The Capitals went into Anaheim looking for an easy win against the lowly Ducks. Instead, Washington was laid low in a 5-2 loss Sunday by a team that had lost eight of its previous nine games.
Alex Ovechkin scored his 40th goal of the season to give the Caps a 1-0 lead, but Anaheim outplayed Washington for most of the night in what was a dominant performance. A Ducks offense that had only managed five total goals in their last six games erupted for five against Braden Holtby. This was the first time since Dec. 12 that Anaheim scored five or more goals.
Here are four reasons the Caps lost.
Two breakaway saves
The Caps had a 1-0 lead at the end of the first period and looked like they were going to extend that with an early breakaway from Alex Ovechkin in the second period. Goalie Ryan Miller was there to make the nice toe save, however, to deny Ovechkin. Just a few minutes later it was Nicklas Backstrom who was in alone and tried to beat Miller 5-hole, but Miller squeezed the pads to deny him.
Instead of taking a 2-0 or 3-0 lead, the Caps walked away with no goals on either breakaway. Not long after, Adam Henrique tied the game as he deflected in a shot from Brandon Montour.
You have to take advantage of your opportunities, Washington didn’t and allowed the Ducks to come back. If the Caps take a 2-0 lead, this is a completely different game.
The worst defensive breakdown you will ever see
Jakob Silfverberg put Anaheim up 2-1 with one of the easiest goals he is going to score in his career. With the puck in the Caps’ defensive zone, Hampus Lindholm won the puck on a board battle and passed to Silfverberg who was in front of Holtby. There were no other Caps within the city limits near Silfverberg, he was literally in front of Holtby all by himself.
One player was late to the play off a line change, Alex Ovechkin was near the blue line looking for the breakout while three players, including both defensemen John Carlson and Michal Kempny, were on the boards fighting for the puck. Literally, no one was covering the front of the net.
Silfverberg took the puck and surprisingly passed it back out to a trailing Henrique. Henrique still got to the puck before any Caps and both he and Silfverberg were behind the defense. Henrique began drifting to Holtby’s right, then passed to Silfverberg on Holtby’s left for the slam dunk.
A mad scramble at the start of the third
Despite the horrendous defensive breakdown, John Carlson responded about three minutes later to tie the game before the end of the period. With the score tied at 2, both teams had a chance to take control heading into the third. Anaheim took advantage, Washington did not.
Henrique scored his second goal of the night just 37 seconds into the game off a mad scramble in front of the net. The puck sat right in front of Holtby, but the Caps could not clear it. Holtby did what he could to keep it out, but tried to reach to freeze the puck and that’s when Henrique tapped it underneath him.
Yeah, so these are still a problem. Washington was called for four straight minor penalties in this game. To make matters worse, an Anaheim power play that ranked 29th in the NHL scored on two of their four power play opportunities, both in the third period. Henrique’s game-winner and Corey Perry’s insurance goal put Anaheim up 4-2.
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