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Takeaways: Capitals Have Worst Game Of Year, Fall To Bolts In Chaotic Loss

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Washington Capitals

The Washington Capitals start to 2022-23 hasn’t been great, but Sunday’s tilt with the Tampa Bay Lightning was by far the team’s worst showing of the season yet.

From the get-go, things weren’t going Washington’s way, and to make matters worse, the effort wasn’t there, and the team was deflated and easily shut down. Although a wild second half saw three goals for the Capitals, a disastrous four-goal first for Tampa Bay and a lack of any prolonged momentum resulted in a disappointing 6-3 loss.

Here are all the takeaways from the defeat, which moves Washington to 7-8-2.

Everything Falls Apart As Washington Capitals Suffer Worst Start Of Season

After a dominant 5-1 victory on Friday, the Capitals were unable to carry over that energy to Sunday’s tilt and came out of the gate on the wrong foot. Just 1:23 minutes in, Mikhail Sergachev’s point shot went off Dylan Strome and in to make it a 1-0 game. From there, things would go downhill — and fast.

Nikita Kucherov struck next on the power play, and minutes later, Nick Perbix would add a goal that went off Erik Gustafsson’s skate and in. Sergachev then struck again on another man advantage to make it a 4-0 hockey game with just under four minutes to go in the opening frame. At that point, Washington made the tough decision to pull Darcy Kuemper, who’d been red-hot going into Sunday’s tilt, for the first time this season as Charlie Lindgren came in relief.

Not only were they down four, but the Capitals didn’t get their first shot on goal until late in the first with 2:50 remaining in the frame. Shots were 9-4 in favor of the Bolts after 20.

That poor start was deflating and took the wind out of Washington, who was disjointed, disorganized and out of sync for the majority of the night. Despite flashes of strong forechecking and a Conor Sheary goal late in the second, that first 20 made for a complete shift in momentum and a deficit that ultimately proved too hard to come back from.

Cole Koepke and Nick Paul would make it a six-spot in a back-and-forth third.

Washington Capitals Power Play Takes A Nosedive

Back on Monday against the Edmonton Oilers, the Capitals saw the power play break out and move up the ranks as the ninth-best PP unit in the league. Since then, things have gone way downhill for the club when it’s at 5-on-4. And, against Tampa, the going got tougher, as the units went 0-for-6.

There wasn’t any chemistry or momentum going. Passes weren’t connecting, there wasn’t much space to work with and Washington didn’t hustle to keep it in the zone. When the Bolts turned it over, it seemed too easy for them to get it out of the zone. The opportunities gave Alex Ovechkin and company several chances to get back in the game, and they just couldn’t get it done.

Over the last three games, the Capitals are 0-for-16 on the man advantage. Given things aren’t really clicking at even strength (with the exception of Friday), having a strong PP is vital at a time like this. and the team managing just 14 shots against Tampa, having a strong PP is vital at a time like this.

On the last chance, John Carlson was taken off the first unit in favor of Gustafsson.

Washington Capitals Get Some Production In Wild Final Half

Sheary got on the board for his sixth goal of the season, and he now ranks second on the team in goals with six.

Eller also got on the board and has points in back-to-back games. Marcus Johansson and Trevor van Riemsdyk picked up the helpers.

With the game 6-2, Garnet Hathaway got on the board to pull D.C. to 6-3.

Additional Washington Capitals Notes

  • Evgeny Kuznetsov now has points in three of his last four games, with six points over that span.
  • Connor McMichael didn’t do much, as he missed a pass on one two-on-one break early on and then didn’t get a pass from Lars Eller on his second. He skated just 9:42 minutes, going without a shot, block, hit, giveaway or takeaway.
  • Nic Dowd went 8-for-10 in the face-off dot.
  • Charlie Lindgren looked good in relief, stopping 24 of 25 shots (.960 save percentage) and coming up with quite a few good saves to keep the Capitals in it for as long as possible.
  • Matt Irwin dropped the gloves twice to ignite a spark for his team. While it didn’t pay off, props to him for trying. He also led in the physicality department with a whopping 10 hits. He also had a critical block and was a plus-2, so one of the best players on the ice arguably.

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