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Caps lose third straight in regulation for first time since 2015

Caps lose third straight in regulation for first time since 2015

Final score: Washington Capitals 2, Los Angeles Kings 3

How it happened: The Caps took a 1-0 and 2-1 lead, but saw the Kings come back each time to tie the game at two after the first two periods. Kings rookie Adrian Kempe, however, scored his first career goal midway through the third period to hand the Caps their third straight regulation loss.

What it means: The Caps have lost three straight games in regulation for the first time since February…of 2015. They now sit just one point ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins for first place in the Metropolitan Division and in the NHL.

Goals

Caps goal: Jakub Vrana (power play) from Kevin Shattenkirk and Justin Williams at 4:35 in the first period. Shattenkirk found Vrana on the long-range slap pass and Vrana redirected it into the net for the early power play tally. Caps 1, Kings 0

Kings goal: Marian Gaborik from Alex Martinez and Anze Kopitar at 15:30 in the first period. Brooks Orpik tried to start the breakout, but turned the puck over on the wall. Kopitar gave Matt Niskanen the curl and drag, and Gaborik buried the rebound. Caps 1, Kings 1

Caps goal: T.J. Oshie from Marcus Johansson at 0:47 in the second period. Johansson skated the puck almost the entire length of the ice through the Kings’ defense and chipped a puck into Quick. A trailing Oshie knocked the puck into the net. Caps 2, Kings 1

Kings goal: Anze Kopitar (power play) from Jeff Carter and Jake Muzzin at 7:20 in the second period. After a debated delay of game penalty to the Caps, Carter fired a wrister right from Alex Ovechkin’s favorite office that was deflected by Kopitar to beat Grubauer. Caps 2, Kings 2

Kings goal: Adrian Kempe from Alec Martinez and Kevin Gravel at 8:46 in the third period. Kempe made his first career NHL goal a memorable one. With the puck along the boards, Martinez spun around to separate himself from Johansson, skated to the circle, then beat a screened Grubauer short-side. Caps 2, Kings 3

Kings goal: Jeff Carter (empty netter), unassisted at 19:58 in the third period. Caps 2, Kings 4

3 stars

1. Anze Kopitar: Kopitar did all the leg work on the Kings' first goal, pulling of the nice move to deke Niskanen. He then got his stick on a shot from Carter to earn the Kings' second goal.

2. Adrian Kempe: Not only did he get his first career NHL goal, it was a beautiful pla and it ended up being the game-winner.

3. Alex Ovechkin: The Caps' captain has come under scrutiny of late for his sudden lack of production, but he looked dangerous in this game. He registered a game-high five shots on goal with an additional six shots missed and three more blocked. It was his best game in awhile, but it did not translate into a goal.

Look ahead: Hopefully the Caps have already turned their clocks back since they are back in action Sunday night. They wrap up the California trip against the Anaheim Ducks then return home just in time for snow and a Tuesday game against Bruce Boudreau and the Minnesota Wild.

Tell us what you think: With three straightr regulation losses and the playoffs just a month away, where is your panic meter? Are you still confident in the Caps or are you getting worried?

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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.