The Caps entered the third period tied with the Penguins at 3, but allowed four goals to Pittsburgh in the final frame for the 7-4 loss.
Here's why the Caps fell to their archrivals on Friday.
A slow start
For the second time in as many games, the Caps faced a 2-0 deficit after giving up the first two goals. Washington has now given up the first goal in nine straight games. Yes, the Caps lead the league in wins when giving up the first goal (13), but they cannot always dig their way out of the holes they dig for themselves. The Caps did well to battle back to tie the game at 3-3 and 4-4, but they did not have enough left in the tank to match Pittsburgh in the third period.
A brutal Christian Djoos turnover
Already down 1-0, Djoos was pressured in the defensive zone by the forecheck of Carl Hagelin. Hagelin pressured Djoos and then stepped into the passing lane as Djoos tried to pass across the middle to Carlson. Hagelin was able to intercept the puck and took it in on net to beat Braden Holtby and make it 2-0. Kuznetsov was directly in front of Djoos before he attempted to pass through Hagelin. Djoos had a choice of passing to Carlson or Kuznetsov and made the wrong choice under pressure. That's a rookie mistake.
Too many penalties
Pittsburgh came into this game with the best power play in the NHL scoring at a rate of 26.7-percent. Discipline had to be priority No.1 for the Caps. Not only did Washington give up four power plays, but three of those penalties came in the offensive zone. Defensive zone penalties happen. You're chasing the puck and the puck carrier can draw hooks, trips, high-sticks, etc. Offensive zone penalties are unforced errors. The Caps could not afford any of those on Friday and they took three of them. Pittsburgh ultimately scored on three of their four opportunities.
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The Penguins are a speedy team that likes scoring on the rush. The Caps are a heavier team and do not have the jets to match Pittsburgh. Despite that, Washington was drawn into a track meet early on and ended up trying to play a style of game that favored Pittsburgh. Washington is not going to win a track meet with the Penguins, but they allowed themselves to get drawn in.