It’s seemingly always a rough ride for the Caps whenever they host the Dallas Stars - regardless of where each team has been in the standings at the time. Going back to their first visit to the District way back in April of 1994 (their first year as a Dallas team), the Stars have won all but four of their games against the Caps in the “friendly” confines of DC, with the Caps going 4-10-1-3 in 18 tries overall.
...but that’s the past. What about the present? Well, it started on a sour note with news that both Trevor van Riemsdyk and Nic Dowd would be out of the lineup, with TvR hitting injured reserve - this with T.J. Oshie already missing from the injury he suffered Thursday night in Columbus. The lone bright spot when it came to lineup news was the return of Lars Eller from his Vancouver seclusion.
Unfortunately, despite a third-period rally, the Caps were unable to overcome the combination of those lineup losses, a potential comedown from an emotional win on Friday, a weird start time on a Sunday, and the Dallas-ness of the opponent - and dropped their first in regulation in three weeks.
Here’s Sunday evening’s Plus/Minus:
Plus: Seeing Braden Holtby again.
Minus: The absence of van Riemsdyk and Dowd from the team’s penalty killers (with Carl Hagelin already out) was noticeable, as was the absence of TvR from the blueline. Food for thought with the trade deadline looming.
And now, this absolute gut punch:
A few more notes on this evening’s game:
- The game was barely two minutes old when the Caps, who had controlled play early on, found themselves trailing thanks to Alexander Radulov... which, despite his measly three (now four) goals this season, was a sure bet to score this evening. Maybe the Caps should trade for him just to keep him from piling up points on them.
- Roope Hintz has also taken a liking to scoring on the Caps, apparently. He picked up the first of what would be two power-play goals on the evening when, with the Caps shorthanded in the first, he got behind Michal Kempny and fired a backhand past Vanecek to put the Stars up 2-0.
- Caps were letting Stars get in front of Vanecek way too easily
- On their fourth power play of the game, the Caps finally found the back of the net, when Alex Ovechkin did what Alex Ovechkin does best and blasted a shot from his office past Jake Oettinger. Goats beat otters, apparently.
- Oh and by the way that goal just marks Ovechkin’s 40th of the season, and first against Jake Oettinger. We’ll let @CapitalsPR take it from here
This additionally passes Wayne Gretzky (155) for the fifth most goaltenders an individual has scored on in his career. https://t.co/Kn1auLNGKG— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) March 20, 2022
- The celebration would be short-lived, as Hintz and the Stars’ power play decided they wanted their two-goal lead back. About five minutes after Ovechkin cut the lead in half, the Stars carried off a a series of nice passing plays that ended with Hintz’s second of the night. Nice play all around by the Stars... not so much by the Caps’ PK, which was missing some key pieces and it showed.
- You’re welcome, Dallas.
Coming into this game, Roope Hintz had 3 goals in last 18 games since start of February. Hadn't scored a goal in his last 8 games. He has 2 goals tonight through 2 periods, both coming on a power play that was 0-9 on this four-game road trip.— Saad Yousuf (@SaadYousuf126) March 20, 2022
Stars lead 3-1 after two periods.
- So the Caps would go into the locker room trailing after two periods - again. Tonight was the fourth time in their last five games that the Caps found themselves trailing heading into the third (although it was the first of those four in which they were down by more than one goal).
- Perhaps another comeback was in the making? The Caps had some chances to start the third period, and finally cashed in around the halfway point of the third, when Dmitry Orlov blistered a shot from the slot to tighten the score to 3-2.
- Just about a minute later, the Caps found themselves facing a critical penalty kill when Garnet Hathaway was given a penalty for goaltender interference (although it was more like two minutes for getting shoved into the goalie while driving the net and having literally nowhere else to go, which is not actually a penalty). The PK squad came up big, though, and even generated some chances of their own.
- Definite missed call near the end of the game, when a footrace for the puck turned into a dangerous play after Jamie Benn shoved John Carlson, causing him to fall awkwardly into the boards. The result was Carlson to the locker room, matching roughing minors to Benn and Wilson for the scrum that followed, and nothing else. Bit of a garbage play there by the Dallas captain.
So the Caps give it their best shot but aren’t able to overcome some early sloppiness, and as a result fail to grab at least a point for the first time since their regulation loss to Toronto to close out February. With the trade deadline less than 24 hours away, it’ll be interesting to see if this was the last game of the season with this particular lineup - and what the team might look like on Tuesday.