The Capitals carried a 4-2 lead into the final frame but gave up four goals in the third period en route to a 6-5 loss to the Nashville Predators on Thursday, their first regulation loss of the season.

Alex Ovechkin scored two goals on the power play, but it wasn't enough as the Caps coughed up the lead four different times.

Observations from the loss

Coughing up leads are a problem

The Caps took the lead four different times in this game. Four times. They held a two-goal lead in the third period. They even battled back once Nashville tied it at four. But Washington could not build on the momentum and it could not protect the lead.


This marks the third straight game the Caps have coughed up the lead in the third period. It’s still early in the season, but that is a troubling trend.

On Tuesday against the Dallas Stars, the problem was that Washington completely took their foot off the gas. They did not get a shot on goal against Dallas until the period was halfway over. In this game, they weren’t holding back, but it was frantic back-and-forth hockey. That is not how this team plays offensively. That feeds into Nashville’s game and it was Nashville that was able to take advantage.

Sloppy, sloppy

The Predators’ first goal came off a Jakub Vrana turnover. The second goal came when Radko Gudas pinched too far up at the offensive blue line when Nashville had the puck, which the Predators turned into a 2-on-1. The third goal was a power-play goal. The fourth goal was a Brendan Leipsic defensive zone turnover.


You get the idea.

The Caps were their own worst enemy on Thursday.

This is how Carlson should play the power play

Penalty killers know what the Caps want to do. It’s not a secret. They want to get Ovechkin the puck in the office for the one-timer. If you know it’s coming, you cheat to him and get in front of him. But what if you don’t know it’s coming? Carlson is a good player, you just can’t leave him free to do what he wants.

There were too many times earlier in the season where Carlson would get the puck and quickly feed it over to Ovechkin where the penalty kill was waiting. The two goals on Thursday came because Carlson froze the penalty kill. The first time he paused and looked like he was searching for the pass. The defense cheated away from Ovechkin leaving him wide open. The second goal was a fake slap shot from Carlson which froze the PK and again left Ovechkin open.

When teams have to account for Carlson, it gives Ovechkin more room to work.

The third line is fine

This was our first chance to see Carl Hagelin, Lars Eller and Richard Panik together on the third line. They looked very good early on, a good mix of speed and skill. The forecheck from that line caused Washington’s first goal of the game as it generated two offensive-zone turnovers which Eller put in the back of the net.

Todd Reirden is pissed

You don’t see Reirden get angry too often. When Nashville tied the game at 4 in the third period, he called a timeout and tore into the team. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen him that angry.

A common criticism of Reirden last season was that he wouldn’t take it to the team when he needed to, but that wasn’t the case in Nashville.

Turning point

The Caps came into the third period with a 4-2 lead. Ryan Johansen made it a one-goal game with a power play and just one minute after that, Matt Duchene tied the game at 4.

Filip Forsberg carried the puck into the offensive zone, but was defended well by Nick Jensen and Brendan Leipsic who forced him to the boards and he coughed up the puck. Leipsic grabbed it, cleared it, the Caps went on to win and there was much rejoicing.

Except that didn’t happen.

Leipsic held onto the puck too long in the face of pressure from Mikael Granlund and turned it over. Granlund fed it to Forsberg who fed Duchene and suddenly a game the Caps looked like they had control of was tied.

Play of the night

Ovechkin nutmegged Granlund then deked around Josi to draw the penalty. On a night in which he scored two goals, this play outshone both of them.


Stat of the night

Ovechkin’s first goal was his first-ever point against goalie Pekka Rinne. His two power play goals were the 248th and 249th of his career moving him ahead of Luc Robitaille for fourth place all-time in power play goals.

OK, that’s two stats, but those are both pretty amazing.

Quote of the night

“It’s time for us to put together a 60-minute effort here. You can’t win hockey games with only one period here and there. That’s not acceptable.” - Nicklas Backstrom

Fan predictions

Well, you were wrong. Ovechkin scored twice, but it still wasn’t enough.

Nailed it.

You were definitely right, but I doubt you thought you would be right four times.

The Mystics won by 11 so...still wrong.