The Capitals erased a 3-0 deficit but allowed a late shorthanded goal in a 4-3 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday. This was the team's final game before the All-Star break.
Here are some observations from the game.
For the first time all season, the Capitals took to the ice without Alex Ovechkin. He was added to the NHL's COVID protocol after testing positive earlier Wednesday. Joe Snively took his spot on the top line and played well, but Ovechkin's absence loomed large, especially on the power play.
A rough start
Leon Draisaitl poked in a pass from Cody Ceci just 90 seconds into the game. Evander Kane deflected a shot from Duncan Keith just 91 seconds later. Connor McDavid then banked a shot off the back of goalie Ilya Samsonov to make it 3-0 just 5:07 in.
More goalie issues
The last two nights have been a good snapshot of inconsistency the Caps have been dealing with in net. Vitek Vanecek looked to be in firm control of the starting job going into Tuesday's game in Pittsburgh. He allowed one goal on two shots, then came out of the game just 6:43 in with an upper-body injury after a collision with Kasperi Kapanen. Samsonov came in and stopped 43 of 45 shots in the overtime win.
One night later, head coach Peter Laviolette elected to start him despite the back-to-back and his night ended in just over five minutes after allowing three goals on four shots.
You can't blame Vanecek for getting injured and asking Samsonov to play against McDavid and Draisaitl one night after facing 45 shots was a lot to ask. If these were isolated issues, it would be easy to dismiss them. But these are the type of issues that have cropped up this season and in 2021 again and again.
The silver lining was that Pheonix Copley got his first NHL action since April 6, 2019. He saved 21 of the 22 shots he faced.
More power play woes
Lars Eller scored just 2:29 after McDavid extended Edmonton's lead to three. Conor Sheary would score in the second and Evgeny Kuznetsov would complete the comeback in the third. With the game tied at 3, Edmonton gave Washington two opportunities to take the lead and earn an improbable win, but the power play was a complete disaster.
Washington went 0-for-3 on the night with the extra man, failed to register a single shot and gave up the go-ahead, shorthanded goal late in the third to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
Yes, the Caps were without Ovechkin, but they entered the game with the 28th ranked power play scoring at only 15.7%. The power play was absolutely the deciding factor in a game in which the Caps were able to claw back from a 3-0 deficit.
Playing from behind
Crazy stat, but the Capitals did not have a lead at any point in five of its past six games. Somewhat remarkably, Washington actually won two of those five games in overtime. The only game in which they did hold a lead was in the 5-0 win over the Dallas Stars and even that game started with an early goal for Dallas that was ultimately disallowed on a coach's challenge.