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Capitals Takeaways

Takeaways: Ovechkin, Capitals Escape With Point, Stumble In Loss to Senators

The Washington Capitals got offense from their stars and a strong game from Darcy Kuemper, but defensive mistakes proved costly. Takeaways from D.C.



WASHINGTON — The Washington Capitals came into Thursday's game red-hot, but their tilt with the Ottawa Senators didn't exactly go according to plan. Still, the team was able to escape with a point.

Washington got offense from its stars and Darcy Kuemper was able to hold off the Senators to allow for overtime, but a wipeout and turnover from Evgeny Kuznetsov led to a 4-3 OT loss.

Here are all the takeaways from the defeat.

Washington Capitals Defense Takes Step Back, Wipeout Leads To Loss

After a hot stretch of shutting things down and providing solid coverage, the Capitals' defense did not have its best showing.

While the penalty kill was able to shut down the top-ranking power play, there were holes in the coverage, turnovers and misplays that proved costly. Ottawa outshot Washington 45-23, and those giveaways and bad reads led to costly goals against, including the game-tying goal with just about five minutes left in regulation. The team also allowed Ottawa to swarm the net and get several high-danger chances.

The game doesn't fall on Darcy Kuemper, though. He put on a clinic (41 saves, .911 save percentage) and came up with quite a few 10-bell saves. The two goals against weren't on him, as the first made it through traffic and the second shouldn't have happened, as he was tripped up beforehand by Claude Giroux. However, there was no call, and he had time to reset and then had to face a breakaway following a Trevor van Riemsdyk turnover. The tying goal also came on a 3-on-2 after a bad turnover in the offensive zone.

Then, a miscommunication and wipeout for Kuznetsov led to a 2-on-0 and the OT winner for Alex DeBrincat.

Alex Ovechkin, Dylan Strome & Top Line Come Up Big For Washington Capitals

Amid several injuries, the Capitals have stepped up big time when it's come to 5-on-5 scoring, and the top line stepped up big time against Ottawa after a somewhat quiet game against the New York Rangers on Tuesday.

The trio of Ovechkin-Strome-Sheary was buzzing and all over the ice, and generated some great chances while getting things going following a slow start at home.

After the team managed just six shots in the opening frame, Washington got the offense going in the second. Erik Gustafsson, who has had to step up with John Carlson out long-term following a puck to the face, made a brilliant pass up ice to find Alex Ovechkin for a semi-breakaway. The captain made no mistake, sniping the puck past Cam Talbot to make it 1-0 with his 803rd career goal.

Ovechkin now has 10 goals and nine assists for 19 points in 14 games through the month of December. He is up to 23 goals on the season. The 37-year-old also led the team with six shots.

Shortly after Ovechkin's goal, the first line got to work again, putting on the pressure in the offensive zone. Hard work from Conor Sheary led to a turnover, and he got the puck quickly over to Dylan Strome, who fired a quick shot past Talbot to make it 2-0.

The goal was Strome's seventh of the season and extended his point streak to three games. Sheary also is now on a three-game point streak, and he has 13 points in 14 games through December. 

Erik Gustafsson, Evgeny Kuznetsov Stay Hot

Kuznetsov also played a strong game and stepped up to add to the Capitals' lead, as he forced a turnover and went on a 2-on-1 break with Ovechkin and elected to hold on and shoot. It marked his sixth goal of the season, and he now has points in four straight games. That goal was also just his second goal scored at even strength this season.

While the star forwards stepped up, the blue line saw Gustafsson stay red hot, as the Swede extended his point streak to six games with the helper on Ovechkin's strike. He has 10 points over that span.

Additional Washington Capitals Ice Chips

– Hathaway has two assists in his last three games.

– Sonny Milano did not play the final 10:24 minutes of the second period but played more in the third.

– Hathaway led with six hits. Lars Eller, who was wearing the "A" again, had five.

– Nick Jensen picked up an assist and now has 14 on the season, which ranks second among defensemen (Gustafsson ranks first with 16).