The Capitals brought a 2-0 series lead with them to Carolina. It will return to Washington tied at 2.
The Caps looked much better on Thursday than in their disastrous Game 3 loss, but the result was still the same with Washington coming up short in a 2-1 defeat.
The series now turns to a best of three with Games 5 and 7 in Washington. Game 5 will take place on Saturday.
Here are three reasons Washington lost.
The first minute
After a brutal Game 3, getting off to a good start in Game 4 was a must. The Capitals did not do that.
If a defenseman decides to cheat up into the offensive zone, he has to have support. Matt Niskanen cheated up to close off the wall, but Carolina was able to get the puck out and the rush was on. Niskanen was playing catch up with Jaccob Slavin the entire rush. Justin Williams found Slavin who set up Warren Foegele for his third goal of the series. It came just 17 seconds into the game.
Just 36 seconds later, Jakub Vrana was whistled for charging Jordan Martinook, a horribly unnecessary penalty.
After their worst playoff game since 2013, Washington's initial response one minute into the game was to give up a goal and a penalty. Not ideal.
The final minute of the second period
Despite the brutal start, Washington settled in and was really the better team from midway in the first period through the entire second period. Alex Ovechkin tied the game at 1 on the power play and it looked like the Caps were finally back in control…until the final minute of the second.
As time ticked away in the period, Sebastian Aho had the puck in the neutral zone. He was pressured to the right side by Lars Eller and dropped the puck to Nino Niederreiter who was waiting at the blue line. Inexplicably, Brooks Orpik moved over to the side as well despite the fact that Dmitry Orlov was there in front of Niederreiter. That left the middle wide open. Niederreiter found a streak Teuvo Teravainen and Orpik, who was out of position caught on the wrong side, was not able to recover in time. Teravainen scored to put Carolina up 2-1.
Washington had been the better team the entire period but had nothing to show for it, giving up a goal with 27.9 seconds remaining in the second period. The Caps entered the period down one and left he period down one.
Caps fail to cash in on critical power play
Ovechkin's second period goal snapped a streak of 12-straight power plays without a goal. When handed a critical power play late in the game, however, Washington came up short.
Foegele took a boarding penalty as he cross-checked T.J. Oshie in the back sending him awkwardly into the boards with just over five minutes remaining in the game. With the chance to tie the game on arguably the most important power play of the series, Washington came up short with the extra man. Granted, the loss of Oshie certainly did not help. He did not return in the game.
The Caps finished with one goal on three power play opportunities. Not terrible, but with a chance to tie the game and take back control of the series late in the third, that's a goal you have to have.
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