Caps know extra point lost in Leafs defeat could sting

Vitek Vanecek

With each time the Leafs extended Sunday’s game, it stung the Capitals a little more. 

First, the Leafs came back from a two-goal deficit in the final minutes to tie the game at three. Then, the Capitals failed to convert on a four-on-three power play in overtime as the Leafs pushed the night to a shootout. And finally, the dagger came when Alexander Kerfoot buried the shootout winner in a 4-3 Capitals loss

The Capitals earned a point, and with the Penguins’ loss Sunday afternoon to the Flyers, control their own destiny if they want to avoid being the second wild card team in the playoffs. But that lost point could very well come back and bite them when the season concludes on Friday. 

“Just a terrible last eight minutes of the game or nine, 10 minutes of the game there,” T.J. Oshie said. “We're getting pretty close here to where that's not going to cut it. I think we're pretty upset about it. I think we just didn't expect ourselves to give away a two-goal lead to a team that played last night, no matter how good they are, how offensive they are.”

With the shootout loss, the Capitals (100 points) guaranteed they cannot pass the Bruins (103 points) by virtue of a tiebreaker. Meaning, they are essentially four points behind with three games left to play and will need some help to reach the first wild card spot. 


Washington now trails Pittsburgh by just a point, with a game in hand as well. If the Capitals win out, the Penguins will be relegated to the wild card spot. 

All of the standings math, though, would look a lot more friendly for the Capitals if they’d finished the Leafs in the game’s final stretch. 

"We had the game under control, I think we were the better team for the most part of this game,” Marcus Johansson said. “I think we shouldn't let off the gas just because we're up 3-1, I think we should keep playing the same way. There's going to be mistakes at any given point in games, but can't stop playing, but you've got to play the right way. It's better it happened now than in a week, but it's a frustrating loss. I think we all wanted this one. We'll learn from it and move on."

In more concerning news for the Capitals, they lost captain Alex Ovechkin in the third period with an upper-body injury. He didn’t return to the game. But with that in mind, a victory without a 50-goal scorer available to play would’ve been a lot sweeter.

“I think me and JoJo both, we've done that in the postseason and as bad as this one feels, it feels 10 times worse when you do it the postseason,” Oshie said. “I think it's a super good learning experience for us here that what we did in those first 50 minutes, plus or minus a couple, was good. Maybe it's a good thing to happen, and now we can learn from how we didn't close out the game tonight.”

Postgame, the Capitals expressed positivity that the blown lead will serve as a good lesson to learn with the playoffs a week away. The problem now is that the lesson might show itself in the standings in just a few days, where a lost point could sting.

“I don't know if that lesson ever feels good, you know?” Laviolette said. “It doesn't feel good today. We'll get better from it, but right now it stings.”