The Capitals got five pucks past Henrik Lundqvist, but only one past the post in a 4-1 loss to the New York Rangers on Wednesday.
Observations from the loss
Feeling the losses
You always hear in sports "next man up," but clearly the Caps were struggling to overcome all the players missing from their lineup. Nicklas Backstrom, Carl Hagelin, Nic Dowd and Garnet Hathaway were all out and that was just too many losses to overcome. Mike Sgarbossa and Beck Malenstyn did not look out of place at all, but the team just looked out of sync.
Hagelin, Dowd and Hathaway have all logged a lot of time on the penalty kill this season and Artemi Panarin scored two power play goals. That was no coincidence.
Not quite 2018 Kuznetsov
Evgeny Kuznetsov scored the Caps' lone goal on the night, showed some fancy stick work and generally had a good game. But on a night when the team was without Backstrom and needed him to be one of the best players on the ice, he was not able to take over the game the same way he was in the 2018 postseason.
Kuznetsov has certainly played better this season than last, but I think it is fair to say his play is still not at that level that we know he can reach.
Good performance from Beck Malenstyn
Malenstyn stood out in the preseason and he did again on Wednesday in his NHL debut. In 9:43 of ice time, he recorded three shots on goal and had another two missed attempts. He had two scoring opportunities including a short breakaway on Henrik Lundqvist. He may have a future as a bottom-six, most likely fourth line player in the NHL.
Defense is a weak spot
The Caps were out of sync on offense which is understandable with all the losses. But there is really no excuse for a mistake like this:
5 white jerseys in the corner. Not how you are supposed to play in the defensive zone. pic.twitter.com/goYpM4XZqZ— JJ Regan (@JJReganNBCS) November 21, 2019
This was not a case of a miscommunication with some of the new additions to the lineup either. Here are the Caps players who were on the ice: Nick Jensen, Michal Kempny, Alex Ovechkin, Tom Wilson and Kuznetsov. You can't blame this on Malenstyn or Sgarbossa.
A 1-0 deficit heading into the third period? Caps laugh at one-goal deficits. Washington started the third period on the penalty kill, killed it off, but Dmitry Orlov was called for high-sticking just 40 seconds later. Back on the power play, Artemi Panarin scored his second of the night to make it 2-0 and put the Caps in a real hole.
Play of the night
If you give Kuznetsov this much room on the power play, even he is not going to turn down that shot.
the precision 🎯 pic.twitter.com/h7n1d1lbo4— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) November 21, 2019
The goal was great and all, but the actual best moment of the night came in the second period and had all the feels.
Military reunions will never, ever get old. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/InPm5MFUGb— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) November 21, 2019
Stat of the night
The Caps beat Henrik Lundqvist five times on Wednesday, but only managed to get one past the post. Washington hit the post four times and that was the difference between winning a losing as the Caps fell 4-1.
And of course, the nightly John Carlson stat:
John Carlson earned an assist on Kuznetsov's goal, his 28th assist in his 24th game this season. He is now tied with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl for the NHL lead in assists.— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) November 21, 2019
Quote of the night
Malenstyn did not just play in his first NHL game on Wednesday, it was at Madison Square Garden, one of the most iconic arenas in the world. Yeah, Malenstyn had a few nerves beforehand:
"I was just trying not to puke."
Also, Hathaway spoke with the media following the game and said he will not appeal his three-game suspension:
"It was tough to swallow because I want to be out there with the guys. you know, I felt helpless tonight and I let the guys down in the room and I let the organization down. in the end, I respect the league's decision and I had a fair opportunity to explain my side of things and how I saw the events unfold and you know I don't plan on appealing anything. In my view, it was a hectic situation. Coming out of a fight there was a second, third and fourth man that came in and I got sucker-punched a few times and I let my emotions take over. I had an emotional reaction that I regret and I wish it didn't happen. No one regrets it or is more disappointed than I am."
No player will spit on another player.— Samuel (@CAPSnotPENS) November 20, 2019
I'm jumping on the radko goal train! 🚂— Micah Reed (@reedallab0utit) November 21, 2019
It is going to be one hell of a night when Gudas finally does it.
Top line comes up big tonight! 4 combined points... and 1 goal and 1 assist for Carlson!— Stephen (@Steve_purcell32) November 21, 2019
Ovi dueling hat tricks tonight with Breadman. Think we see a lot of goals for some reason tonight. Book it ! 🏒 #WednesdayNightHockey— 📬 Jimmy Milstead (@MilyVanilly) November 21, 2019
The offense just could not beat Lundqvist or the post in this one.
I’m feeling Kuzy tonight on the NYC stage— Alexandra Sedor (@allie74) November 21, 2019
Had the Caps' lone goal!
One of the recalls gets a goal.— Rob Smith (@robsmith46) November 21, 2019
Malenstyn came really close twice.
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