Caps cough up 2-goal lead in OT loss to Red Wings


Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov gave the Capitals a 2-0 lead, but the Detroit Red Wings scored three unanswered goals to defeat Washington 3-2 in overtime on Wednesday.

The Caps now hold a 4-0-3 record on the season and have lost all three games in which they have gone to overtime. Washington has yet to lose in regulation.

Here are some observations from the loss.

Power play remains a mixed bag

The Caps entered Wednesday's game with the 23rd-ranked power play in the league scoring at 14.3%. After starting the season with three power play goals on six opportunities in the opener against the New York Rangers, Washington went 0-for-15 and had not scored on the extra man since in five straight games.

But with two power play goals on Wednesday, it's problem solved, right? Not quite.

Ovechkin's goal came on a great second effort. He was set up nicely by Lars Eller and shot the puck initially right into Thomas Greiss. Ovechkin got the rebound while down on one knee and bonked it off of Greiss' head into the net. The second power play goal came right off a faceoff as Kuznetsov swooped in to shoot a loose puck right off the draw.

In a 2-2 game in the third period, however, Ovechkin drew a hook from Michael Rasmussen. With a chance to take the lead back, the power play came up short as the unit struggled to get the puck into the offensive zone after an initial clear.

The Caps have too much skill to be shut down forever, but breaking the puck into the offensive zone remains a problem. Washington has a great setup and great skill, but when the puck gets cleared, this unit really struggles to get it back in.


A defensive breakdown

Detroit's first goal came off a defensive breakdown from the Caps when they were caught puck watching in the defensive zone.

Justin Schultz, Connor McMichael and T.J. Oshie were battling on the boards in the defensive zone. Trevor van Riemsdyk and Anthony Mantha were in front of the net, but both began drifting more towards the puck as the board battle continued. Neither player saw Filip Hronek behind them. When the puck finally came free, Vladislav Namestnikov found Hronek wide-open. He drew Vitek Vanecek out of the crease as he deked, then threw the puck back in front from behind the goal line. Adam Erne scored the slam-dunk goal from there.

A mixed bag for the 2nd line

The Mantha, McMichael and Oshie line was on the ice for both of Detroit's regulation goals and each player finished a minus-2. The Erne goal was a breakdown and Robby Fabbri's game-tying goal in the second came because the Caps lost multiple loose puck battles in the offensive zone as the entire line was just outworked by the Red Wings. Tough game, right? Analytically, not so much.

Despite the minus-2, the line actually finished with a 61.11 Corsi percentage. This was not a result of sheltering the line either as they had only 50% offensive zone faceoffs.

So was this just an unlucky night or are the analytics misleading? Should Peter Laviolette stick with that line or switch it around?

Never seen that before

In the third period, Kuznetsov tried to carry the puck into the offensive zone, but was pushed up against the boards. Suddenly, as he passed the Red Wings bench, he dropped to the ice with his hands covering his face. On replay, you could see that Kuznetsov hit a stick that was being held out by Detroit's trainer for Dylan Larkin whose stick had been broken on the shift.

I have never seen that before and don't think I will again. Kuznetsov was fine and was on the ice for his next shift.

Gretzky watch

Ovechkin's goal was his eighth of the season in just seven games. He now leads the league.

The goal was also the 738th goal of Ovechkin's career, pulling him to within three goals of Brett Hull who sits fourth all time.