On a chippy Thursday night in Beantown, the Washington Capitals were eager to take a step forward coming off a win and looking to avenge a loss to Boston just 10 days prior. Instead, familiar mistakes saw the team take a bit of a step back in a very back-and-forth game.
Despite the Capitals putting three past Linus Ullmark, they couldn’t maintain consistent pressure or generate a lot on net. And ultimately, a lack of production, cheap penalties and another injury to the already shorthanded blue line ultimately led to a 4-3 loss in Beantown.
Washington has now dropped six of its last eight games. The team is now 22-10-9 and has fallen back into a Wild Card spot.
Here are all the takeaways from the defeat:
Capitals Offense, Power Play Comes Up Short
Despite getting three on the scoresheet, Washington could not get a lot going on offense, and it ultimately cost them. After Evgeny Kuznetsov’s early strike, Washington found itself struggling to set up scoring chances or get much going in the offensive zone. Even shots were hard to come by, as the Capitals managed just five in the first period and then 17 the remainder of the game. Boston nearly doubled up on D.C. with 33 shots on goal.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) January 21, 2022
Then, there were struggles on the power play. Washington spent a lot of time skating around and trying to set up plays, and after getting two shots off on the first PP attempt, the Capitals weren’t able to get anything on net for the last three tries. They went 0-for-4 in a tight game where chances were hard to come by at even strength, and with the extra man, Washington couldn’t get it done.
Lars Eller and Nicklas Backstrom added key goals for Washington as they came back to even the score twice, but they ultimately couldn’t find the response to Charlie McAvoy’s late strike that made it 4-3.
Saint Nick gets his first of the season! pic.twitter.com/XEeRsRsO4J
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) January 21, 2022
Poor Penalties, Bad Reads Result In A Loss
Boston was piling the pressure on Vitek Vanecek, who came up with a couple of big saves, but what ultimately got the Bruins the win at TD Garden were two key PPGs, including one with 45 seconds to go in regulation time.
First, Garnet Hathaway took a poor penalty in the second period on an interference call that may have the league taking a closer look after Brad Marchand left the game with what could be a severe upper-body injury. With the puck going up the boards, Hathaway sent Marchand down to the ice, appearing to injure Marchand’s shoulder.
Nasty Garnet Hathaway hit from behind on Brad Marchand, who had to leave with an upper body injury that sure looked like a right shoulder issue. Not good. pic.twitter.com/LFZN1065CJ
— Joe Haggerty (@HackswithHaggs) January 21, 2022
Washington would go to the PK, and on that power play, David Pastrnak would score his second of the game on a rare power-play breakaway after a strong shorthanded chance for the Capitals at the other end.
Then, with 2:34 remaining in the third and the game tied 3-3, Nic Dowd took a tripping call that ensued in a Bruins power play. And despite Washington’s best efforts on the kill, poor reads ultimately led to McAvoy striking on a wrister to make it 4-3 with 45 seconds left, costing the Capitals at least a point.
Washington’s PK has not been great of late, surrendering a power-play goal in three straight games and killing just 58.9 percent of its penalties over the last five games overall.
Beyond the penalties, the Capitals also weren’t as tight or careful with the play or making the right decisions, and a loose game also led to the Bruins getting more time and space. Jake DeBrusk ended up scoring on a fluky play that saw Kuznetsov accidentally push the puck past Vanecek, and the first goal from Pastrnak came off a poor read at the blue line.
Jensen Exits In Injury-Filled Tilt, Capitals Fill Void
Marchand and Anton Blidh both left the game for Boston with injuries, Marchand’s coming on a hit from Hathaway and Blidh’s resulting from a big but clean hit from Tom Wilson. Washington didn’t leave unscathed, though, and saw yet another injury this season, this time to Nick Jensen.
It’s unclear exactly what happened, but the team announced after the second period that Jensen would not return after suffering an upper-body injury. He played just 11:35 minutes and was skating on the top pairing with Martin Fehervary with both John Carlson (COVID-19 protocol) and Dmitry Orlov (two-game suspension) already on the shelf.
The Capitals not only had to make do with just five defensemen for the remainder of the game, but they were also without three of their usual top-4 guys. In turn, Washington relied on Justin Schultz and Trevor van Riemsdyk to help fill the void. Schultz led all Capitals skaters with 22:10 minutes, while TVR logged 22:02.
Sammi’s Top Shelf Takes
- Nicklas Backstrom scored his first goal of the 2021-22 campaign and now has six points in eight games back this season. He also won 10 of 19 draws (53 percent).
- Tom Wilson picked up the primary helper on Backstrom’s goal to extend his point streak to four games.
- Speaking of point streaks, Kuznetsov extended his to six games with his 13th goal of the season, and Ovechkin picked up a helper on No. 92’s tally to make it a five-game point streak for himself. Kuznetsov also led all centers with a FO% of 64 (7-of-11 draws won).
- Ovechkin and Brett Leason were tied for the team lead in shots with three apiece. Ovechkin had five attempts blocked.
- Lars Eller picked up his seventh goal of the season and is now one away from tying last season’s total of eight. He is now up to seven goals and 19 points through 34 games this season.
- Connor McMichael also added his second assist in as many games and over doubled his ice time from Tuesday’s game, skating 11:35 minutes.
- Matt Irwin led the charge physically with six hits, and also stayed in after taking a Dowd shot straight to the ice. Ovechkin, Eller, Wilson and Fehervary all had four hits each as well.
- Michal Kempny looked solid in his return to action, skating 20:57 minutes and recording a team-high four blocks (tied with TVR).
- Axel Jonsson-Fjallby generated a lot of speed and looked good on that third line with Eller and McMichael. He had two hits and two takeaways through 8:04 minutes.