WASHINGTON -- You've got to lose sometime. The clock finally struck midnight on the Capitals' point streak on Friday as Washington fell 5-2 to the Montreal Canadiens. A sleepy first period gave way to an onslaught in the second where Montreal scored four of its five goals.
The loss was the Caps' first regulation loss since Oct. 14, ending a streak of 13 straight games with at least a point.
Here is how the Caps lost.
Early in the second period, it would be fair to call this a lifeless game. The score was tied at 0 with neither team generating much in the way of offense. There were no real highlight plays, highlight, nothing. It was just...blah.
Alex Ovechkin changed that.
Just over four minutes into the second, Ovechkin obliterated Canadiens forward Jonathan Drouin with a heavy hit.
Drouin was slow to get up and immediately headed to the locker room. Those type of hits can be momentum-changers, but it is not always the hitter that gets that momentum boost. In this case, it seemed to wake up Montreal and not the Caps.
About two minutes after the hit, Phillip Danault would score the first of four goals the Canadiens would score in the second period. All four goals came in a span of 8:20.
It's hard not to draw the connection between the hit and the immediate response from Montreal on the scoresheet.
Defensive zone turnovers
Defensive zone turnovers are very dangerous in hockey. When a team has possession of the puck and is trying to break out, players head down the ice ready to transition from defense to offense.
In the second period, the Caps and Canadiens were locked in a board battle off a faceoff in Washington's defensive zone. John Carlson kicked the puck up near the blue line and T.J. Oshie stepped in. It looked like he was going to get the puck out or at least that's what his four teammates thought. Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom were already out of the defensive zone and both while Carlson and Kempny began skating up after them. Tomas Tatar and Ben Chiarot continued battling for the puck on the boards and prevented Oshie from getting it out. The puck squirted away from the boards and Montreal took possession. The Caps thought they had the puck on the breakout, but the defense suddenly found itself out of position thanks to the turnover. Tomas Tatar passed to Danault who was all by his lonesome in front of the net and he made it 1-0.
It wasn’t just that one moment. Puck management was an issue all night long for the Caps and it cost them again about five minutes later.
Now down 2-0, the Caps shut down an offensive zone possession for Montreal and had taken away the puck. Lars Eller attempted a stretch pass from the defensive zone right up the middle, but Tatar batted the puck down with his stick and Nate Thompson picked up the puck right behind the blue line and took it right back in to continue the offensive pressure. Less than 20 seconds later, Jordan Weal backhanded a shot that hit off the post and bounced off Samsonov to barely trickle over the goal line.
Out of gas
Lengthy streaks can be exhausting for teams and it certainly looked through 40 minutes like the Caps were just out of gas.
Montreal played well, but each goal in the second seemed to take more of the wind out of Washington's sails until there wasn't much left in the second period.
Through the first 40 minutes, the Caps were being outshot 30-18 in shots on goal and 50-36 in total shot attempts. The team rallied somewhat in the third period with Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov each scoring to make things interesting, but there was not enough time or energy left for Washington to mount a real comeback.
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