Capitals

Capitals lose 3-2 in Wild shootout affair

Capitals
© Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

It was a tad (OK, very) unorthodox, but the Capitals suffered a weird loss to the Wild in Minnesota on Saturday.

The Capitals put three pucks in the net against the Wild, but still lost 3-2.

How is that possible? Here are takeaways from a weird night at Xcel Energy Center:

Overtime a problem once again 

The Capitals dropped to .500 in the shootout this season with a 2-0 loss in the extra period. 

The team is now 2-9 overall this season past regulation, a record that stings a bit more considering the Capitals were mere seconds away from earning a 2-1 win on the road. A Wild goal at 19:25 ended those chances. 

An empty-net debacle

For many watching in person and on television, it was the first time they’d ever seen a team score a goal without registering a shot on net. The puck didn’t even start in the scoring team’s offensive zone.

As the Wild floundered in the second and committed one of their four penalties, the Capitals pulled netminder Zach Fucale to get a six-on-five advantage during the delayed call. It resulted in disaster. 

Carl Hagelin's pass, intended for Evgeny Kuznetsov, got behind everyone and slid helplessly into an open Capitals net on the other end of the ice, as their own goal clinched one of the weirder moments of the season to this point. Marcus Foligno was credited with the goal for the Wild, but only because someone had to be. And as the last person to touch the puck, he earned the point. 

 

Fucale shines again

Fucale kept the Wild off the board for nearly all of regulation — at least when he stood between the pipes. But because of the unique own goal in the second period while Fucale was on the bench, only one of the Wild goals was counted against him.

Early in the second period, he earned the longest shutout streak to start a career in NHL history.

He stopped 21 of 22 Wild shots on the night, following up on a shutout performance against the Detroit Red Wings in November and a relief appearance the night prior against the St. Louis Blues. In the opening seconds of overtime, he made a fantastic diving save to keep the game alive for Washington. 

It's apparent at this point that Capitals fans haven't seen the last of Fucale. 

McMichael finds scoresheet

A night after being scratched, Connor McMichael put the Capitals up 1-0 in the second period against the Wild, as the rookie earned a much-needed goal. 

His deflection goal was his fifth of the season as he drew back into the lineup. He now has 10 points in 33 games this year. 

With the Capitals slowly getting healthier, McMichael’s play will be something to watch over the next few games and weeks as there will be a few tough lineup decisions for coach Peter Laviolette. 

Power play powering up?

If there was a unit on the Capitals that needed a goal, it was unquestionably the power play. 

In the second period, they got one as Evgeny Kuznetsov scored to put the team up 2-0. It was the team’s first power play goal since New Year’s Eve against the Red Wings and just the third in the last 14 games. 

Kuznetsov’s tally meant the struggling unit had someone other than Alex Ovechkin score a goal on the man-advantage for the first time since Nov. 28 and had a forward other than Ovechkin score for the first time since Nov. 14.

There are still areas to grow, which will certainly be aided by Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie’s return to the lineup in due time, but the fact that the unit scored was much-needed.