The Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning met for the second time in five days on Wednesday, but Washington was not able to avenge its earlier loss and fell 5-4 in overtime.
Evgeny Kuznetsov scored with less than a minute remaining in regulation to tie the game and give Washington a point in the standings. The bigger loss may have come in the second period when defenseman Michal Kempny had to be helped down the tunnel after suffering a lower-body injury.
Here are five reasons the Caps lost.
The Caps looked fantastic in the first period. They were getting long shifts in the offensive zone and not letting Tampa Bay get its offense set up at all. Washington outshot the Lightning 15-5 through 20 minutes in a margin that was fairly representative of how the game was going to that point.
But everything seemed to turn with 33 seconds remaining. Tom Wilson was called for holding Victor Hedman in the neutral zone giving Tampa Bay’s lethal power play their first opportunity of the night. Washington escaped the first period with the 1-0 lead, but was not able to kill off the penalty.
Less than a minute after Nikita Kucherov tied the game, Alex Ovechkin was called for elbowing and again, the Lightning converted.
The Caps battled back from a 3-1 deficit to tie it, but just 26 seconds after T.J. Oshie’s game-tying goal, Dmitry Orlov was booked for slashing. You can guess what happened.
Can I interest you in a 100-percent power play? Because that’s what Tampa Bay managed on Wednesday.
Had the Lightning beaten the Caps in the playoffs last season, the power play would have been a major reason why. It was just as lethal as ever on Wednesday as Tampa Bay converted on all three of its power play chances. The power play allowed the Lighting to take a 1-0 deficit and turn it into a 2-1 lead at the start of the second period. When Washington tied the game at 3, the power play again struck to put Tampa Bay up again, this time for good.
The Caps’ power play, meanwhile, converted only once on six opportunities. You are going to have a hard time winning a game when you are giving up 100-percent on the man advantage and only scoring at about 17-percent of your own power plays.
Losing Michal Kempny
Losing two points against the Lightning in the regular season is not ideal given the tight division race, but it is not the end of the world. The much bigger loss could potentially be the loss of Kempny who suffered a lower-body injury in the second period and did not return.
The play occurred after Kempny took issue with a hit from Cedric Paquette that looked like a possible board. Kempny reacted with a shot to the face of Paquette followed by a shove after the whistle which sparked a melee between the two. The two sparred along the boards and Paquette grabbed Kempny and took him down to the ice. Kempny fell awkwardly and it appeared his left leg was caught up underneath him. He was helped very slowly down the tunnel and did not appear to be putting any weight on his left leg at all. The Caps declared him out for the game before the third period began.
Losing a top-pairing defenseman against an offense as dangerous as Tampa Bay’s is a serious blow even though the Bolts were held off the board after that point.
Victor Hedman takes advantage of Alex Ovechkin losing his edge
In overtime, Ovechkin took the puck up the ice for perhaps another vintage Ovechkin moment. The play never materialized, however, as Ovechkin lost his skate edge and fell. That allowed Victor Hedman to take the puck in the opposite direction on the rush. When Hedman saw he was given room to work with, he took it on net and backhanded the shot past Holtby for the overtime winner.
The Caps did their best to make Vasilevskiy uncomfortable all game long by firing a franchise-record 58 shots on goal.
Vasilevskiy turned aside 54 of the 58 shots he faced, however, to make sure Tampa Bay never trailed after the early 1-0 deficit.