The Washington Capitals stormed out of the locker room, shrugged off an early Arizona Coyotes goal, and took a 3-1 lead barely 16 minutes into their game on Sunday evening. Then, they stopped playing. Between some iffy officiating and some just plain awful penalty killing, the Coyotes scored five unanswered goals in 31:29 spanning the second and third periods. The Caps awakened to score two goals in the last 1:53, but it was too little, too late as the Coyotes held off the Caps, 6-5.
Ten more notes on the game:
- The Backstrom-Ovechkin-Wilson era began on the shift following an Antoine Vermette power play goal 7:14 into the first period to open the scoring. Tom Wilson announced his presence just 49 seconds after Vermette’s goal. It started when Alex Ovechkin took a pass from Nicklas Backstrom and curled inside the Arizona blue line to give Wilson a chance to set up in front of the Arizona net. Ovechkin then threw a puck at the net that Wilson deftly redirected up and over Devan Dubnyk’s glove to tie the game at a goal apiece 8:03 into the period. Just like in the playbook.
- Just 1:46 later, Wilson recorded an assist on his second shift with Backstrom (Eric Fehr had just stepped on to replace Ovechkin on the other wing) as the Caps capitalized on a relentless shift of forechecking. Wilson got the secondary assist when John Carlson took a feed from Nicklas Backstrom in stride and wristed a shot under the crossbar over Dubnyk’s glove to give the Caps a 2-1 lead.
- Ovechkin stopped a personal five-game streak without a point with an assist against Tampa Bay on Saturday night. Tonight, he ended a six-game streak without a goal on, what else, a power play. With Joe Vitale in the box for tripping Mike Green, Ovechkin made the Coyotes pay by taking a feed from Green in the OviSpot and one timing it past Dubnyk to make it 3-1 barely 16 minutes into the game.
- The Coyotes came into this game having gone six straight periods without scoring an even strength goal. The streak reached seven periods before Arizona scored on what was technically an even strength goal at 4:04 of the second period, but one that came one second after a penalty to Karl Alzner expired.
- The Coyotes were 2-for-6 on the power play, and that makes six games in seven that the Caps have allowed at least one power play goal. Washington is 19-for-27 in penalty killing over that span (70.4 percent). The six shorthanded situations faced in this game is a team high for the season.
- Wasted on this evening was a four-point night for Ovechkin (goal, three assists). It is the 18th time in his career he has recorded four or more points in a game. Nicklas Backstrom had three assists, the 27th time he has recorded three or more helpers in a game.
- It was an equal opportunity effort, so to speak, on the goals allowed front. Fourteen skaters were on ice for goals (Troy Brouwer, Michael Latta, Marcus Johansson, and Evgeny Kuznetsov were spared). Jay Beagle was on ice for four goals against, Joel Ward, and Brooks Orpik for three apiece. It was unfortunate for Beagle, who had a couple of fine penalty killing efforts when he bled time off the clock by pinning the puck to the boards behind the Coyotes’ net as Arizona players tried to pry it loose.
- Sometimes, one speaks of a goalie wanting back a goal he gave up. Justin Peters had perhaps two that were replicas of one another. There was the Shane Doan laser over his right shoulder on the short side with five seconds left in the second period to tie the game going into the second intermission. Then there was the Sam Gagner goal three minutes into the third period over the same shoulder to give the Coyotes the lead that they would not relinquish. When Doan scored just 1:28 after Gagner’s goal, it made it three in 4:38 for the Coyotes to take all the air out of the building for the Caps and their fans.
- Andre Burakovsky took an awkward tumble on his tail bone when absorbing a hit in open ice and skated only 7:42 for the game. He skated only two shifts in the second period. He and Evgeny Kuznetsov had a rough night in the faceoff circle, going a combined 1-for-14.
- Arizona narrowly won the possession battle with a Corsi-for plus-3/51.72 percent at 5-on-5. In that regard Martin Hanzal was a force unto himself for the visitors, going Corsi plus-11 (82.35 percent). He was also 13-for-18 in faceoffs. Oddly enough, he had only one point (assist).
"Our behavior has to change; we’ve done this multiple times…it’s an old story already; it’s too old for me." So said head coach Barry Trotz in the post-game press conference. After losing four in a row and five of their last six games to sink to 13th place in the Eastern Conference, you would think so. The Caps scored five goals and lost to a team that had trouble scoring against air (22 goals in ten games coming into this contest). They allowed four even strength goals to a team that had only 13 even strength goals coming into this game. So yes, behavior has to change. It had better do so quick, too.