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Takeaways: Kids Come Up Big, But Special Teams Falter In Capitals’ Loss To Cats

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Capitals forward Connor McMichael

It was a strong start for the Washington Capitals, as they propelled to a 2-0 lead in a span of 11 seconds in the opening frame and then struck two more times in the second to carry a 4-1 lead into the third.

However, Florida dominated and completely tilted the ice in the final frame, and managed to strike four unanswered time to steal the 5-4 victory. Washington is now 14-4-5 this season.

Here are all the takeaways from the loss.

The Kids Are Alright

With the Capitals battling in the first period, the rookies were the ones to break through and get Washington going.

Connor McMichael finally ended a 10-game goal drought, netting his third of the season on a beautiful play where he banked the puck off Sergei Bobrovsky and in to give the Capitals the lead.

McMichael now has two points in his last four games and has kept his spot in the lineup over Daniel Sprong with Lars Eller drawing back in. That goal is a strong sign for No. 24, and he was solid in generating pressure and making strong plays. He led all Washington skaters with four shots on goal.

Just seconds after McMichael’s tally, Beck Malenstyn and Brett Leason went on a solid rush, with Malenstyn burying his first NHL goal to put the Capitals up by two.

He has been outstanding since his call-up and working well on the all-rookie line with Leason and Mike Sgarbossa and has made himself noticeable. He missed the entirety of last season after tearing his whole Achilles just before the start of training camp, and his comeback campaign has been quite impressive. Malenstyn finished the night with a goal, two shots and four hits through 10:35 minutes. He did, however, take a costly penalty that led to the Panthers’ game-winner.

Sgarbossa also dominated in the face-off dot, winning five of seven draws to lead all forwards with a face-off percentage of 71.

Three of Washington’s rookies (Leason, Malenstyn, McMichael) found the scoresheet against the Cats. Washington’s rookies now have 26 points through 23 games, and seven of them have scored their first career NHL goals this season.

Lopsided Third Costs Samsonov, Capitals

Where everything fell apart, though, was in that final frame. Washington was outshot 27-2 in the final frame, with Florida completely tilting the ice and taking over the tempo. The Capitals found themselves flat-footed and outplayed, and stepped off the gas while failing to help Ilya Samsonov.

While Samsonov did surrender four answered tallies, he stood tall for 46 saves on 51 shots for a save percentage of .902. He just couldn’t overcome the storm in the final 20.

Lopsided Third Costs Samsonov, Capitals

Where everything fell apart, though, was in that final frame. Washington was outshot 27-2 in the final frame, with Florida completely tilting the ice and taking over the tempo. The Capitals found themselves flat-footed and outplayed, and stepped off the gas while failing to help Ilya Samsonov.

While Samsonov did surrender four answered tallies, he stood tall for 46 saves on 51 shots for a save percentage of .902. He just couldn’t overcome the storm in the final 20.

Sammi’s Top Shelf Takes

  • Lars Eller scored his second of the season and first goal since coming back following a bout with COVID-19. He now has points in four of his last five games.
  • Dmitry Orlov also stayed hot with two helpers and now has six points in his last five games.
  • Tom Wilson is riding a five-game point streak.
  • Carl Hagelin didn’t convert on a great breakaway, but he still found the scoresheet with an assist, his first point in 10 games.
  • Speaking of Hagelin, his linemate, Nic Dowd, has points in four of his last six games.
  • Martin Fehervary was a physical presence on the ice over the course of the game and led the Capitals with six hits.
  • Nick Jensen picked up his third of the season and an assist, and he has already surpassed his goal total from last season. He has been outstanding and continues to play solid hockey on the backend.
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