Takeaways: Fatigued Capitals Fall To Sharks On Super Bowl Sunday
The Washington Capitals got a goal from Evgeny Kuznetsov, but a deflated and tired showing resulted in a 3-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks.
WASHINGTON — The Washington Capitals came into Sunday's matinee against the San Jose Sharks with a game plan: play the same was as they did a day before in Boston, and it'd be an easy win. However, things didn't exactly go according to plan.
The Capitals got some life after an Evgeny Kuznetsov goal, but a tired all-around performance resulted in a 3-1 loss to the Sharks.
Here are all the takeaways from the defeat:
Tired Washington Capitals Struggle To Finish Chances & Lose Key Battles, Lines Jumble Over Course Of Game
Out of the gate, the Capitals were playing with speed and carrying over some of that momentum from their big win against the Bruins 22 hours prior. However, a Lars Eller clear led to Evgeny Svechnikov striking on the Sharks' first shot of the game just 2:54 minutes in. It was deflating for Washington, but the team would still work to generate chances and traffic in front. However, the team struggled to hit the net or finish its chances.
That set the tone for the rest of the game and would be the narrative through 60, as the Capitals look tired and at times, lethargic. Not only that, but the team couldn't win several key battles in all three zones as San Jose was able to control the ice for a good amount of the game and limit the team's chances. The Sharks also shut things down with strong backchecks while breaking up several passes and capitalizing on turnovers and misplays.
As a result of the lack of offense, head coach Peter Laviolette jumbled the lines. Alex Ovechkin and Dylan Strome were separated in the second, as Ovechkin was reunited on the top line with Evgeny Kuznetsov as Marcus Johansson and T.J. Oshie interchanged on the top-line wing. Nicolas Aube-Kubel moved down to the fourth line for a bit to operate with Lars Eller and Garnet Hathaway, who were missing Anthony Mantha due to illness. Nicklas Backstrom then went to work with Conor Sheary and T.J. Oshie. Strome shifted down and also sat for a lot of the second, playing just 1:50 minutes in the middle frame, and he played alongside Sonny Milano and Aube-Kubel, who got more time while Aliaksei Protas took over for him on the fourth line in the third.
Washington ultimately ended the night being outshot 33-21.
Evgeny Kuznetsov Gives Washington Capitals Life, Has Injury Scare
After going down 2-0 following a power-play goal from Alexander Barabanov, Kuznetsov stepped up to give Washington a much-needed goal. He drove to the front of the net and tucked the puck past Kaapo Kahkonen to make it a 2-1 game. He made incidental contact with Kahkonen's head after scoring, leading to Kahkonen leaving the game and Aaron Dell taking over.
However, shortly after his goal, Kuznetsov suffered his own upper-body injury. He was behind the net when he took a hard hit from Logan Couture. The Russian went hard into the boards and fell to the ice in visible discomfort, clutching his right arm. Doubled over, he skated off and went right down the tunnel. He returned for the third.
Washington Capitals Power-Play Woes Continue
Trailing the game, the Capitals had multiple power-play opportunities to get back into it. However, against the Sharks' fifth-ranked penalty kill, the man advantage continued to struggle.
There were missed passes and shots that went wide, along with turnovers and multiple clears. The team has not been able to find much of a spark of late on the power play, and in the first two games back from break, Washington is 1-for-7 after scoring a 5-on-3 goal back on Saturday.
Charlie Lindgren Has Decent Outing Despite Result
After an early goal against, Charlie Lindgren got back into things and shook off the rust, and he came up big while trying to keep his team in it until the end. The 29-year-old came up with quite a few impressive stops, shutting down San Jose on odd-man rushes, including a nice 2-on-1 break late in the third. However, a weird goal from Erik Karlsson in the third that made it through traffic and went off a stick in front would give the Sharks their third goal of the game. Lindgren finished with 30 saves on 33 shots.
Top Shelf Takes
– Aube-Kubel led all Capitals skaters with four shots on goal.
– Erik Gustafsson leads all defensemen with 23 assists after picking up a helper
– Anthony Mantha was held out of the lineup due to illness.