There are two ways to look at the Caps’ 5-4 overtime loss Sunday to the Detroit Red Wings. On the one hand, they played a disastrous second period in which Detroit scored three times to take a 4-1 lead. Washington took two penalties and managed only two shots on goal in those 20 minutes. On the other hand, the Caps battle back from a three-goal deficit to tie the game in the third period and steal away a point that looked like it was well out of reach. It showed resiliency and determination. Getting one point is a moral victory of sorts after it looked as if they were going to walk away with the regulation loss.
After the game, however, it was clear the Caps did not want to see the positives of the loss.
“We've got to change our starts,” Nicklas Backstrom said. “We've got to be able to put together 60 minutes almost night in, night out. Can't just play good 20, play bad for 60. It's tough like that.”
When he met with the media following the game, Barry Trotz was asked if he was angry about the second period or happy about battling back to earn a point. He did not hesitate with his answer.
“Angry about the second period,” he said.
The Caps absolutely should be angry over what happened on Sunday. In the final game before a four-game road trip, Washington managed only a point against Detroit team that ranks fourth in the Atlantic Division and is well outside the playoff race. Heading into Sunday’s game, the Red Wings had lost three straight including a 7-6 overtime loss to the New York Islanders after allowing the Islanders five goals in the third period.
This is a game the Caps should have won, but they gave it away in the second period and they knew it.
“That was the worst [period] of the year by far,” Brett Connolly said of the middle frame. “Guys were not happy in between periods.”
“We got a point maybe we didn't deserve,” Trotz said. “We took a period off.”
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The anger reflects a team with lofty goals and expectations of the season.
There is no such thing as a moral victory in professional sports. You win or you lose, period. But, depending on context, some teams will find more positives in a loss than others.
If the Arizona Coyotes had lost Sunday’s game, chances are they would have stressed the comeback a bit more than what happened in the second period.
Washington, however, is not Arizona. This is a team fighting to remain in first place of the Metropolitan Division and thinking about how they can be successful in the playoffs. Battling back from a 4-1 deficit to lose in overtime is still a loss to them and not something to be satisfied with.
“Just can't start like that,” Brett Connolly said. “We can't be coming back three goals. They definitely deserved to win and that's it.”