The Washington Capitals wrapped up their back-to-back road games on Saturday night when they faced the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. The Caps got out to a 2-0 lead, but an own-goal and a last-minute goal for the Wild with an extra attacker, and the game went to extra time. After a scoreless overtime, the Wild earned the second point in the Gimmick to skate off with a 3-2 win.
Washington dominated puck possession early but had nothing to show for it in the first eight minutes of the game. They earned their first power play of the evening when Marco Rossi was sent off for holding at 8:05 of the period. As has been the case – like the movie Groundhog Day – the Caps failed to convert, leaving them 2-for-35 (5.7 percent) since November 30th.
Washington when on the penalty kill late in the period when Nick Jensen was fingered for high-sticking at 18:50 of the period. The Wild did not convert in the first 70 seconds of the man advantage and left the remaining 50 seconds for the second period, the teams in a scoreless tie after one period.
-- Washington outshot Minnesota, 10-9, and out-attempted them, 18-17.
-- Nick Jensen led the Caps with three shots on goal and shot attempts with four.
-- The Caps were 12-fo-23 on faceoffs in the period (52.2 percent), not bad considering that Lars Eller was 2-for-9.
The Caps skated off the remainder of the Wild power play, and then they took the lead in the third minute, Connor McMichael setting up in front of the Minnesota net to the left of goalie Kaapo Kahkonen and redirected a Nick Jensen drive inside the near post behind Kahkonen to make it 1-0, Caps, 2:41 into the period.
The Caps got their second power play when Kevin Fiala was whistled for holding the stick at 5:44 of the period. It took four seconds for the Caps to convert, Evgeny Kuznetsov finished a play that started with a Lars Eller faceoff win to the left of Kahkonen. Alex Ovechkin secured the puck and sent it cross-ice to Kuznetsov, who unleashed a one-timer that beat Kahkonen cleanly at 5:48 of the period
Washington went right back to the power play at 7:00 when Fiala went back to the box for tripping. Washington did not convert, and it remained a 2-0 game. But Minnesota walked the perp walk for a fourth time when Fiala was jailed for the third time in this game, this time for tripping at the 10:11 mark. Lars Eller had a fine chance at the left post, but his drive was stopped by Kahkonen and confirmed by video review.
The Caps were going to go on their fifth power play and put a sixth attacker on the ice until a whistle would be blown. But before that happened, Carl Hagelin, trying to get the puck to the point, shot the puck the length of the ice and into his own net to give the Wild their first goal at 13:55. Marcus Foligno got credit for the Wild on the goal. Washington did not convert on the power play that was pending when the Wild “scored,” and that ended the excitement for the second period, the Caps holding a 2-1 lead.
-- The Caps outshot the Wild, 11-4 (12, if you count the own goal),and out attempted them, 19-9.
-- Alex Ovechkin led the team with four shots on goal and five attempts through 40 minutes.
-- Garnet Hathaway was the only Capital with more than one credited hit through two periods. He had two.
The teams fought to a scoreless draw for the first 19 minutes of the period, but the Wild found the equalizer with 35 seconds left when Mats Zuccarello found a hole under goalie Zach Fucale’s left arm and scored to tie the game at two apiece. That would be how regulation ended, sending the game to…
Fucale save the game for the Caps with a diving save on Ryan Hartman in the first minute. Kahkonen later made a sparkling save on Daniel Sprong, and those would be the best scoring chances. But neither was converted, and the game went to…
- MIN – Zuccarello: save
- WSH – Kuznetsov: miss/post
- MIN: Fiala: goal
- WSH: Sprong: save
- MIN: Gaudreau: goal
…Wild win a wild win.
-- Zach Fucale extended his streak without allowing a goal to 138:31, setting an NHL record for longest shutout streak, in minutes, to start an NHL career. Matt Hackett, who coincidentally started his career with the Wild, held the record with 102:48.
-- Minnesota’s goal in the last minute of regulation was their 10th 6-on-5 goal this season, most in the league.
-- Washington outshot the Wild, 31-22, and out-attempted them, 56-50.
-- Alex Ovechkin and Daniel Sprong led the team with four shots on goal apiece; Sprong and Evgeny Kuznetsov has six shot attempts apiece to lead the team.
-- Garnet Hathaway, Mike Sgarbossa, and Tom Wilson led the team with two credited hits apiece.
-- The Caps won 34 of 67 faceoffs (50.7 percent).
-- Nic Down was 15-for-26 on draws (57.7 percent, most wins for the Caps); Lars Eller was 7-for-21 (33.3 percent)
-- Washington was credited with only one takeaway in this game (Ovechkin).
-- Twelve of 18 skaters recorded blocked shots; Justin Schultz had three of the 17 to lead the team.
-- Hathaway and Aliaksei Protas were the only Caps without a shot attempt.
In the end…
An own goal, an blown third period lead in the last minute, and another extra time loss. The Trifecta of Suck. What this game boils down to is that the Caps let the Wild off the hook. They should have mauled a team missing almost half of its starters. Zach Fucale was not called upon to make a lot of stops, but he was excellent when he had to be. But the Caps are leaving too many points on the table with these extra time losses. It is unlikely that failure to secure a fair measure of them will jeopardize their playoff chances, but the Caps could be atop the league standings if they had just split the decisions in extra time games so far instead of going 2-9 in those games.