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How a bad line change cost the Caps in overtime loss to Predators

How a bad line change cost the Caps in overtime loss to Predators

For much of the game Thursday, the Capitals looked like the better team than their opponent, the Nashville Predagors. But the Predators were able to force overtime and one mistake ended up giving them the win over the home team.

Evgeny Kuznetsov was on the ice at the start of the overtime period. After about a full minute, he tried to make the quick change, but there was just one problem: Nashville still had the puck.

“The 3-on-3, if the other team possesses the puck, especially if they're standing in the neutral zone, you can't change,” head coach Barry Trotz said after the game. “They're just waiting for you to go to the box and then they're passing it. It's an automatic 2-on-1. … The change ended up creating a 2-on-1. It's the decision to change that created the chance.”

Predators forward Ryan Johansen had the puck in the Caps’ offensive zone, but retreated to the neutral zone when he saw he had no room to work with. He skated near the boards on the side opposite of the benches.

At this point, about one minute had elapsed in overtime. Kuznetsov had been on the ice the entire time.

RELATED: Caps fall to Preds in OT, lose fifth of last six

An average NHL shift is about 45 seconds long. One minute of ice time in 3-on-3 with more space to work with will tire you out pretty quick. With Johansen in the neutral zone away from the benches, Kuznetsov made a break for it to try to make a quick change leaving the left side of the ice wide open.

“When you have the puck, especially 3-on-3, it's all about possession and decisions,” Trotz said. “When you don't have it, you have to be positionally sound and you have to be patient and you can't make poor decisions.”

With Ovechkin skating in pursuit of Johansen and Kuznetsov on his way to the bench, that left two Nashville players wide open with nothing but John Carlson between them and the net. Johansen made the pass to Viktor Arvidsson who skated in behind Ovechkin and the break was on. Kuznetsov immediately turned around before he reached the bench and skated in pursuit, but by then it was too late. You can see the full play in the video above.

Braden Holtby said after the game that he and Carlson “got a little crossed up” leading to Carlson leaning a bit too far towards P.K. Subban who was on the rush and leaving Arvidsson too much room to shoot. Arvidsson took advantage.

But when caught on a 2-on-1, there’s only so much the goalie and defenseman can do. The play that triggered the situation was a poor decision by Kuznetsov who tried to make a break for the bench when the Predators still possessed the puck.

Said Trotz, “We made an in-between decision, they capitalize on it and we're sitting here with one less point than we feel that we could have.”

MORE CAPITALS: Check out the latest edition of the Capitals Faceoff Podcast

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Alex Ovechkin gets stitches to the lip after getting hit by puck, but he remains indestructible


Alex Ovechkin gets stitches to the lip after getting hit by puck, but he remains indestructible

It's always scary when you see a player get hit in the head with a puck. It's even scarier when you're a fan of the Caps and that player is Alex Ovechkin.

But there's is one thing you should always remember before you worry about the Great 8: He is not built like a normal human being.

Ovechkin was struck in the face by a puck in the second period of Saturday's game against the Minnesota Wild. It was a scary moment made scarier by the pool of blood he left behind on the ice as he made his way to the locker room.


"Anybody who takes a puck to the face, you hope that they're not hurt badly," Barry Trotz said after the game. "Anytime you get hit to the face there's usually pretty good leakage. I saw, I knew he got hit in the face and in the mouth area and there was pretty good leakage around our bench and he went off and we were just hoping that it's not too serious."

Remarkably, it wasn't serious. Ovechkin missed the remainder of the second period, but returned for the third. After the game, there were a few stitches in his lip, but otherwise there appeared to be no serious damage.

Ovechkin said that after he had been hit he "Just tried to feel my tooth and it was fine. Just moving a little bit, but it's fine. It's hockey."

The fact that no serious damage was done turned what was a scary moment into one both players and coach could laugh at afterward.


"He's a big strong man and he's got a few zippers so he's a lot better looking now that they fixed him up and all that," Trotz said. "It's when you get stitched up, that's the great thing about medicine, they can make you look great."

"It can be much worser," Ovechkin said when asked if he was scared in the moment. "I could lose my teeth."

Nicklas Backstrom had the same thought many of you are probably asking yourself right now: "Does he have any more teeth?"

It was just another reminder that Ovechkin is truly a machine. As the saying goes, "Russian Machine...never gets broken."

I think that's how it goes.

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4 reasons why the Caps beat the Wild


4 reasons why the Caps beat the Wild

The Capitals snapped an ugly two-game losing streak as they returned home to defeat the Minnesota Wild 3-1 on Saturday.

Here's how they won.

A better start

It did not take long in Washington's loss to Nashville or Colorado for you to know the Caps were in trouble. Nashville hit the post in the first minute of the game, while the Avalanche scored 17 seconds in. Washington left both periods down 2-0. That was not the case on Saturday. The Caps showed a lot more energy right from the drop of the puck against Minnesota. This time instead of chasing the game, Washington took control and earned a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes.

Holtby’s impossible save

Protecting a 2-1 lead in the second period, Holtby kept the Caps ahead with an impossible save. After stopping a shot from Joel Eriksson that looked like it caught him in the collarbone, there was a battle for the rebound. Brooks Orpik tried to muscle Eriksson out, but Eriksson knocked into Holtby. Pinned by Orpik, Eriksson could not get away which left Holtby pinned against the right post. A trailing Kyle Quincey ended up with the puck and had half the net to shoot on so he smartly tried to tuck the shot just inside the left post. Somehow, some way, Holtby managed to stretch the glove out to get in front of the puck and keep Washington ahead.

Jason Zucker shut down

Minnesota forward Jason Zucker came into Saturday's contest with a five-game goal streak in which he has scored eight goals. That streak ended on Saturday as Zucker got a heavy dose of Dmitry Orlov and Matt Niskanen on the blue line and the forward combo of Chandler Stephenson, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie. They held the Minnesota forward to just two shots on goal.

Just enough from the penalty kill

No one will mistake the Caps' penalty kill as a shutdown unit and they again allowed a power play goal on Saturday, the fourth they have allowed in three games. But the PK unit always seems to be at its best when the game is on the line. After giving up a goal on Minnesota's first opportunity, the Caps clamped down and killed off Minnesota's three other power play opportunities. In what was a tight game from start to finish, a goal in any of those three chances would have changed the course of the game dramatically.