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Caps get swept in California, lose fourth straight

Caps get swept in California, lose fourth straight

Final score: Washington Capitals 2, Anaheim Ducks 5

How it happened: After battling to a scoreless first period, the Ducks erupted for three straight goals in the second period to take control of the game. John Carlson added a tally to keep the Caps in it, but Anaheim finished them off with two more goals in the third.

What it means: The Caps have now lost four straight for the first time since Jan. 2015 and have lost four straight games in regulation for the first time since Oct.-Nov. 2014. The Pittsburgh Penguins can move ahead of Washington in the standings for first in the Metropolitan Division and for the top spot in the NHL with a win on Monday.

Goals

Ducks goal: Corey Perry, unassisted at 4:52 in the second period. Lars Eller got a bit too cute in the defensive zone and tried a soft pass from the corner that went right to Perry. Perry took it straight to the net and deked Braden Holtby for the goal. Caps 0, Ducks 1

Ducks goal: Corey Perry from Ryan Kesler and Ryan Getzlaf at 9:21 in the second period. Just moments after Holtby had to stop a 2-on-0 opportunity, the Ducks came in on the rush again and Kesler fired a wrister that Perry tipped in for his second goal of the game. Caps 0, Ducks 2

Ducks goal: Rickard Rakell from Ryan Getzlaf at 9:49 in the second period. Rakell fired a shot right off the face off that caught Holtby by surprise. Caps 0, Ducks 3

Caps goal: John Carlson (power play) from Nicklas Backstrom and Justin Williams at 12:10 in the second period. From the corner of the offensive zone, Backstrom found Carlson on the far-side at the top of the zone. The Ducks had bunched up down in the corner after the puck leaving Carlson wide open to tee up the slap shot. Caps 1, Ducks 3

Ducks goal: Ryan Getzlaf (power play) from Ryan Kesler and Corey Perry at 4:27 in the third period. Just as the Caps killed off the first penalty of a two-man advantage, Perry found Getzlaf with the sweet pass giving him a yawning net. Holtby was not able to get over in time before Getzlaf could roof the shot. Caps 1, Ducks 4

Caps goal: Marcus Johansson, unassisted at 4:57 in the third period. Johansson sent the puck to the slot looking for Kuznetsov. Instead it bounced off of Jakob Silfverberg and trickled through Bernier. Caps 2, Ducks 4

Ducks goal: Ryan Kesler from Andrew Cogliano and Jakob Silverberg at 12:42 in the third period. Silfverberg lifted the stick of Matt Niskanen to allow the puck to get buy him and into the Caps' zone. Cogliano then out-hustled everyone to the puck in the corner and backhanded a pass for Kesler that he tipped into the net. Caps 2, Ducks 5

3 stars

1. Corey Perry: Perry made short work of Eller's turnover to get Anaheim on the board, then tipped in a shot by Kesler for his second. It was just the second two-goal game for Perry this season who entered Sunday's game with 12 goals.

2. Ryan Getzlaf: Getzlaf is Anaheim's version of Nicklas Backstrom. He always seems to be involved on almost every goal. Getzlaf had a very quiet three-point night with one goal and two assists.

3. Ryan Kesler: It's Kesler's job to agitate and produce. He did his job on Sunday. Kesler got under the Caps' skin even drawing a penalty from Tom Wilson in the first period as Wilson dropped the gloves, but Kesler would not oblige. He also finished with three points on the night.

Look ahead: The Caps return home for two games with Bruce Boudreau's Minnesota Wild on Tuesday and Nashville on Thursday. They then go back on the road for a Saturday game in Tampa Bay.

Tell us what you think: The Caps have los four straight, but if the team needs to make any major changes their options are limited. The trade deadline has come and gone and there are now budding superstars waiting in Hershey who can turn the team around. What do you think Washington needs to do to shake things up and break the slump?

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How did the Caps let Johnny Gaudreau get so wide open on his goal?

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How did the Caps let Johnny Gaudreau get so wide open on his goal?

A 4-1 win for the Calgary Flames looks like a pretty comfortable margin on the scoresheet, but it was the Capitals who jumped out to the 1-0 lead early in the first period. Just when the Caps had all the momentum on their side, however, Calgary forward Johnny Gaudreau received a tip up pass from Sean Monahan and had nothing but ice in front of him to work with.

