The Capitals were shutout for the first time since Dec. 16 as they failed to build off their two-game win streak. Connor Hellebuyck was tough to beat, but did the Caps do enough to get to him?
Observations from the loss
This team has to play physically to win
If you want to know the importance of physical play, compare this game to the last few the Caps have played. The Caps did not dictate the physical play in this game nearly as much as they had in their last two wins and it was very noticeable. You have to take the "hit totals" with a grain of salt because it varies from building to building, but in this game the Caps out-hit Winnipeg 17-16. On Tuesday, Washington led in hits 25-17. In Tuesday's win, the Caps used the physical play to dictate the game as they jumped out to a 3-0 lead. They just did not do that at all on Thursday.
Make life difficult for the goalie
Give all the credit in the world to Hellebuyck, he was great. He was on his game and seeing the puck really well. When that happens, the Caps have got to make life more difficult for him. It felt like there was not enough traffic in front of Hellebuyck and not enough battling to win rebounds. It was going to take an ugly goal to beat him and it looked like the Caps could not deliver that. You can't always win with skill, sometimes you have to get dirty.
Down 1-0 late in the second period, Washington got its first power play of the game when Neal Pionk was called for hooking Alex Ovechkin. Just three seconds after Pionk's penalty expired, Anthony Bitetto was caught hooking Ilya Kovalchuk giving the Caps almost four continuous minutes of power play time. Washington could not take advantage and suddenly when the team headed into the locker room it was clear Hellebuyck was going to be tough to beat.
Play of the game
Hellebuyck was great, but the save of the night came from Ilya Samsonov when he denied Jack Roslovic with the toe.
spectacular save by Sammy pic.twitter.com/zB2Vu5C0KB— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) February 28, 2020
Stat of the game
Hellebuyck's performance overshadowed what Samsonov was able to do, but he had a solid night overall as well.
Ilya Samsonov stopped 29 of 31 shots (.935 save percentage), his highest single-game save percentage in his last seven starts, which spans back to Jan. 18.— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) February 28, 2020
Quote of the game
Considering all the talent on this roster, it is always staggering when the Caps get shut out. It happens to everyone, the league is really good and really tough, but it is still surprising. The players feel the same way.
Tom Wilson on the Caps getting shutout for the 2nd time this season:— Samantha Pell (@SamanthaJPell) February 28, 2020
"You're creating chances, it's a good thing, they are eventually going to go in, but that being said, there is too much offense, too good a team in this room to have zero goals on the board."
There will be two goals scored by defenseman— Coach G (@CoachAGuild) February 28, 2020
You got the one from Dmitry Kulikov, but that was it.
The dream was over 23 seconds into the game as Patrik Laine took a puck off the heel and was forced to leave the game.
Kovy gets his first as a Cap— Sean Hoppe (@hippityhoppe) February 28, 2020
He got really close from the Ovechkin spot on the power play.
the caps keep a steady lead— NHL Hitz 2001 (@cup_252321) February 28, 2020
They have to score to do that.
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