The Caps were able to bottle up Connor McDavid for much of the game, but Alex Chiasson’s strong performance led the Oilers to the 4-1 win over Washington.
Here’s why the Caps lost.
It was all smiles between the Caps and Chiasson earlier Thursday when the team presented Chiasson with his championship ring. That night, however, it was all business as Chiasson scored a goal and set up another.
Braden Holtby was tremendous to start the game and even stopped Connor McDavid on a breakaway just 3:50 into the game. But there was nothing he could do when Chiasson got in his face for the screen.
With Edmonton on the power play, Chiasson got right up in the face of Holtby and stood there, providing an excellent screen that allowed Evan Bouchard to shoot the puck past the helpless netminder.
It is much harder to defend against a screen while killing a penalty. The penalty killers have to account for the passing lines and puck carriers which often leaves a man free in front of the net. A player like Chiasson probably isn't on the power play to carry the puck all that much. He’s there just to get in the goalie’s grill. Mission accomplished.
In the third period, Chiasson put the exclamation point on the Oilers’ win as he skated in and rifled a shot past Holtby for his third goal in two games.
An ugly shorthanded goal
Down 1-0, the Caps got their first power play opportunity in the second period. What should have been a great opportunity to tie the game soon turned into a disaster thanks to an egregious turnover.
John Carlson skated up and out of the defensive zone with the puck while being harassed by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Unbeknownst to Carlson, Nugent-Hopkins continued shadowing him. When Carlson turned around to pass the puck back, he instead handed it right to Nugent-Hopkins.
Nugent-Hopkins easily decked Nicklas Backstrom, when in on net and fired the shorthanded goal past Holtby to make it 2-0.
Some bizarre penalty calls
It was a frustrating night in more ways than one as it began to feel like the Caps were battling both the Oilers and the referees.
It wasn't that the referees awarded Edmonton four power plays and the Caps only one, it was more the nature of the penalties.
In the third period, Nic Dowd was tossed from the faceoff circle in the offensive zone. Dmitrij Jaskin stepped in, the linesman appeared to pump fake the puck drop drawing the stick from Jaskin and he was promptly tossed as well. By rule, when a team has two players tossed on the same faceoff, they are assessed a delay of game penalty for a faceoff violation.
It is not a call you see normally and it felt even more frustrating considering Jaskin made the mistake only after getting faked out by the linesman.
Later in the third period, the Caps were called for icing. When called for icing, the same five players must stay on the ice. At times, a team can get caught trying to change on icings which leads to some confusion as to who needs to come back on the ice or stay on the bench. The Caps had about six or seven players on the ice as they sorted out who had to stay on the ice, but apparently they took too long for the referee’s liking and he called the team for delay of game.
Could this have been an intentional tactic to waste time? Sure, but it appeared like there was no warning at all to hurry up, just an immediate penalty. Washington is also hardly the only team that takes a bit too long after a third period icing, but there rarely seems to be a penalty call on such plays.
Edmonton did not score on either of those third period power plays, but they certainly did not help the Caps comeback efforts in the final frame.
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