The Washington Capitals blew a two-goal third period lead in the last ten minutes of regulation, the latter of the two goals scored by the San Jose Sharks coming with one second left in regulation. The Sharks went on to grab the extra standings point in overtime to send the Caps to a sixth-consecutive loss.
It was a wild first period, but hardly surprising for two teams who give up goals recently as if they could claim them as charitable deductions. Joe Pavelski opened the scoring off a faceoff win in the offensive zone, gathering a rebound of a Brent Burns drive to the net and backhanding it past goalie Braden Holtby just 12 seconds into the game. It was a sign of things to come.
Alex Ovechkin tied the game mid-way through the period on a power play when he jumped on a loose puck to the right of goalie Martin Jones, pulled the puck off his backhand to his forehand, and chipped it past Jones at the 10:41 mark. And the deluge was on…
Andre Burakovsky scored 90 seconds after Ovechkin when he altered his skating line to give him shooting room through a defender and wristed the puck through Jones… Tomas Hertl tied the game barely two minutes later, converting a nifty passing play among Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski and himself…T.J. Oshie scored less than a minute after Hertl to restore the lead, taking a backhand centering feed from Ovechkin, deking Jones to the ice, and slipping the puck past Jones’ right pad…
…and the first period finally came to an end, the Caps ahead, 3-2.
- San Jose had a 24-21 edge in shot attempts and a 15-14 edge in shots on goal.
- T.J. Oshie led the Caps with four shots on goal in the first period.
And the rains came once more…
….Evander Kane tied the game once more just 52 second in as a power play expired… Evgeny Kuznetsov put the Caps in front again two minutes later by being patient, collecting a loose puck at the goal line to Jones’ right, pulling it back for a shooting angle, and snapping a tough-angle shot past a lunging Jones,,, Ovechkin gave the Caps a two-goal lead less than three minutes later by waiting until he could use two Sharks as a screen and snapping a shot past Jones just 5:41 into the period.
The damage… the two clubs combined for seven goals (the Caps with five) over a 15:00 span across the first and second periods. But it was not over…
Just after a Caps power play expired, a turnover led to a not one…not two… but a THREE-on-0 break for the Sharks, Logan Couture converting with a backhand between Holtby’s pads 14:39 into the period to make it 5-4. And quiet settled over the land for the second intermission.
- Six different Caps had points in the second period (Kuznetsov and Ovechkin with goals; Vrana, Wilson, Backstrom, and Oshie with assists).
- Dmitrij Jaskin was the only Capital without a shot attempt through two periods.
The teams traded goals less than five minutes apart to open the third period. Ovechkin completing the hat trick 5:52 into the period when he took a cross-ice feed from Jakub Vrana and swept the puck from the left wing circle past Jones. Hertl got the Sharks back to within a goal on a replay of the first period power play goal he scored, this one off superb passing to set it up from Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski at the 10:02 mark. But it was not over…not nearly.
Evander Kane tied the game with one second left in regulation when he got free on the weak side, camped at the far post to Holtby’s left. Pavelski threw the puck at the net, and it squeezed through to Kane, who swatted it in to force overtime.
Hertl got the hat trick, snapping a shot under Holtby’s right arm and into the far side of the net 1:48 into the extra frame, and the Caps left a point they seemed sure to have earned on the table. Caps fans hope that point won’t matter in April.
- This was the 334th multi-point game of Alex Ovechkin’s career, 18th on the all-time list and third among active players (Joe Thornton: 380, and Sidney Crosby: 350). It was his 105th career game with three or more points, breaking a tie with Doug Gilmour for 16th all-time and tying him with Peter Forsberg for 15th on the all-time list. He trails only Crosby (133) and Thornton (110) among active players. It was his 26th four-point game, tied with Forsberg and Eric Lindros for 18th-place all-time and third among active players (Thornton: 28; Crosby: 31).
- Ovechkin’s hat trick was his 23rd of his career, breaking a tie with Teemu Selanne for third place all-time. He leads all active players (Eric Staal: 14).
- T.J. Oshie also had a multi-point game, his 44th as a Capital, breaking a three-way tie for 25th all-time with Sylvain Cote and Scott Stevens. It was his 14th three-point game as a Capital, 19th on the all-time franchise list.
- Andre Burakovsky’s goal broke a personal 14-game streak without one.
- The last time that the Caps allowed seven or more goals in consecutive games… October 7-8, 2005 (Ovechkin’s second and third career games). A pair of losses to the Atlanta Thrashers on consecutive nights, 7-3 and 8-1.
- Nicklas Backstrom had a pair of assists, his 226th career multi-point game, second in franchise history and tied with Jason Spezza for eighth place among active players.
- That’s three times in four games that the Caps allowed seven or more games.
- The Caps allowed 43 shots on goal, the highest total for an opponent since Montreal recorded 44 in a 5-4 overtime win for the Caps on November 19th.
- Evgeny Kuznetsov had a goal and an assist, his first two-point game since January 6th and only his second since December 11th.
- Until this season, Braden Holtby had not allowed seven goals in a game. This was the second time this season in which he did. The first one also ended in overtime, a 7-6 loss to Pittsburgh on October 4th, the second game of the season.
In the end…
The Caps are a mess in their own end. They cannot score enough to spackle over all the holes on defense and in goal. It is arguably the worst sustained defense/goaltending performance over a series of games since the earliest games of the Ovechkin era, when the Caps just didn’t have much talent. This team does not have that excuse. Scoring 11 goals in consecutive games and getting one standings point out of it might be an aberration, but it doesn’t matter. It has to end, and end soon, or this is going to be one long, frustrating winter.