Post-game analysis of the Capitals’ 6-2 loss Sunday night in Pittsburgh’s Consol Energy Center:
How it happened: The Caps fought back from an early two-goal deficit to tie the score on second-period goals by Jason Chimera (off his head) and Andre Burakovsky (on a breakaway), but it all unraveled after that. The Penguins ran off four unanswered goals, three of them in the third period, to complete the rout.
What it means: The loss was the Caps’ most lopsided since a 5-0 thrashing by the San Jose Sharks on Oct. 13. The Caps (51-15-5, 107 points) also missed a chance to clinch their first Metropolitan Division title. The win was the Penguins’ sixth straight and moved them into a second-place tie with the Rangers in the Metro with identical 40-24-8 records.
Weber on the hot seat?: Caps defenseman Mike Weber received a five-minute boarding major when he drove Bryan Rust into the boards midway through the third period. Rust was not injured on the play, but his head slammed into the boards and Weber could face a hearing on Monday for the hit. Weber has never been suspended in his eight-year NHL career.
Bitter rivals: The game featured some of the biggest hits of the season, including crushing blows by Brooks Orpik on forward Patric Hornqvist and Alex Ovechkin on defenseman Brian Humoulin, who did not return. Tom Wilson led all Caps with six hits, followed by Ovechkin and Weber with five each.
Tough in the third: The Capitals were outscored 3-0 in the third period for the first time this season. The Caps are still the NHL’s best third-period team with a plus-31 goal differential, but the Penguins are the best at holding a lead. The Pens are now 33-0-0 when leading after two periods. The Caps are 34-0-1.
Until we meet again: The Caps and Penguins have split their four meetings this season. They meet for the final time in the regular season on April 7 at Verizon Center.
If the season ended today: The top-seeded Caps would face the eighth-seeded Detroit Red Wings in Round 1. The Wings (83 points) hold a three-point lead on the ninth-seeded Flyers, who have two games in hand on Detroit.
RELATED: Chimera scores goal off his head
Vincent Trocheck scored on the power play with 18.7 seconds remaining and the Panthers escaped with a 3-2 victory on an emotional night in Sunrise, Fla.
Trocheck’s goal was Florida’s second in the final four minutes…and the Caps were left to lament yet another incomplete performance. Washington has now lost three of its last four games and fell to 4-5-2 in February.
Tarik’s three stars of the game:
1-Vincent Trocheck, Panthers
Trocheck did what Trocheck does in the third period: The Florida forward scored a clutch goal in the final seconds, redirecting a Jonathan Huberdeau shot through Brooks Orpik’s legs and past Braden Holtby.
Eller was in the penalty box when Trocheck scored his 13th third period goal of the season.
2-Andre Burakovsky, Capitals
After losing a goal to Eller in the first period, Burakovsky made sure he didn’t go home empty-handed. No. 65 scored on the power play in the second period to put the Caps ahead 2-1.
It was Burakovsky’s third goal in six games. He also earned a secondary assist on Eller’s redirection score.
3-Braden Holtby, Capitals
Following a handful of un-Holtby-like performances lately, Holtbeast roared Thursday night at BB&T Center. He made at least one game-saving stop in each period: an arm save on Trocheck in the first period; a pad stop on Denis Malgin in the second and another extended pad stop on Evgenii Dadonov in the third. Holtby finished with 30 stops.
Agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think in the comments.
The Caps looked like they had the win in hand as they led 2-1 late in the third period, but things went off the rails in the final four minutes in a 3-2 loss to the Florida Panthers
Here's how the Caps lost.
An emotional start for Robert Luongo
Before the game, Roberto Luongo took the mic during an emotional tribute to the victims of the tragic Stoneman Douglas school shooting. As a writer, it was hard to get into the game after that. I cannot imagine how hard it must have been for Luongo to focus to actually play in the game. But he did. He started off very well, making several strong saves in the first period. Washington scored late in the opening period after an offensive cycle of over a minute that completely wore out the Panthers' skaters. Otherwise, Luongo was brilliant turning aside 13 of the 14 shots he faced in the opening 20 minutes.
Another shaky start for Braden Holtby
This was the best game we have seen from Braden Holtby in a while as he made a number of phenomenal saves in the second and third period. In the first, however, he continued to struggle. Maxim Mamin scored his first career NHL goal and point as a puck trickled through Holtby and Mamin was able to slam it home. Holtby was dealing with a screen, but reacted late to the initial shot and late to Mamin.
Aleksander Barkov splitting Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson
With a 2-1 lead late in the third, the Caps looked like they had control. But with less than four minutes remaining, Aleksander Barkov was able to split Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson to set up Nick Bjugstad for the game-tying goal. Ovechkin was backchecking, Carlson stepped up on him and then...nothing. It looked as if both players thought the other would take Barkov and Ovechkin let up at the same time Carlson skated past giving Barkov a lane to the net.
A late penalty to Lars Eller
With the game tied late, the Caps were exerting their will in the offensive zone with the cycle that had been dominant all game long...and then Lars Eller tried to set a pick on Bjugstad, knocking him to the ice. It was an obvious interference call with just 42 seconds remaining in the game. Florida would score 22 seconds later to deny Washington not only the win, but a point as well.