WASHINGTON -- The Capitals hoped to end a magical 2018 on a high note, but instead, they fell prey to the Nashville Predators 6-3 on Monday. Washington led 2-0 and 3-1, but gave up four unanswered goals as the Predators brought the Caps' four-game win streak to an end.
Here are five reasons the Caps lost.
1. Quick Responses:
Washington looked in control through the first half of the game, but they were not able to shake the Predators. After the Caps took a 2-0 lead in the first period, Rocco Grimaldi made it 3-1 just 23 seconds later. When Chandler Stephenson gave Washington the 3-1 lead, Nashville again responded with a goal from Miikka Salomaki just 95 seconds later.
The Caps initially were the better team, but the Predators never allowed them to build on their lead. Instead, they did just enough to stick around until they took control in the second period.
2. No Control of the Slot:
All four of Nashville’s goals came from close in front of goalie Braden Holtby. Grimaldi’s tip-in goal came very close in on net with no Cap anywhere close to him. Salomaki fed Nick Bonino right on the doorstep, Bonino fed it back to Salomaki for the easy tap-in. Both players were behind the Caps’ defense. Ryan Johansen tied the game at three as he pounced on a soft rebound by Holtby before anyone else could get to it. Nashville took the lead towards the end of the second as Grimaldi cut to the center and fired a shot on Holtby and Frederick Gaudreau got his stick on it in the slot to chip it over the shoulder of Holtby.
That’s two rebound goals against Holtby which you do not usually see given how great he is at rebound control, but tonight when he needed the help, the defense was not able to box the Predators out from in front of the net and they seemed to lose all the battles close to Holtby.
3. A 4:33 Stretch in the Second:
The second period saw the Predators score three unanswered goals to turn a 3-1 deficit into a 4-3 lead. It took them just 4:33. Salomaki’s goal came at the 9:57 mark of the second period. That was the real turning point as Nashville never looked back. Just over two minutes later, Johansen tied the game at three and less than three minutes after that, Gaudreau gave Nashville the lead for the first time in front of a stunned Capital One Arena.
Erasing a two-goal deficit twice in this game was deflating enough for Washington. The quick succession in which the Predators were able to take the lead was a real punch to the gut for the Caps and they never seemed to recover.
4. Third Period Insurance:
What’s worse than giving up three unanswered goals? Giving up five. After taking the 4-3 lead, Nashville weathered an early period Caps’ flurry in the third including Washington’s first (and only) power play of the game. Then midway into the third, Viktor Arvidsson was able to feed the puck ty Johansen despite getting rubbed out into the boards creating a break in for Nashville. Johansen dropped the puck off to Ryan Ellis and he rifled the shot from the faceoff circle to extend the Predators’ lead to two.
Any hope of a comeback came to an end when Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov both took minor penalties late in the third giving Nashville a full two-minute two-man advantage which Viktor Arvidsson took advantage of to make the score 6-3.
5. The Drought Continues:
Alex Ovechkin's goal drought reached six games as he was again blanked on Monday. The Caps' top line of Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie has not scored an even-strength goal since Dec. 15 when Ovechkin recorded a tally against Buffalo.
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