WASHINGTON -- The Capitals returned home only to have their six-game winning streak snapped by a Columbus Blue Jackets team that had lost its last four.
Observations from the loss
The first period is in the running for worst of the season
Washington was outshot 20-6, could not get possession and could not get the puck out of the defensive zone. Things were getting comically bad as Michal Kempny accidentally shot the puck on his own net which forced a save from Braden Holtby and then a trip as he tried to keep Pierre-Luc Dubois from getting to the loose puck. Later in the period, Gustav Nyquist got a breakaway chance when Jakub Vrana basically passed the puck right to him.
Why was it so bad? Maybe it was the jet lag, maybe the Caps came into this one thinking they would have an easy time against a bad team or maybe it was just one of those nights. Regardless, it was bad. While Washington played better as the game went along, that first period really set the tone for the entire 60 minutes.
Holtby was the only reason the Caps were in this game
The Caps will likely have to choose between Holtby and Ilya Samsonov in the offseason as their goalie of the future. Because of that, some fans are already drawing lines in the sand and declaring themselves for Team Holtby or Team Samsonov. Those Holtby detractors take every opportunity to declare every bad game as Holtby’s fault, but that was just not the case on Monday.
Holtby was the only thing, the only thing keeping Washington in this game.
Holtby made 33 saves for the game, 19 of which came in just the first period alone. The third goal Holtby allowed was soft as he showed Riley Nash too much daylight off the post allowing Nash to bank the puck off him and in, but besides that, it was a really strong game for the Caps' netminder overall.
The third line showed signs of life but remains a work in progress
Coming into this game, Carl Hagelin, Lars Eller, and Richard Panik had played less than 24 minutes together at 5-on-5 this season. Having a full lineup back, Reirden was able to utilize this line and the results were good. They ultimately did not produce any points, but the line looked very good to start and it looks like there is potential there.
"They did some good things," Reirden said. "I thought early on they were probably one of our better lines to start the game. They were the group that was giving us some offense and giving us some possession time and I thought executing at probably the highest level."
Look, I know many fans out there are done with Panik already, but give him time to actually play on the line he was signed to play with. The Caps have banked a ton of points and sit first in the entire NHL. They have the flexibility to experiment with the third line and see if that trio can build some chemistry together.
Keep an eye on the home record
The loss drops Washington's home record to 8-3-4 for the season. Not terrible, but not great either especially when compared to their 14-2-1 record on the road. I'm not ready to think there is something wrong with theCaps at home yet, but this is something that is worth monitoring.
The Caps had nothing going for them through 40 minutes, but it would not be the first time they were able to rally from a multi-goal deficit in the third period to get the win. Heck, I'm not sure people would even be surprised by it anymore. When Alex Ovechkin scored less than a minute into the third, my gut reaction was OK, here we go. Here comes the rally.
Nash's goal put an end to all of that when he was able to bank the puck in off of Holtby from behind the goal line. At that point, you knew the game was over.
Play of the game
On the first period breakaway Nyquist received courtesy of Vrana, Nyquist tried to beat Holtby with the backhand through the 5-hole. The Caps' netminder recovered well and swept out the pads to deny him the goal. Had Washington come back to make a game of this one, this save would have been one of the pivotal moments of the game.
Beast blocks the breakaway pic.twitter.com/Nkgr11iqtJ— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) December 10, 2019
Stat of the game
Congratulations to Craig "Woody" Leydig!
Quote of the game
Reirden on what went wrong in the first period:
"There wasn't a whole lot going right. That was, to me, one of our worst two periods of the year."
5-2.. Im changing from earlier 4-2. Ov gets 1 atleast hes been cold last 2-3& due. Backy gets pt(s) in return— WiseBeyondMyYears (@sports_god1) December 9, 2019
You got the score right, Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom both had one goal and one assist. I'm pretty sure you meant that the Caps were going to win though so you didn't nail this one as much as it looks like you did.
I’ll try to build on my Anaheim success with this prediction: 5-1. Ovechkin x 2 and then 3 goals from the 3rd line (!).— Thor Jensen (@TRJensen22) December 9, 2019
Umm...just a narrow miss there.
8 will five goals and the redskins will major announcement— big mike v (@MichaelJBenelli) December 9, 2019
Go home Mike, you're drunk.
MORE CAPITALS NEWS: