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Capitals see series lead evaporate after narrow Game 4 loss

Capitals see series lead evaporate after narrow Game 4 loss

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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3 players who stood out in playoff rematch against the Hurricanes: Samsonov gets the full game and the win

3 players who stood out in playoff rematch against the Hurricanes: Samsonov gets the full game and the win

WASHINGTON -- In a reversal of last season’s playoff, the Capitals dominant forecheck suffocated the Carolina Hurricanes for much of the game on Friday in a 3-2 preseason win. The game was the final preseason game in Washington as the Caps’ three remaining contests all will come on the road.

Here are three players who impressed in the home preseason finale.

Ilya Samsonov

Samsonov faced only 15 shots from a clearly outmatched Hurricanes roster, but he looked impressive in the few times he was tested. The save of the night came in the second period when he denied Julien Gauthier on a breakaway.

Gauthier attempted the old Peter Forsberg move and skated to his right while trying to craftily tuck the puck in to the left. Samsonov slid with Gauthier, but stuck out his stick to deny the shot and make the tremendous save.

Samsonov continued to demonstrate his comfort playing the puck with his stick as he also denied a scoring opportunity with a well-timed poke check and was always quick to play the puck when it came behind the goal line.

One area in which he was not comfortable was the glove. There were multiple occasions in which he was able to get a glove on the puck, but was not able to catch it creating dangerous opportunities for Carolina’s offense.

The Hurricanes managed only seven shots on goal through the first two periods, but managed some more pressure in the third. The shutout bid was ended in the third when Brock McGinn followed up his own rebound to score Carolina’s first goal of the game. The second goal came on a fluky bounce off the backboards that Janne Kuokkanen was able to whack behind Samsonov before he could get a glove to it.

While Todd Reirden likely hoped Samsonov would be more tested than he was, he was up to the task with 13 saves.

Brian Pinho

The Caps recorded three goals on the night and Pinho had two of them.  In the first period, Axel Jonsson-Fjallby created a turnover on the forecheck. Feeling the pressure, Fredrik Claesson tried a hopeful clear that was cut off at the blue line by Pinho who skated in and tucked the puck through the 5-hole of goalie Anton Forsberg. He scored again in the third period on the power play when his shot deflected off of Jake Bean and took a favorable bounce up before dropping into the net.

Pinho led the Capitals with five points in three games at the 2019 Prospect Showcase, but at 24 years old, he would be expected to play well. He faced slightly better competition on Saturday and still was able to produce with two goals on the night.

Richard Panik

One of the newest Caps, Panik has looked extremely comfortable in both of his preseason games thus far. He was again strong on the penalty kill where he logged 1:35 of ice time. He also looked strong offensively.

Panik played very heavy below the goal line which suits the Caps’ offensive cycle the team likes to utilize. He also showed good vision as, in the third period, he was able to fight off a check and literally kicked the puck out to a wide-open Tavis Boyd in the slot.

With Panik and Carl Hagelin together, the Caps should have a much more formidable penalty kill this season.

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How to watch: Capitals vs. Hurricanes preseason Game 3

How to watch: Capitals vs. Hurricanes preseason Game 3

The Washington Capitals remain undefeated in preseason play, thanks to Tom Wilson's clutch overtime goal and a Nicklas Backstrom bouncing saucer-pass-turned-shot

Saturday night, the Caps will get their first crack at the Carolina Hurricanes, who knocked them out in the first round of the playoffs last season. This game is also the first one that comes after the Caps whittled their roster down after the first round of cuts, which included Caps 2019 draft picks Connor McMichael and Aliaksei Protas.

The Caps will face the Hurricanes in the regular season on October 5 at Capital One Arena in their home opener.

CAPITALS-HURRICANES PRESEASON GAME 3: HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals vs. Carolina Hurricanes

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: Saturday, September, 21, 7:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Capitals-Hurricanes preseason game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Hurricanes preseason game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

Radio: Caps Radio 24/7

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