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Capitals vs. Senators Recap: Caps Drop Battle of the Capital Cities

The Caps drop their fourth in a row, against the Ottawa Senators, 6-4 on Thanksgiving Eve, letting an early two goal lead slip away in the final forty minutes.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

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After picking up a point in the shootout against Toronto on Saturday night the Capitals had three full days to prepare for the Senators coming into town, a team on a similar downhill slide in the season's second month. Despite getting onto goaltender Craig Anderson early, Washington was unable to close out their Capital counterparts and skated off home ice without any points. The loss extends their current slide to four winless games.

The Capitals' Braden Holtby wasn't sharp enough and the offense went inept, save for a late powerplay goal, after the game's first frame. The Senators outshot their hosts, including an embarrassing 19-3 second period, and they were victorious because of their late game push. Ottawa took advantage of Washington's inability to stay out of the penalty box, the visitors scoring a powerplay goal in each period of play.

Ten more notes on the game:

  • Anderson dug his heels in and anchored the visiting team tonight after a tough opening twenty minutes. The workload was light in the second period but Anderson stood on top of his crease and kept the Capitals shooters off the board for the game's final 45 minutes. Holtby would end the night with 35 saves, a fair amount of work, but will likely be kicking himself in post game scrums.
  • Eric Fehr got the scoring started with a power move to the high slot which gave him time and space to send a snapshot over Anderson’s glove hand and put the good guys up one early. Credit goes to Michael Latta for driving the net with the puck before leaving it free and clear for Fehr’s quick work.
  • The lead would not last long, a key faceoff win by Kyle Turris leading to a point shot from Patrick Wiercioch that sniper Bobby Ryan tipped past Holtby. The Senators forwards were able to attack Holtby’s net knowing their team had possession of the puck up top, Ryan taking advantage of the situation.
  • Marcus Johansson put the Capitals ahead 38 seconds after Ryan’s tally, strong play from Troy Brouwer in the slot allowing an Alex Ovechkin shot to fumble behind Anderson and allowing Johansson the slam dunk. The power play goal was a turnaround from the man advantage unit’s first attempt, which went shot less.
  • Impressive of Tyson Strachan for standing up against Chris Neil who buried Nate Schmidt in the defensive zone with a high and hard hit. Unfortunately Strachan’s extra minor for Instigating negated any Washington power play, and that’s counterproductive.
  • Chris Phillips brought the Senators to within one in the middle frame, a slapshot from the left wing rising over Holtby’s extended glove hand. John Carlson couldn’t quite get his stick on the puck, and Phillips didn’t miss his mark. You could feel the game's momentum shifting.
  • Ottawa would tie the game halfway through the second period, Colin Greening’s snapshot bouncing between Holtby’s left pad and arm. Greening picked up the puck in the defensive zone and drove wide right all the way into the Capitals zone.
  • The Verizon Center would erupt when Carlson scored his sixth goal of the year to tie the game at four apiece. A quick win of the faceoff in the offensive zone gave Carlson an open look from forty feet and inspired hope for the faithful in attendance.
  • Unfortunately Zach Smith would provide the game winning goal less than a minute after Carlson's powerplay goal. The nasty winger skated past Mike Green and fired a shot before Schmidt could get his stick in the way. The unexpected tally seemed to catch Holtby off guard and is one he would probably like back.
  • Both man advantage teams were successful tonight, the Senators and Capitals going 50% each (3 for 6 and 2 for 4 respectively). Washington's first powerplay chance look lackluster, but the group got their act together, culminating in Carlson's game tying goal with three minutes left.

The Capitals remain winless since their four to one dismantling of the St. Louis Blues, picking up a single point in the shootout against Toronto from a possible eight. Tonight's loss stings greater than the others because of the home town team's two goal advantage after twenty minutes, but you know what they say about two goal leads. Holtby couldn't keep the Senators away and the offense couldn't muster anything of value late in the game. Washington goes after it again Friday against the Montreal Canadiens in a late afternoon tilt - until then have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Game highlights: