The Caps salvaged a point on Sunday after a disastrous second period, but ultimately fell to the lowly Detroit Red Wings 5-4 in overtime.
Here's why the Caps lost.
A bouncing puck in the neutral zone
Things started out well. Alex Ovechkin gave the Caps the early lead with a power play tally and Washington looked to be in control. They were even outshooting Detroit early on. But everything changed midway through the period when a bouncing puck trickled into the neutral zone. Matt Niskanen tried to retrieve it, but could not after a few unfortunate bounces allowing Justin Abdelkader to swoop in and steal it away. Abdelkader would deke Braden Holtby on the breakaway to tie the game at 1.
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The second period
There's no sugarcoating it, the second period was a disaster for Washington. Lars Eller took an early holding the stick call and, though Detroit did not score on the power play, the momentum began to swing in their favor from that point on. For nearly 17 minutes, Holtby kept the game tied at 1, but then the floodgates opened. Luke Glendening put Detroit up 2-1, Anthony Mantha scored nine seconds later and Tomas Tatar scored with 11 seconds remaining in the period to send the Caps into the locker room down 4-1.
The Caps have made a conscious effort this season to be more selective with their shots, but having 10 shots after two periods just is not good enough. Washington was outshot in the second period 17-2 and allowed three goals. The discrepancy in total shot attempts for the second period looks even worse at 30-5. The Caps' new offensive philosophy is about taking fewer low-quality shots, not eliminating offensive pressure altogether. By whatever metric and whatever philosophy you want to use, the Caps did not get enough offense in the second period and it cost them. In the third period, Washington outshot Detroit 15-5 and outscored them 3-0. That's not a hard correlation to figure out.
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