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4 reasons the Caps lost to the Golden Knights

4 reasons the Caps lost to the Golden Knights

The Caps' first trip to Vegas did not go the way they planned. Washington trailed 3-0 after the first period and that score would stand through the rest of the game. Here's how the Caps lost their first game against the Golden Knights.

The first period

This game was decided in the opening 20 minutes as Vegas jumped all over Washington to take a 3-0 lead. Just moments after Braden Holtby stopped an early breakaway from Brendan Leipsic, Christian Djoos took the puck off a defensive-zone draw and tried a pass right up the middle. Alex Tuch got a stick in front of it to generate a turnover and a mini-break for the Golden Knights which led to Tuch tucking in a rebound to give Vegas an early 1-0 lead. Oscar Lindberg finished off a four-on-two break just five minutes later. The backbreaker came when William Karlsson scored what was virtually an empty-netter as Reilly Smith hit him with the nice pass on the back door.


Vegas’ forecheck

With no superstars on their team, the Golden Knights know every line has to give 100-percent effort every time they are on the ice in order to be successful. In no aspect of Vegas’ game was that mentality more evident than on the forecheck. They were relentless and the Caps really struggled against it, especially early on. They eventually adjusted to it somewhat, but the forecheck gave them fits all night.

The Caps’ power play

If Washington had any chance to get back into this game, it came in the second period when Vegas took two penalties in the first five minutes. But a scuffling power play continued to struggle as the Caps failed to score on either chance. One goal there would have put them back in the game. Instead, they failed to score and went back to the locker room down by three with only 20 minutes remaining. Washington finished the night with no power play goals on four opportunities. The Caps now have only one power play goal in its last eight games.

Marc-Andre Fleuy’s third period

Fleury was not tested much in the first 40 minutes of the game. Washington's best opportunities came in the third period when they fired 10 shots on goal on the former Penguins' netminder. Fleury looked like his old Pittsburgh self as he made a number of key saves to snuff out any possibility of a late-game comeback.

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4 reasons the Caps beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

4 reasons the Caps beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

The Caps put together their best performance of the series Thursday in a 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 4 of their 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs first-round series.

he win pulled Washington even with Columbus in the series 2-2.

Here's how the Caps got the big win.

4 Reasons why the Capitals beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

1. Tom Wilson factors in the offense

Wilson’s hands are good for more than just punching.

He proved that again on Thursday as he scored the first goal for the second consecutive game. Chandler Stephenson and John Carlson provided the pressure on Sergei Bobrovsky. With Bobrovsky scrambling in the crease, Evgeny Kuznetsov passed the puck back to Wilson who fired the one-timer past the Columbus netminder.

In the first two games of the series, Wilson had no points and no shots. In the last two games, he has two goals and 13 shots on goal.

2. A great keep-in by John Carlson

We saw how dangerous it was when penalty killers fail to clear the puck in Game 1 when the Caps failed to clear in the third period leading to the game-tying power play goal.

In Game 4, the roles were reversed. Trying to kill off an Artemi Panarin penalty, Cam Atkinson attempted to clear the puck with the backhand. Carlson skillfully corralled the puck out of the air at the blue line to keep it in the zone.

The power play was able to reset and T.J. Oshie scored the rebound goal soon after.

3. Braden Holtby closes the door to finish the second period

After the Caps took the 2-0 lead, the Blue Jackets made a late push to try to pull one back.

In the last 10 minutes of the second period, Columbus had 13 shot attempts, five of which were not net. Several of those shots were high-quality opportunities, but Holtby came up with the big saves that the team was not getting earlier in the series.

His play ensured the Caps took the 2-0 lead to the locker room.

4. Alex Ovechkin extends the lead to three

Washington entered the third period up 2-0. In each of the first three games, the Caps held a two-goal lead and allowed the Blue Jackets to battle back and tie the score. Even with a two-goal lead, it still felt at the start of the third that the next goal would decide the game. If Columbus pulled within one and got the crowd back on their side, we have seen what that momentum can do for them.

This time, however, Ovechkin struck first. After a board battle behind the net, the puck trickled out to the faceoff circle. Ovechkin grabbed it and quickly snapped the puck past Bobrovsky before anyone could react.

The goal gave Washington their first three-goal lead of the series and shut the Blue Jackets’ comeback down before it could begin.


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Tarik's 3 stars: Ovechkin said Caps would even the series, on Thursday, he helped them do it

Tarik's 3 stars: Ovechkin said Caps would even the series, on Thursday, he helped them do it

COLUMBUS — Alex Ovechkin confidently predicted earlier this week that the Caps were going to win twice at Nationwide Arena and take their first round series back to Washington knotted, two games apiece.

And, on Thursday night, that’s exactly what Ovechkin made sure his team did.

No. 8, who was playing in his franchise-record 101st playoff game, scored his third goal of the playoffs early in the final frame and the Caps beat the Blue Jackets 4-1 in Game 4.

Tarik’s Three Stars of Capitals-Blue Jackets Game 4

1. Tom Wilson, Capitals

After a slow (and penalty-plagued) start to this series, Wilson has become a force. Yes, he took another minor, but the good is far outweighing the bad these days. Big Willy recorded a goal, an assist and a team-high seven shots. 

2. Braden Holtby, Capitals

Holtby had his best game in, well, a long time. He stopped 23 shots, including all eight he saw in a contentious second period.

The goal he surrendered was a nearly unstoppable tip-in by Boone Jenner.

3. T.J. Oshie, Capitals

Osh just plays the game so dang hard.

So it should come as no surprise that he delivered in his team’s biggest game of the season to this point. Oshie, of course, scored the game-winning goal on the power play midway through the second period.

It was No. 77’s second tally of the series. He also directed six shots at the Columbus net and made a couple of hits...all from a player who's been fighting through injury the past few weeks.

Agree? Disagree?

Let us know what you think in the comments.