Capitals

Quick Links

How a nine-second span cost the Caps two points

usatsi_10448368.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

How a nine-second span cost the Caps two points

If you blinked, you may have missed it. The Caps were leading the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday 2-1, but in a flash in the second period, the Kings took a 3-2 lead before a stunned Capital One Arena.

In a span of just nine seconds, Los Angeles scored the game-tying and go-ahead goals over the Capitals in a stretch that ultimately defined the game.

“It's a 3-2 game,” Barry Trotz said. “They get two goals in nine seconds against the top defensive team in the league, you're playing with danger.”

RELATED: CHECK OUT THE LATEST CAPITALS EXTRA PODCAST BREAKING DOWN CAPS-KINGS

They played with danger and they lost because of it.

How did it happen? How does a team allow two goals in just nine seconds?

In the NHL, more often than not, mistakes end up in the back of the net. In that critical span for the Caps, two mistakes were made and the Kings made Washington pay in both cases.

With the Caps leading 2-1 in the second period, Braden Holtby went behind the net to retrieve the puck. He fired the puck off the wall, but there were no Caps on the other end of the pass. That set up Kings defenseman Kurtis MacDermid for a quick shot. The shot deflected off of Jonny Brodzinski and in.

Holtby said after the game that the play was the result of a “miscommunication.”

“I don't know if I just misread if our winger was playing center or we didn't have a winger back or whatever,” Holtby said. “It's just one of those plays we can look at. It wasn't a flubbed pass or anything — I put it where I wanted to put it — just a little crossed up and caught me on a deflection coming back."

On the very next shift off the ensuing faceoff, Madison Bowey allowed Jussi Jokinen in behind him as he made a bad read on the play. It happened quickly, but it was all the time Jokinen needed as he took a pass for the short breakaway and tucked his shot through the five-hole of Holtby.

‘"I think it was a little bit anticipation there and the read wasn't the correct one at the right time of the game," Bowey said. "That happens, but obviously that stuff, I've got to get that out of my game and it definitely did end up costing us the game here, the two points. So it's something that I just have to put behind me and tomorrow's a new day."

MORE CAPITALS: 3 REASONS WHY THE CAPS LOST TO THE KINGS

The mistake was obvious, but Trotz was not overly critical of his rookie defenseman.

"There's mistakes in our game all the time," Trotz said. "Young, old, there's certain things off draws that we try to execute, we just didn't get it done. He recognized it and we'll move on."

The team will move on, but it could not get past that nine-second span in the second period on Thursday.

In a league in which mistakes cost teams goals, the Caps gave up two critical ones against one of the top defensive teams in the league. That is not a recipe for success and it cost them two points.

Said Trotz, "It's a game of mistakes and they capitalized on one more than we did and we're sitting here with a loss."

Quick Links

With Burakovsky out, is Chandler Stephenson the next man up?

usatsi_10646935.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

With Burakovsky out, is Chandler Stephenson the next man up?

With Andre Burakovsky out for the remainder of the first round at least, someone will have to replace him in the top six. Originally, it looked like Jakub Vrana was the man for the job. Based on Game 4, however, it now looks like Chandler Stephenson is the "next man up" for the Caps.

While Vrana may have top-six skill and a high ceiling, it was Stephenson who stepped into the second-line role on Thursday playing alongside Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie. Stephenson finished with two shots on goal in 17:28 of ice time. Vrana, meanwhile, played for only 6:40.

On Friday, Barry Trotz praised Stephenson's hockey IQ for allowing him to adjust to the top-six in a complementary role.

"[Stephenson's] an intelligent player," Trotz said. "He played with [Backstrom] a lot [Thursday]. If you talk with the real top-end guys, he has the ability to think like a top-end guy in terms of play with them. He’s a very intelligent player. He skates extremely well. He’s got some strength to his game. He can complement people. I think his ability to play those different roles and his hockey IQ when you play with those skill guys, he plays more of a give-and-go game than an individual game. When you play with those high skill guys, you’re able to compliment them very well."

Stephenson has spent the majority of the season on the fourth line. He was drafted as a natural center, but has played primarily wing since coming to the NHL. The ability to play both positions gives Stephenson more versatility than most forwards which Trotz credits for helping him see the game so well.

"The great thing about Chandler is he’s played multiple positions over the years. I think it’s allowed him to play a fourth-line role and with high-skill guys. At center-ice, you distribute the puck a little more.  He’s turning into a well-rounded player for us."

On the surface, having Stephenson on the fourth line over Vrana makes little sense. Vrana is highly skilled and has great speed, but he is also prone to giving up turnovers and his production can be inconsistent. Trotz has clearly put a premium on responsible play this postseason which gives Stephenson the edge.

But Game 4 was only one game. If you are going to get top-six minutes, Stephenson will be expected to produce offensively as well. Despite the limited ice time he has gotten, Vrana has shown he can have a major impact on games. In Game 1, he set up the team's only 5-on-5 goal and drew a penalty. In Game 3, he drew two penalties in less than two minutes, giving Washington a two-man advantage.

Stephenson had a fantastic game in Game 4 when he was given the chance to play in the top-six. The next step will be finding a way to have a bigger impact on the game.

RELATED LINKS:

Quick Links

Game 5 Capitals vs. Blue Jackets Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

Game 5 Capitals vs. Blue Jackets Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

Alex Ovechkin said the Caps would return to Washington with a tied series. The Caps captain is a man of his word as the Caps won both Game 3 and Game 4 to even up the series at two games apiece.

John Tortorella had no answers after seeing his Columbus Blue Jackets fall in Game 4, but he will have to figure things out quickly as the series shifts back to Washington for a pivotal Game 5.

The Caps return home with two straight wins and all the momentum. There's just one problem: No one seemingly can win at home.

What: Washington Capitals vs. Columbus Blue Jackets, Round 1, Game 5

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 3:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 5 will be broadcast on NBC.

Live Stream: You can watch Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 5 on NBC Sports' live stream page.

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

The Capitals take on the Blue Jackets in Game 5 on Saturday, April 21 at 3:00 p.m. ET in Washington. The series is tied 2-2.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME ON?

Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 5 will be broadcast on NBC. Coverage kicks off on NBC Sports Washington with Capitals FaceOff at 2:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 2:30 p.m. Tune back to NBC Sports Washington after the game for Caps Extra and Caps Overtime at 6:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

2:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
2:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
3:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Blue Jackets on NBC
5:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
6:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

Capitals-Blue Jackets Game 5 is available to stream live here through the NBC Sports live stream page.

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

Here are the Caps' projected lines:

Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Tom Wilson
Chandler Stephenson - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly- Lars Eller - Devante Smith-Pelly
Jakub Vrana -  Jay Beagle - Alex Chiasson

Michal Kempny - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Christian Djoos

Braden Holtby with Philipp Grubauer as backup.

Scratches: Travis Boyd, Andre Burakovsky (upper-body), Shane Gerisch, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek

CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

SEE THE CAPITALS VS. BLUE JACKETS FULL SERIES SCHEDULE HERE

CAPITALS SCHEDULE