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Caps hang on in overtime for 4-3 win over Jets

Caps hang on in overtime for 4-3 win over Jets

The Caps jumped out to a 3-0 lead, saw it evaporate in the third period, but still pulled out the win thanks to a power play goal by Alex Ovechkin in overtime.

How it happened: For two periods, it looked as if the Caps were going to run away with this one. Nicklas Backstrom scored his first goal of the season and T.J. Oshie and Ovechkin added two more in the second to give the Caps a 3-0 lead. But the Jets were not done. A bizarre short-handed goal by Toby Enstrom just 2:11 into the third period gave Winnipeg life and they were able to erase the deficit and force overtime. It is already the third time this season the Jets have erased a three-goal deficit in the third period. Ovechkin, however, came to the rescue with his second goal of the game, a power play goal in overtime to earn the victory for the Caps.

What it means: The win is the fourth straight for the Caps who have completely erased the memory of their two-game skid just one week ago. The two points helps the Caps keep pace with the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins as all three teams continue to separate themselves from the rest of the Metropolitan Division.

A troubling trend: Thursday's game marks the fourth time this season the Caps have given up a lead of at least two goals. The season is just 10 games old. As the saying goes, a two-goal lead is the worst in hockey, but a team should be able to hold a three-goal lead heading into the third period. The Caps could not and it almost cost them a point.

Better late than never: Prior to tonight’s game, Backstrom was one of only two Caps forwards without a goal this season. He still entered the game as fifth on the team in points with 5 assists, but the goal will still likely lift a weight off the Swede's shoulders especially after being held without a shot by the Jets on Tuesday. Zach Sanford is now the only Caps forward without a goal this season.

Strong in the second: The Caps have struggled in the second period this season, but they were dominant on Thursday as they took what looked like a stranglehold on the game with a strong middle frame. Washington outshot the Jets 18-5 in the second for a whopping 13-shot margin. The Caps also added two goals to take a commanding 3-0 lead into the third period. In the back-to-back games against the Jets, the Caps outscored Winnipeg 3-0 and outshot them 27-20.

The best offense is a good defense: With John Carlson's assist on Alex Ovechkin's goal in the third period, the Caps have now gotten points from their defensemen in nine of 10 games this season. Depth scoring was a major focus for the Caps heading into the season and part of their plan was more involvement from the defense. That plan seems to be paying off. Despite the increased offense, the defensive core has not been overly aggressive leading to too many opportunities the other way. The assist also puts Carlson in elite company as it was career assist No. 177, moving him ahead of Rod Langway for eighth place in Capitals history for assists by a defenseman.

Limiting Laine: Patrik Laine is one of the bright young talents of the NHL, but the Caps were able to shut down the star rookie for two games. Laine had zero points and zero shots on goal Thursday in the loss. Laine did manage five shots on goal Tuesday, but he was also held off the scoresheet in that game as well.

Look ahead: Thursday’s game was just game one of a three-game homestand. The Caps will host the Florida Panthers on Saturday and the defending Western Conference champion San Jose Sharks on election day. Then its back to the road for the Caps as they begin a three-game road swing that will take them to Chicago, Carolina and Columbus.

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3 reasons why the Caps lost to the Lightning

3 reasons why the Caps lost to the Lightning

After a rough start, the Caps battled back to make a game of it against Tampa Bay, but ultimately fell 4-2 to the Lightning. Here's why.

The first period

To put it simply, this game was lost in the opening period. Washington was the better team for the second and third but they could not overcome the 3-0 lead they spotted the Lightning in the first. Beyond the goals, the Caps just did not play well. Even the simplest of plays looked difficult as Washington struggled to get the puck out of their own zone, gave up numerous turnovers and scoring chances and just looked overmatched. Braden Holtby also looked shaky allowing three goals on just eight shots. Usually he is able to cover up some of the mistakes the defense makes it front of him, but he was not there to bail the team out on Tuesday in what was a really rocky start.


Taking a penalty 34 seconds into the game

Entering Tuesday’s game, Tampa Bay boasted the second best power play unit in the league. Playing a disciplined game is part of every game plan, but that is especially true against such a dominant unit. Giving up a penalty just 34 seconds into the game was not an ideal start. The call itself was debatable. Brett Connolly was called for interference when he knocked over Dan Girardi in the offensive zone. The puck was just behind Girardi as he had lost control of it in his skates. The sticking point here is that Girardi no longer had possession and Connolly could have played the puck instead of the player. Most referees would probably let that go with the puck so close, but Connolly was not so lucky. Whether it was a good call or not, the Caps found themselves down a man and down a goal soon after as Brayden Point scored the power play tally.

A missed opportunity from Kuznetsov on one end, a goal for Nikita Kucherov on the other

Even after spotting the Lightning a 3-0 lead, the Caps made a game of it. Lars Eller struck on the power play in the second period and Alex Ovechkin pulled Washington to within one with about nine minutes left to play. Just over a minute later, Evgeny Kuznetsov stole the puck away from Nikita Kucherov, the frontrunner for league MVP this season, at the Tampa blue line giving the Caps a short 2-on-1. Defenseman Andrej Sustr was textbook on the play forcing Kuznetsov as far wide as he could go while still covering the passing lane and Kuznetsov elected to shoot from the faceoff dot rather than attempt the pass to T.J. Oshie.Andrei Vasilevskiy made a routine blocker save to deny what looked like a great opportunity to tie the game. As always happens in hockey, a failed opportunity on one end led to an opportunity in the other direction. Less than a minute later, Kucherov made up for his mistake by scoring a breakaway goal to put the game out of reach at 4-2.


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3 stars of the game: Lightning strike 3 times in the first to burn Caps

3 stars of the game: Lightning strike 3 times in the first to burn Caps

The first 20 minutes of Tuesday's game did not go well for Washington. The Tampa Bay Lightning scored three times in the opening frame and rode that lead all the way to the 4-2 win.

With the game heading towards a repeat of their blowout loss to Chicago, the Capitals rebounded in the second period to make a game of it as Lars Eller scored on a power play. Alex Ovechkin pulled Washington within one in the third period, but Nikita Kucherov slammed the door shut with a breakaway goal to extend the lead back to 2.

Here are the three stars of the game:

1. Brayden Point: Tampa Bay won this game in the first period when they took a 3-0 lead. Point scored two of those three goals. His first came only 2:30 into the game. He retreated to the blue line on the power play believing Jay Beagle would clear the puck. When Beagle turned the puck over, he recognized it and immediately crashed the net, taking a Ryan Callahan pass in the slot and shooting it through the five-hole of Braden Holtby.

On his second goal, Anton Stralman saw an opportunity on the Caps’ line change and passed the puck up to Point at the blue line. Point turned on the jets to get behind the defense and went five-hole again on Holtby to make the score 3-0.

2. Alex Ovechkin: After the first period, Washington slowly took this game over for much of the remaining 40 minutes. Ovechkin was a big part of that as he totaled an incredible 19 shot attempts for the game. Nine of those shots were on goal and he found the back of the net in the third period for career goal No. 594.

3. Tom Wilson: Through the first period, the Caps looked well on their way to a repeat of the 7-1 debacle they suffered Saturday in Chicago. They had nothing going in this game until Wilson drew a trip from Vladislav Namestnikov in the second period. Eller would score on the resulting power play giving Washington some much-needed life.

The Namestnikov penalty was the 29th drawn penalty of the season for Wilson, which moves him into a tie with Matthew Tkachuk for the most drawn penalties in the NHL.