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How an icing call cost the Capitals Game 2

How an icing call cost the Capitals Game 2

Sixty minutes was not enough to separate the Caps and Maple Leafs on Saturday. An additional 20 minutes couldn’t do the job either. What finally proved to be the difference was a critical icing call in the second overtime period that gave Toronto the 4-3 win and tied the series at 1.

While trying to break out of the neutral zone, Evgeny Kuznetsov attempted a pass off the wall to Justin Williams that was a bit too strong and went down behind Toronto’s red line for the icing call. By rule, that meant the players on the ice for the Capitals had to remain for the next faceoff. This put the Caps at a disadvantage. First, it kept the five players on the ice on a prolonged shift, a disadvantage more pronounced given that it came in double overtime when minutes need to be carefully monitored. It also allowed Toronto to match up with the players on the ice, something they were not normally able to do off a faceoff since the home team gets the second line change. Most importantly, however, it forced a line that Barry Trotz does not typically employ in the defensive zone to stay on the ice for a defensive zone draw.

Kuznetsov has the third-lowest percentage of defensive zone faceoffs on the team with 25.8-percent, lower even than Alex Ovechkin. What that suggests is that when the Caps are taking a faceoff in the defensive zone, Trotz specifically tries to avoid putting Kuznetsov out. Part of that may be because Kuznetsov is not a two-way forward and is much stronger on the offensive end of the ice. Another more likely reason has to do with the fact that as a center, he is tasked with the responsibility of winning the faceoff.

Of Washington’s four centers, Kuznetsov had the lowest faceoff win percentage in the regular season with 44-percent. On Saturday, he won only 10 of the 28 faceoffs he took for win percentage of only 35.7-percent.

So in terms of a critical faceoff in the defensive zone, Kuznetsov would not have been Trotz’s first pick.  He had already taken the draw before in the defensive zone and lost to William Nylander leading to a dangerous deflection opportunity for Zach Hyman.

Toronto matched Kuznetsov with one of the better faceoff players on the team in Brian Boyle, but Boyle was kicked out of the circle and replaced by Kasperi Kapanen. Kapanen still won the draw against Kuznetsov, however, giving the Maple Leafs possession which prevented a line change by Washington.

The shift was not an overly long one for the offense. Kuznetsov was on the ice for 59 seconds which was typical of the shift lengths he had been getting in overtime. The same was not true, however, for the defense.

With only three pairs of defensemen as opposed to four offensive lines, the defensemen’s shifts are much more limited because they are going to take more of them than the offense. Karl Alzner was on the ice for 50 seconds when the goal was scored. That was his longest shift since late in the third period. John Carlson was on the ice for 50 seconds as well which was about double the length of the shifts he had been taking in the second overtime.

The resulting possession led to the game-winning goal by Kapanen just 20 seconds later.

The impact of a simple icing call can so often be overlooked as it does not really begin to be a factor until later in the game when the players’ legs get heavier and the disadvantage in keeping the same line becomes more pronounced. On Saturday, an icing call gave Toronto a favorable faceoff matchup in the Caps’ defensive zone and forced a tired defensive pair of Alzner-Carlson to remain on the ice

The rest, as they say, is history.

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Canadiens halt Capitals' point streak at 13

Canadiens halt Capitals' point streak at 13

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.

Ovechkin’s hit

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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How to Watch: Capitals at Bruins: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream

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How to Watch: Capitals at Bruins: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream

When the Capitals play the Bruins it is always a must-see contest.

Two of the biggest hitters in the league have quite the history against each other in Brad Marchand and Tom Wilson. Expect more of the same when they meat again on Saturday night. 

The Caps will be without Nic Dowd and Carl Hagelin, calling up defenseman Tyler Lewington in their place.

The Caps have not lost in regulation since Oct. 14. and it is now Nov. 15 and Washington has gone a full month without suffering a single regulation loss. The Caps have points in 13 straight games and have won 11 of their last 13.

Here is everything you need to know about the Saturday nights game, which takes place at 7:00 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Washington.

CAPITALS vs. BRUINS HOW TO WATCH:

What: Washington Capitals at Boston Bruins, Game 22 of the 2018-19 NHL Regular Season

Where: TD Garden, Boston, MA

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: The Capitals at Bruins game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (NBC Sports channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can live stream Capitals at Bruins on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the NBC Sports App.

Radio: Caps 24/7 Radio, 106.7 The Fan FM

CAPITALS at BRUINS TV SCHEDULE:

6:00 PM: Caps Faceoff Live

6:30 PM: Caps Pregame Live

7:00 PM: Capitals at Bruins

9:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live

10:00 PM: Caps Overtime Live

10:00 PM: D.C. Sports Live

CAPITALS at BRUINS INJURY REPORT:

Capitals: LW Carl Hagelin, upper body, day-to-day 

C Nic Dowd, upper body, day-to-do

Bruins: RW, Zach Senyshyn, lower body, day-to-day

D Trey Krug, upper body, day-to-day

RW Brett Ritchie, upper body, day-to-day

LW Jake DeBrusk, lower body, day-to-day

RW David Backes, upper body, day-to-day

C Karson Kuhlman, leg, day-to-day

D Kevan Miller, knee, day-to-day

D John Moore, shoulder, day-to-day

CAPITALS at BRUINS PLAYERS TO WATCH

Capitals:

John Carlson, D: No. 74 has been the best offensive defenseman in the NHL through the first month and a half of the season. He leads all defensemen with 30 points, with Carolina's Dougie Hamilton the next closest with 21. 

T.J. Oshie, RW: After totaling 11 points in 14 games in October, Oshie has just three points in six games in November. Finding the back of the net will be tough for Oshie, as the Bruins allow just 2.39 goals per game, the NHL's fourth-best.

Bruins:

David Pastrnack, RW: Pastrnack has 31 points in 18 games; only Edmonton's Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl have more points in the NHL this season. The Bruins are on a four-game losing streak, and the winger has only one point over that span. Look for him to get back on track against the Capitals.

Brad Marchand, C: Marchand is neck-in-neck with his Pastrnack in points this season, as Marchand trails Pastrnack by just one. The duo will look to continue their early-season success in their first matchup with the Caps this season.

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