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4 reasons the Caps lost to the Hurricanes

4 reasons the Caps lost to the Hurricanes

The Capitals saw a 10-game home win streak and a five-game win streak overall snapped as they fell 3-1 to the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday. Here's how they lost.

A poor pass from John Carlson

The Hurricanes opened up the scoring in the second period on a power play...but it was Washington who was the man up. In a play that will not make John Carlson's personal highlight reel, the Caps' defenseman tried to pass to Alex Ovechkin on the point, but the pass was too far ahead of him. Jordan Staal anticipated the pass, poked it past Ovechkin and was off on the breakaway. Staal would finish the play by tucking the puck through the five-hole of Braden Holtby with the backhand for the shorthanded goal.


A controversial no-possession call

Midway through the third period, Tom Wilson was awaiting a delayed penalty call for boarding. Carolina took advantage with a go-ahead goal for Victor Rask, but it was not without controversy. Braden Holtby saved an initial shot from Justin Faulk and the rebound bounced up into the slot where Brooks Orpik took a swing at it with his stick. He clearly got a piece of the puck, but was it enough to qualify for possession?

On a delayed penalty, the play is blown dead once the offending team gets possession of the puck, but what qualifies as possession is at the discretion of the referee. Orpik definitely touches the puck, but touching does not necessarily mean possession. The refs allowed play to continue and Rask fired the puck past Holtby for the go-ahead goal, despite the Caps' protests.

A powerless power play

The Capitals had three opportunities with the extra man, but failed to score on any of them in the loss. In fact, Carolina got more goals on Washington's power play than the Caps did with Staal's shorthanded goal. Washington had a late chance to score as Klas Dahlbeck was whistled for slashing just 1:40 after Rask scored the go-ahead goal. The Caps, however, could not take advantage.


Not enough pressure

Scott Darling has had his struggles in his first season with the Hurricanes with a 2.97 GAA and .893 save percentage. Carolina's latest push in the standings has been largely because of the resurgence of Cam Ward who has an 11-4-2 record as compared to Darling's 8-11-6. Darling played fairly well in this game, but the fact is that Washington did not get nearly enough pressure on him with only 27 shots on goal. The Caps have been held to fewer than that only once in their last seven games. That came on Jan. 2 against the same Carolina Hurricanes.

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Think Jakub Vrana's ice time shows Barry Trotz was unhappy with his play? Think again


Think Jakub Vrana's ice time shows Barry Trotz was unhappy with his play? Think again

It was a bit of a surprise to see Jakub Vrana in the lineup against the Philadelphia Flyers. On Saturday in practice, Barry Trotz mixed his lines up and it appeared that Vrana would be the odd-man out. On Sunday, however, when the team took to the ice for warmups prior to the game against the Philadelphia Flyers, Vrana lined up on the fourth line with Jay Beagle and Devante Smith-Pelly.

Did the near scratch spark Vrana to more production? Not exactly.


Vrana played a career-low 6:25 against the Flyers. He had zero shot attempts or hits. There were only two stats on his stat line from the final box score: One giveaway and one drawn penalty.

Despite that, Trotz was complimentary of the 21-year-old forward following the game.

"What I like about Jake, he competed," Trotz said. "I know he doesn't have the minutes tonight, but he competed and that's what the message was. I met with him this morning and a little bit on the ice the other day and I just said the skill doesn't come out unless that level of desperation and compete is there night in, night out and then you'll have production. He didn't get a lot of ice time, but I was happy with his effort."

Trotz said Vrana's ice time was low because he the team was "hard matching" later in the game against Philadelphia. It was not because of how he played.


But ultimately, the key is to get Vrana producing again and the fourth line is not the best place to spark that. Vrana has only one point in his last 12 games which is why it seemed to make sense that he would be a healthy scratch on Sunday. For a player with his offensive skill, it is harder for him to make an impact on that back line given the limited minutes and the more defensive role. Ultimately he has to play in the top-nine in order to reach his potential on a game by game basis.

If Trotz wanted to spark more compete and more effort from Vrana, the move to the fourth line may have done the trick. But did he play well enough to warrant moving back into the top-nine? That's the ultimate question.

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4 reasons the Caps lost to the Flyers

4 reasons the Caps lost to the Flyers

The Capitals never gained possession of the puck in overtime on Sunday before Travis Konecny scored the game-winner. Despite playing better than they had in their previous two games, Washington still walked away with a 2-1 loss at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers and only one point to show for their effort. Here are four reasons why.

A blown 2-on-1

Alex Ovechkin made a great defensive play in the first period with a steal high in the defensive zone to launch himself and Evgeny Kuznetsov on a 2-on-1. Ovechkin took the first shot which was saved by Brian Elliott. The rebound went right to Kuznetsov who was in position to tap it into the empty net, but instead, he sent the puck right back to Elliott. To be fair, it was a bit of a difficult angle for Kuznetsov, but that's a play that has to result in a goal, especially in a game as close as this one.


Brian Elliott

Elliott had a fantastic game as he denied the Caps on 27 of their 28 shots, many of which were very quality scoring opportunities. Two saves in particular stood out starting with a save on Ovechkin in the first period. The Great 8 was all alone in the slot, but Elliott managed to get in front of the puck and send up and over the net. In the second period, he made another dynamic save as he denied Nicklas Backstrom with the pad when the Caps' center managed to get his stick on the puck in the slot.

A lost faceoff in overtime

Many people wondered why Alex Ovechkin was not on the ice to start overtime, but it was another player's absence that really cost them: Jay Beagle. Beagle's faceoff win percentage of 57.5-percent puts him among the top faceoff men in the league, but Kuznetsov was the first center for the extra session. Sean Couturier beat Kuznetsov on the faceoff to start overtime and the Caps never gained possession at any point before Travis Konecny fired the game-winner past Holtby. Beagle is not the type of player you would typically want out on overtime, but when one possession can cost you the game as it did on Sunday, perhaps the Caps need to get him out there just for the opening faceoff to give themselves a better shot at gaining the first possession and thus a better chance of winning the game.

A neutral zone misplay by John Carlson

If you are going to try to hit a player with the puck in the neutral zone, you better make sure he doesn't get past you or you have put your team in a tough position. That is exactly what happened in overtime when Carlson attempted to pin Konecny along the boards. Konecny squeezed his way through the hip check immediately creating a 2-on-1 opportunity for the Flyers which he would turn into the game-winning goal.