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Caps' failed second period power play proves key in loss to Rangers

Caps' failed second period power play proves key in loss to Rangers

On Saturday against the New York Rangers, the Washington Capitals looked to be in complete control. At the end of the first period, the Caps held a 2-0 lead. The Rangers scored early in the second, but then Mika Zibanejad took a double-minor as he hit T.J. Oshie in the face with a high-stick. In a game in which the Caps had dominated, they had a chance to put the Rangers away.

Then things took a turn.

The Caps failed to score despite having four straight minutes of power play time. The Rangers took the momentum and rattled off two more goals to take a 3-2 lead in the second.

A game in which the Caps were in complete control of had suddenly gotten away from them.

"I think we scored first two goals and I think we felt like it's going to be over," Alex Ovechkin said. "Five-on-four, four minutes I think we have only one chance when [Matt Niskanen] shot a puck and after that we was so casual. We couldn't stay in their zone so obviously it's blame on us and can't paly like that."

RELATED: Ovechkin beats Staal on the deke and Lundqvist on the shot

To make matters worse, this was the second game in a row in which the team struggled in the middle frame.

On Thursday, the Caps took a 2-1 lead into the second period against the Florida Panthers, but were outshot 14-4 in that period and gave up the game-tying goal. Washington again struggled in the second period on Saturday. They gave up only five shots, but it yielded the Rangers three goals.

"They definitely scored on the opportunities they got," Lars Eller said. "They didn't give up."

"They came at us a little bit in the second, but wasn't a lot of shots, wasn't a lot of chances," Trotz said. "But all their chances went in. That's just the way it goes sometimes."

Against Florida, there was no single moment that seemed to turn the tide in the Panthers' favor. On Saturday, it was very clear just when the Rangers took over the game.

"They got a little momentum off that power play," Trotz said, "Our own power play they got a little momentum because you get those on your bench, you get a four minute, you want to get something out of it at least and you get right back in the driver's seat if you get one there. They dug in and sort of built a little momentum from that."

The good news is that it is still early in the season. The Caps are only 3-1-1 and will not play many teams that can turn five second-period shots into a complete turnaround.

But the Caps recognized slow starts as a problem from last season and they made a point of correcting it. In five games this season, Washington has scored first in each of their games. Now a similar focus may be needed in order to turn around what is becoming a growing concern in the second period: Weak play in the second period.

"Our first periods have been good, that's something we wanted to correct," Trotz said. "Now our second period, we're going to need to correct that."

MORE CAPITALS: Deflection gives Eller his first goal as a Cap

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Game 73 Capitals vs. Stars Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

Game 73 Capitals vs. Stars Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Dallas Stars

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

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Stars will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Stars game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.


The Capitals (41-24-7) take on the Stars (38-27-8) Tuesday, March 20 at 7:00 p.m. ET at Capital One Arena.


The Capitals-Stars game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Stars
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:00 p.m. — Caps in 30


Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Stars game:

Alex Ovechkin -  Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Andre Burakovsky - Lars Eller - T.J. Oshie
Jakub Vrana - Travis Boyd - Brett Connolly
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Michal Kempny - Jakub Jerabek

Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches: Evgeny Kuznetsov (upper body injury), Alex Chiasson, Brooks Orpik (lower body injury)


The Capitals-Stars game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.


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.

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Can Pittsburgh's past be a goalie rotation blueprint?


Can Pittsburgh's past be a goalie rotation blueprint?

It’s happened. The Caps no longer seem to have a No. 1 goalie anymore, they have a No. 1 and 1a.

That’s right, we have a goalie rotation in Washington.

“There's no sense riding one,” Barry Trotz said after practice on Monday. “[Braden Holtby] is coming back and looking better every game and [Philipp Grubauer] played pretty well for a long stretch so why not have both of them going?”

Grubauer got the start Sunday in Philadelphia and Holtby is slated to get the start Tuesday against the Dallas Stars. After that we will have to wait and see.


Trotz has no layout for which goalie he wants to start and when in the remaining ten games. He is not thinking about each goalie splitting five games or which one he wants to use more.

Nope. Trotz has just one thing on his mind. It is all about who starts the next game, that’s it.

“I think you just go with a guy that's hot at the time and your team feels comfortable with and go from there,” Trotz said.

So where does this leave the goaltending situation when it comes to the playoffs? A goalie rotation is all well and good in the regular season, but he has to have one starter for the postseason, right?

Not necessarily.


When Trotz was asked if he philosophically believed in having one starter for the playoffs, Trotz initially said he would not answer, but then said, “Why don't you ask Mike Sullivan what he thinks.”

Sullivan, of course, is the head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins who has led his team to a Stanley Cup in each of the past two seasons despite turning to both goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray in both seasons.

While Pittsburgh’s goalie rotation was largely based on injury, however, it still provides an example of how using both goalies can work in the playoffs and that seems to be the path the Caps are headed on at the moment.

Said Trotz, “You just have to go with your gut who you think is going to get the job done.”