Connect with us

Capitals Features

With Time Running Out, Capitals Fed Up With Slow Starts: ‘Done It Too Many Times’

The Washington Capitals are fed up with the slow starts and, after a 5-3 loss to the Minnesota Wild, understand that time is running out to catch up in the playoff race.



The Washington Capitals are more than aware of the situation they're in with just 11 games remaining on the regular-season circuit. Every point is critical as they make their final push for the playoffs, but the climb only got harder on Sunday with a 5-3 loss to the Minnesota Wild with the team falling into the same narrative of a bad start and too little, too late rally.

In five straight games, Washington has given up the first goal of the game within the first 5:18 minutes of play. After the first 20 minutes, the team will come out and make a reasonable push, but the comeback efforts — with the exception of Wednesday's 5-4 shootout win over the Buffalo Sabres — have come up short.

“It’s kind of like the situation right now. We don’t give up," captain Alex Ovechkin, who scored twice and had an assist while trying to spark his team against Minnesota, said. "We try battle back. Again, we try to do our best to win the hockey game, so we don’t stop playing, we battle.”

On Sunday, the first goal against came just 50 seconds in after no one picked up Marcus Johansson, whose rebound went to Matt Boldy. Charlie Lindgren was left to dry, and Minnesota went up quickly. Then, Boly would strike just a few minutes later to make it a 2-0 game just under five minutes in.

"It's disappointing, obviously. Don't want to get behind early like that," Lindgren said. "We've done it too many times. It's hard to play catch-up hockey."

Still, there have been flashes of strong play and hope that the Capitals have as they look to claw their way back into playoff territory. Ovechkin and Dylan Strome's goals brought Washington within catch-up territory, and the team showed urgency as it made a late push. However, the first 20 set the stage, and the Wild were able to control the game after getting off to an early, comfortable lead. And ultimately, Strome believes that made all the difference on Sunday and in the other recent defeats.

"This is frustrating, obviously. We just haven't started good," Strome said, acknowledging, "Our last 40 minutes, in the last five or six games, have been pretty good, [we've] been hanging in there in every one we've played. Our starts aren't great, I'm not sure the exact reason… time's quickly running out."

The Capitals have two must-win and should-win games as they return home to host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday before facing the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday. Those two games will be a true test, and for D.C., it all starts with coming to the rink ready to play and establishing the relentless mentality, which was on display in that disappointing loss to Minnesota, off the opening face-off.

"We're a high-character team," Lindgren said. "We never felt like we were out of it [against the Wild]. We were fighting till the last second, and I expect nothing else."

All the Capitals news that's fit to print

Sign up and get all of our stories sent directly to your inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.