect on Friday. Just 2:53 later, Nick Perbix made it 3-0, and then, on a second power-play, Sergachev struck again on the PP to put Tampa up 4-0.
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While Kuemper was pulled, it wasn’t truly his fault; the Capitals haven’t played well in front of him to start, and there have been flukes too, with two of those goals going off Dylan Strome and Erik Gustafsson. Washington also didn’t get its first shot on net until there were 2:50 minutes remaining in the frame. In fact, ESPN’s Emily Kaplan reported on the broadcast that Kevin McCarthy put the blame on the play in front of him, and the reason for the pull was to ignite a spark.
Matt Irwin and Pat Maroon dropped the gloves at the buzzer, with Irwin looking to provide a spark. We’ll see if it carries over into the second.