WASHINGTON -- T.J. Oshie scored twice in the third period on Monday, but it wasn't enough in a 3-2 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights. Washington spotted Vegas a 3-0 lead after an awful first two periods. Oshie tried to put the team on his back in the final frame, but it was too little, too late.
Once again, Alex Ovechkin was held without a goal and remains stuck at 698.
Here is how Washington lost.
A bad start
Coming into Monday's game, the Caps had allowed the first goal in five straight games. You can make that six now as the trend continued on Monday.
Nick Holden got Vegas on the board less than four minutes into the game and Reilly Smith added a second goal late in the second period. Washington just did not look ready at the start.
Miss on one end, a goal on the other
There are several universal truths in the game of hockey and one of them is that if a team botches a big scoring chance on one end, it usually leads to a goal on the other. That was certainly the case on Monday as Oshie had a golden opportunity to tie the game at one late in the first, but missed an open net as he was falling to the ice. Vegas broke the puck out of the zone and on the resulting cycle, scored to make it 2-0.
Washington was not playing well at all to that point, but Oshie still had a chance to tie the game on his stick. It could have been a completely different game if he buried it. He could not capitalize, but the Golden Knights could as Smith made it 2-0.
Puck retrieval and management
This was the biggest problem for the Caps.
To put it simply, Vegas managed the puck well and beat out Washington for loose pucks in Caps' defensive end. When Washington actually did get possession, the team did not manage the puck well at all.
After a breakaway save by Holtby, Vegas managed to retain possession of the puck, set up the cycle and the resulting offensive rotation ended with Holden putting the puck into the back of the net from just outside the crease. On the second goal, Jonathan Marchessault carried the puck into the offensive zone and had a shot blocked by Dmitry Orlov. Marchessault immediately followed after his shot and retrieved the puck in the corner and fed it to the front to Smith who scored.
In the second period, William Karlsson stole the puck away from Radko Gudas behind the net. Gudas was trying to skate the puck out to Holtby's right so that's the post he was covering, Karlsson took the puck and quickly passed it to Max Pacioretty on Holtby's right who shot into the open net.
The Golden Knights had two early breakaways early thanks to stretch passes the Caps could not cover, Washington had trouble against the forecheck as the defense would wait too long to distribute the puck and the passing lanes would close up, the forwards would take too long to figure out what to do with the puck in the offensive zone resulting in turnovers, etc., etc., etc.
Defense can mean a lot of things and the team's inability to make good decisions with the puck, win puck battles in the defensive zone or properly distribute the puck when they did have possession was the real difference in Monday's loss.
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