The Capitals tied the game with just three seconds left to go in regulation with a Conor Sheary goal, but the good feelings didn't last long as the Chicago Blackhawks quickly scored an overtime winner on Wednesday.
Washington's 5-4 loss dropped it to 17-5-7 on the season, including 0-6 in the five-minute overtime period. The Capitals are 2-1 in the shootout this season, but three-on-three play hasn't been kind to them.
The Capitals got center Nicklas Backstrom (hip) in the lineup for the first time this season, but the Blackhawks spoiled the night for his first game of the season.
Washington will head to Winnipeg next for a Friday night matchup.
Here are a few takeaways from Wednesday’s game in Chicago:
Overtime once again
The Capitals went past regulation for the fourth time in their last six games, but overtime was once again unkind as Caleb Jones scored the winner just 1:21 into the extra period.
Despite a strong regulation record, the Capitals are now 2-7 past regulation this season, with both wins coming in the shootout.
A late blown lead
The Capitals took a season-high six penalties against the Blackhawks, and it was the final one that cost them the most.
After they rallied from 3-1 down, the Capitals allowed a goal on the powerplay -- the Blackhawks' third man-advantage strike of the night -- to give Chicago a 4-3 lead. The Capitals were able to rally once again to tie it, but the damage had been done.
Alex DeBrincat had two powerplay goals, both very similar in nature, as the Capitals' third powerplay goal allowed (also a season-high) was too much for the team to overcome on a night where they couldn't afford many mistakes.
Nicklas Backstrom returns to the lineup
The Capitals got perhaps their most welcome news of the season when No. 19 returned to the lineup Wednesday against the Blackhawks. Backstrom had been recovering from a hip injury and hadn’t played in a game since the team’s loss to the Bruins in Game 5 in the first round of the playoffs last season. That game was on May 23.
His return to the lineup came about one-third of the way into the season, as the team’s leading point-getter from a year ago gave the team a much-needed boost as they battle through injury and COVID problems throughout the lineup.
And, naturally, he assisted on the powerplay goal for Alex Ovechkin that tied him for first in NHL history with man-advantage tallies.
Alex Ovechkin ties powerplay goals record
It’s much more fun to pretend that Ovechkin simply waited until his longtime running mate returned to the lineup to tie the powerplay goals record.
With an early tally in the second period, Ovechkin tied Dave Andreychuk’s all-time record of 274 man-advantage goals as he continued his ascension up the all-time goals list by etching his name into the record book in another way.
The goal was just Ovechkin’s fifth on the powerplay this season, a bit of a surprising clip considering how Ovechkin has made his name scoring goals throughout his career. But Wednesday, he inched closer to officially being recognized as the game’s best-ever power play scorer.
Three goals in 34 seconds
After Ovechkin’s goal, the Capitals held a lead for about 10 minutes in the second. Then they committed two penalties and the floodgates opened.
Chicago scored on the two-man advantage, on a 5-on-4 powerplay and then at even strength all in 34 seconds to give the Blackhawks a 3-1 lead in the blink of an eye. Despite a strong start in The Windy City, the Capitals’ lead disappeared like smoke in the wind.
Evgeny Kuznetsov absent due to COVID protocol
For the good news the Capitals got with the return of Backstrom, Nic Dowd and Trevor van Riemsdyk, they got some bad news earlier in the day when they had to place Evgeny Kuznetsov in COVID protocol.
Kuznetsov’s trip to the COVID list means he has now been in protocols three times in 2021. Both stints prior to Wednesday happened last year, but the Capitals will now be without their best center up to this point in the second. In 28 games this year, Kuznetsov has 30 points as the team’s top line center.