Connect with us

Capitals Takeaways

Takeaways: Capitals Falter, Poor Start & Penalties Costly In Loss To Canes



Capitals forward Tom Wilson

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Frustration boiled over in the third period at Capital One Arena, as Tom Wilson had enough and dropped the gloves to fight Brendan Smith. It came almost midway through the final period and at a rough point for the Washington Capitals, who were trailing the Carolina Hurricanes by four and would surrender another goal just seconds later.

That fight, as well as a lone goal from No. 43, was all the Capitals were able to put up in a lackluster 6-1 loss to the red-hot Hurricanes. It marked yet another loss on home ice for Washington and their third loss in their last four games to close out the month of March, which, up to Monday, hadn’t been too bad.

“[We] weren’t ready for the first couple shifts. But after that, I think we played probably 20 minutes of good hockey and we just couldn’t get anything going,” Conor Sheary said. “Unfortunate game against a division opponent. But we’ll move past it.”

Here are all the takeaways from the defeat:

Capitals Fall Into Bad Habits, Get Off To Slow Start

The Capitals weren’t ready to open the first period and found themselves chasing the game rather quickly when Derek Stepan made it 1-0 just 2:41 minutes in before Martin Necas struck just 5:06 minutes later. Washington didn’t bring the same energy or momentum to the table, and couldn’t get anything going.

A few missed calls also resulted in some issues, as well as a slashing penalty called on T.J. Oshie that robbed Alex Ovechkin of a power-play goal to get the Capitals on the board.

Ultimately, despite the end of the first getting a bit better, it wasn’t the start Washington wanted, and it led to the team trailing 2-0 and also managing just five shots in the first period while the Hurricanes doubled up with 10. Not only that, but it set the Capitals up for a defeat they couldn’t come back from.

Defense Has Tough Night As Capitals Can’t Convert

It wasn’t the best night for the blue line or netminders. Vitek Vanecek in particular had a rough go-of-it, surrendering five goals on 23 shots through the first two periods. Ilya Samsonov relieved Vanecek in the third, marking the first time in a long time the Czech netminder has been pulled, and he stopped five of six.

While the goaltending wasn’t great, Washington also didn’t get a standout performance from the defense. The team didn’t make the right reads, and the Capitals often found themselves trailing and having poor coverage in front. In addition, they were outskated at times.

The Capitals did have some fight in the second period, managing 15 shots. However, the team couldn’t convert on their power-play opportunities, and calls against and poor discipline also took away from those chances. Also, Washington surrendered a shorthanded goal while going 0-for-4 on the night.

John Carlson was a minus-4, while Martin Fehervary was a minus-3 on the evening. On the bright side, the team did shut down all four of the Canes’ power-play chances.

“You could look at this game and really want to get back in the rink and turn things around,” Garnet Hathaway said. “The situation we have is that we have a couple days off. We’ll have to digest it and we’ll have to get past it and we’ll have a few days of practice to work on things so it doeesn’t happen again.”

Wilson Injects Life Into Capitals

Washington did come out with more fire in the second period, as Wilson got the team on the board early in the frame to cut the deficit in half. It marked his 21st goal of the season and his fifth straight game with a point. He is one goal shy of tying his career-high of 22 set in 2018-19.

Wilson also dropped the gloves and tried to give the team a spark in the third by fighting Smith. He had tried to drop the gloves earlier with Smith, who has been a thorn in the team’s side this season but received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

Sammi’s Top Shelf Takes

  • Alex Ovechkin led Washington with seven shots.
  • Axel Jonsson-Fjallby had a decent game, generating speed and pressure on the forecheck. He recorded five shots through 12:44 minutes.
  • Connor McMichael skated just 11:23 minutes, along with Garnet Hathaway.
  • Fehervary brought the physicality with seven hits. Lars Eller also chipped in with five of his own.
  • It wasn’t a great night in the faceoff dot; Nicklas Backstrom went 2-for-12 (17 percent) while Eller went 5-for-14 (38). McMichael won five of 11 (55), and Evgeny Kuznetsov led the team with six wins on 10 attempts (60). His 12-game point streak did come to an end, though, and he was a minus-3.