Gaudreau is the wrong player to give that much room to. He scored to tie the game at 1 in a moment that seemed to turn the game.

LISTEN TO THE LATEST EPISODE OF THE CAPITALS EXTRA PODCAST ON THE CAPS' LOSS TO CALGARY

You can see the replay of the goal and the play that led up to it here.

From the replay, you can see defensemen Brooks Orpik and John Carlson were both caught on the right side of the ice leaving Gaudreau open on the left.

So what happened? How did Gaudreau get so wide open?

The play begins in Washington's offensive zone. Carlson and Orpik are the defensive pair on the ice, but instead of playing on their normal sides, Orpik is on the right and Carlson is on the left to put him in a better position to shoot off the draw. When the Caps lose the faceoff, Carlson and Orpik want to switch back to their natural positions at the first opportunity, but can't because Calgary has the puck and is pushing up the ice.

The Flames lose possession of the puck in the neutral zone, Orpik recovers and pushes the puck up to Devante Smith-Pelly.

"Brooks pushed it over to [Smith-Pelly] just at the blue line and he went laterally with the puck where he probably should have put it in," Trotz said.

MORE CAPITALS: 4 REASONS WHY THE CAPS LOST TO THE FLAMES

Smith-Pelly was immediately boxed in when he crossed the blue line and he should have dumped the puck to the corner. Instead, he tries a difficult pass left to Alex Ovechkin that is badly off the mark as the puck goes right to Dougie Hamilton. The problem is that, since Washington had possession, Carlson took the opportunity to move back to the right, but Orpik did not yet have the chance to go left because he was in the play. Once the puck gets off his stick, Smith-Pelly turns it over almost immediately and Calgary's quick transition up to Gaudreau catches the Caps with Carlson already back on the right, but before Orpik could get back to the left giving him a free side to skate on.

The result was a goal for Calgary, an ugly replay for Washington and a turning point in a game in which the Caps had jumped out to an early lead.

"They moved it up quickly," Trotz said, "And Gaudreau, if you give him that much space, he's been the hottest guy in the National Hockey League here and we weren't able to shut him down."

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4 reasons why the Caps lost to the Flames

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USA TODAY Sports

4 reasons why the Caps lost to the Flames

After winning five straight at home a confident Capitals team was dealt a tough blow in a 4-1 loss to the Calgary Flames. Lars Eller scored 62 seconds into the game, but the Flames scored the next four straight goals for the win.

Here's why the Caps lost.

Calgary's quick response to the first goal

The Capitals took the lead just 1:02 into the game, but it lasted only 3:47. The Caps are a team that seems to thrive off early energy. They looked lethargic in the first period in both Nashville and Colorado and they lost because of it. The quick response by the Flames did not allow Washington to take advantage of the energy, the momentum or the crowd after taking the early lead.

RELATED: SEE TARIK'S THREE STARS OF THE GAME FOR CAPS-FLAMES

A bad defensive lapse in the first period

Covering only half of the ice is an inadvisable defensive strategy. In the first period, John Carlson and Brooks Orpik were both caught on the right side of the ice leaving nothing but open ice for Johnny Gaudreau to work with.

From the replay, it did not appear the Caps’ defensemen were caught on a bad line change, it was just a bad defensive lapse. Unfortunately for Washington, Gaudreau is the wrong player to leave wide open and he was able to score Calgary’s first goal.

The second period

The Caps were outshot 13-6 in the middle frame and three of Washington’s six shots came in the final three minutes of the period. Calgary completely dictated the play in the second and took the 2-1 lead on a power play goal by Sean Monahan.

MORE CAPITALS: SEE THE LATEST NHL POWER RANKINGS HERE

Special teams

Calgary had the worst penalty kill in the NHL coming into Monday’s game with a kill rate of just 70.6-percent. Advantage Washington, right? Not so much. Washington had three power play opportunities and did not score on any of them. The Caps were also called for five minor penalties of their own. Of Calgary’s four goals, two of them came on the power play and another came one second after a penalty had expired. What should have been an advantage for Washington turned into a disadvantage as the Flames outscored the Caps 2-0 on special teams.