Old concerns reemerge in Capitals’ 7-3 loss to Leafs


It’d be hard to find many positives to take from the Capitals’ performance against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday.

But those negatives are even more problematic when compared with the previous few weeks, as some of the Capitals' old problems came back to haunt them. 

In the 7-3 loss in Toronto, the Capitals had to play both goaltenders, and neither offered many reasons for inspiration. A big part of that, though, was that the Capitals weren’t nearly good enough in all three zones in front of their own net. 

“There was a lot of things that needed to be better," coach Peter Laviolette said postgame, "Certainly speed was one of them. There was a lot more too. We will take it and try to get better from it. There is a lot we can do to be better than we were tonight and get back to winning some hockey games.”

Before essentially a garbage time third period, the Capitals were outshot 26-14 and were out-attempted 34-11 at five-on-five in the first 40 minutes of the night. They trailed 6-2, but it certainly wasn’t due solely because of either netminder. 

Ilya Samsonov allowed four goals on 19 shots and was replaced by Vitek Vanecek, who allowed two goals in the second period as well. Neither goalie stopped 80% of the shots they faced.

“They had a couple of nice shots that went in the net,” Laviolette said. “For the most part I don’t think we did a very good job defending in front of our goaltenders and gave the opportunity way too many times for the opposition to make something happen so we needed to do a much better job in front of both of the goaltenders.”


It was that sequence where the game got away from the Capitals, as they rebounded from a terrible start to cut the lead in half with a John Carlson goal in the second period. From there, though, the Leafs put the game away. 

“It’s a big goal there by John, got it back to 2-1,” Nicklas Backstrom said. “Then they scored two or three quick ones there. That’s tough, especially when they have that 4-1, 5-1 lead, that’s tough to catch up. I think that was probably the stretch that we should’ve taken care of better. Obviously disappointing.”

That was certainly part of the frustration for Washington, as it had scored at least four goals in the team’s last four games. In doing so, the Capitals beat three playoff teams and then stomped the Flyers 9-2 on Tuesday. 

But against a playoff team in Toronto, they were outdone from the start of the night until the final buzzer. 

“I think against a team like this, first of all, you’ve got to take care of the puck and you can’t get caught giving them odd-man rushes,” Backstrom said. “That’s what they got all night, I thought. When they get those opportunities, they’re good. They’re skilled players and they have a lot of speed. That was definitely an area that was disappointing tonight.”