The Stars were left with the task of trying to slow down a Caps team that was 7-0-1 in their last eight games entering this contest. The Stars had the advantage early, scored first, and ultimately held on for dear life at the end to escape Washington with a 3-2 win.
Dallas opened the scoring 2:17 into the game when Alexander Radulov redirected a shot from Esa Lindell that was slowed down by goalie Vitek Vanecek, but he was right there to nudge the loose puck the last three feet past Vanecek’s right pad to make it 1-0, Stars.
Washington received the game’s first power play at 5:04 of the period when Jani Hakanpaa was sent off for holding. Dallas killed off the penalty to preserve their one-goal lead.
The Caps drew another penalty when Tyler Seguin hooked Tom Wilson on his way to the net 9:25 into the period. The Caps went 0-for-2 when this man advantage expired without a goal.
Martin Fehervary was whistled for tripping at the 17:15 mark to put the Stars on their first power play. Dallas converted when Roope Hintz split the Caps defense at the blue line and broke in alone on Vanecek. Before Michal Kempny could close the gap, Hintz slid the puck under Vanecek to make it a 2-0 game.
The Caps got their third power play of the game 18:43 into the period when Radulov wrapped up Fehervary and was sent off for holding. The Caps had some chances from in close but could not find the back of the net, the remaining 43 seconds of the penalty carrying over to the second period.
-- Dallas outshot the Caps, 11-9, in the period, while the Caps had a 22-21 edge in shot attempts.
-- Conor Sheary and Evgeny Kuznetsov led the Caps with two shots on goal apiece; Kuznetsov and John Carlson leading with four shot attempts apiece.
-- The Caps won just seven of 20 faceoffs in the period, Lars Eller the only Capital over 50 percent (3-for-5/60.0 percent).
The Caps did not convert the remaining time on their power play, and Dallas skated on with their 2-0 lead. And then the Caps went to their fourth power play when Jamie Benn was found guilty of tripping at 4:30 of the period. This time, they converted 23 second into the man advantage, Evgeny Kuznetsov winning an offensive zone faceoff to John Carlson, who fed Alex Ovechkin for a one-timer that beat goalie Jake Oettinger cleanly on the glove side to make it a 2-1 game 4:53 into the period.
Hintz restored the two-goal lead, taking a bump pass from Tyler Seguin at the top of the crease and one-timing the puck over the right shoulder of Vanecek to make it 3-1, 10:38 into the period.
That would end the scoring in the period, with the Stars taking a two-goal lead into the second intermission.
-- Washington outshot the Stars, 15-10, for the period, but Dallas out-attempted the Caps, 26-23.
-- The Caps performance in the circle has been brutal in this game; they were 7-for-25 for the period.
-- Kuznetsov, who seems to have the puck glued to his stick in this game, led the Caps with four shots on goal through 40 minutes. John Carlson had eight shot attempts through two periods.
-- The Caps had a 21-13 edge in credited hits through two periods.
Dallas frustrated the Caps for much of the first half of the period, but the Caps broke though in the ninth minute in the period when Dmitry Orlov took a feed from Tom Wilson in the middle of the ice, changed his angle to use a Stars defender as a screen, and snapped a shot past Oettinger’s blocker to make it 3-2, 8:56 into the period.
The Caps drew a late power play when Michael Raffl was sent off for tripping at the 15:01 mark. The Caps failed to convert and emptied their net shortly thereafter, Vanecek to the bench for a sixth attacker. The Caps played with a lot of energy with the extra man, but they could not solve Oettinger for the tying goal, and Dallas skated off with a 3-2 win.
-- The loss was the first in regulation in March for the Caps and snapped an eight-game points streak (7-0-1).
-- This was the first game that the Caps lost in regulation when allowing three or fewer goals since they dropped a 2-1 decision to Philadelphia on February 26th, a string of six straight wins in those situations snapped.
-- Washington outshot the Stars, 38-23, and out-attempted them, 67-51.
-- Evgeny Kuznetsov led the team with six shots on goal, Kuznetsov and John Carlson leading the team with ten shot attempt apiece.
-- Lars Eller and Brett Leason did not have a shot attempt.
-- Garnet Hathaway led the team with seven credited hits; 14 of 18 skaters had at least one.
-- Washington was 23-for-62 on faceoffs (37.1 percent). All five Caps taking draws finished under 50 percent.
-- Alex Ovechkin’s power play goal made it 15 games in the last 20 that the Caps have had at least one power play goal.
-- Justin Schultz had five of the Caps’ 14 blocked shots.
-- Vitek Vanecek allowed three goals on 23 shots. Not his best game, perhaps, but Vanecek has not allowed more than three goal on home ice this season (18 games).
In the end…
Perhaps it was to be expected. After an intense week preceding this game, including a chippy, hard-fought win in Carolina to end the road trip, a letdown might not be surprising. And the Caps certainly looked as if they were suffering one in the first period. But their intensity ramped up as the game wore on, this game being one of those “they just ran out of time” efforts in which they were clearly the better team late in the game. But Jake Oettinger had a very good game for the Stars in goal and might have been the ultimate difference in this one. File this game away, and get ready for St. Louis on Tuesday.