Capitals

Power play goes quiet as shorthanded Caps fall to Kings

Capitals

A depleted Capitals lineup went 0-for-6 on the power play Sunday and ultimately fell 3-2 to the Los Angeles Kings. Washington took a 2-0 lead, but a shorthanded goal for Los Angeles woke up the Kings who rallied to score three straight.

Here are some observations from the game.

Shorthanded

Just about everyone is dealing with a shorthanded lineup right now with COVID once again wreaking havoc across the continent. The Caps have not had a full lineup at any point this season, but Sunday's lineup was particularly thin with five of the team's projected top-six forwards out. Evgeny Kuznetsov (COVID protocol), Nicklas Backstrom (COVID protocol), Tom Wilson (upper-body, IR), Anthony Mantha (upper-body, LTIR) and T.J. Oshie (COVID protocol) were all out leaving just Alex Ovechkin. As a result of the team missing so many players, much of the offensive workload fell on Ovechkin's shoulders. He played 19:31 through just the first two periods alone. He finished with 27:24 of total ice time with six shots on goal and an additional 10 shot attempts.. Part of this had to do with Washington getting a lot of time on the power play, but that's still a lot of playing time for the Great 8.

This game snapped a seven-game point streak for Ovechkin.

Snively makes his debut

With Oshie unavailable, the Caps recalled Herndon, Va. native Joe Snively from Hershey and he made his NHL debut. He is now the first player from the state of Virginia to play for the Capitals. Snively also recorded his first NHL point with an assist on a goal for Connor McMichael. Snively provided the pass from the goal line to set up McMichael in the slot.

 

A goal without a shot

Adrian Kempe scored the game-winning goal in the third period with his breakaway goal and it came without him ever actually shooting the puck.

Dustin Brown chipped a puck past John Carlson at the blue line and Matt Roy chipped it into the offensive zone past Martin Fehervary. Kempe zipped in behind Ovechkin who had to back-check with Carlson trailing the play. As Kempe went in on net, he tried to stickhandle and lost control of the puck as it bounced up. That bounce, however, beat goalie Vitek Vanecek and found its way into the back of the net.

Powerless on the power play

The Caps had six power-play opportunities on the night, but could not get any traction with the extra man going 0-for-6 on the night. Justin Schultz scored just as one power play expired, but that was as close as Washington would get.

With that many opportunities, the Caps had the opportunity to put a stranglehold on this game. McMichael gave Washington a 1-0 lead in the first and five of Washington's power plays came in the second period including a double-minor to Blake Lizotte who was called for hooking and unsportsmanlike conduct for abuse of officials.

The Caps were without the majority of their power-play unit with players like Backstrom, Oshie, Kuznetsov and Wilson out, but the team's inability to score on the power play proved to be one of the decisive factors in the game, especially when Lizotte scored a shorthanded goal late in the second to give the Kings their first goal of the game.

A gassed power-play unit was slow to get back to defend when the Kings tried to counter. Alex Iafallo beat Carlson to the puck at the Caps' blue line, three different players converged on him in the defensive zone and that left Lizotte wide open and a step ahead of a back-checking Ovechkin.

Sheary extends streak

Conor Sheary recorded an assist on the Schultz goal and thus extended his point streak to a career-high five games. He has recorded two goals and four assists in that stretch.

Another man down

The Caps announced before the game that Mike Sgarbossa had entered the NHL's COVID protocol. He took line rushes in the morning and looked like he would play in the game, but was not on for warmups. Now we know why.

In addition, the game was officiated by only one linesman and two referees. The other linesman, Julien Fournier, was unavailable. The league did not specify why in its statement, but Mike Vogel reported he was in COVID protocol as well.