Late stum­ble de­flates Caps

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - NEWS - By Is­abelle Khur­shudyan

It was a de­flat­ing, and yet fit­ting, way for the Wash­ing­ton Cap­i­tals’ game to end. De­fense­man John Carl­son stood be­hind Wash­ing­ton’s net and passed the puck up the ice. For­ward Jakub Vrana stum­bled try­ing to get to it. And then it was picked off by Dal­las cen­ter Ja­son Dick­in­son, who spun to­wards goal­tender Braden Holtby and fired for the over­time win­ner. An­other turnover had burned Wash­ing­ton.

Though the Cap­i­tals have proven to be re­silient this sea­son and never quite out of a game even when they’ve dug them­selves into a hole, the same puck man­age­ment mis­takes con­tinue to hurt them. In Satur­day’s 4-3 loss to Dal­las, Wash­ing­ton al­lowed four goals off turnovers, and while the team played bet­ter in the sec­ond half, it still ul­ti­mately couldn’t over­come its blun­ders.

They’ve been wildly in­con­sis­tent to start the sea­son, fol­low­ing each loss with a win and vice versa. Their games have sim­i­larly been a roller­coaster, and on Satur­day night, Wash­ing­ton over­came a two-goal deficit for a sec­ond straight game. Dal­las de­fense­man Ro­man Po­lak was called for in­ter­fer­ence 6:39 into the third pe­riod, giv­ing the Cap­i­tals’ top-ranked power-play unit an op­por­tu­nity to tie the game. Cen­ter Evgeny Kuznetsov sneaked a shot over goal­tender Ben Bishop’s shoul­der, beat­ing him high short side for his sixth power-play goal of the sea­son. He flapped his arms to im­i­tate a bird, a trade­mark cel­e­bra­tion for him. That en­sured the game went to over­time, where star Dal­las cen­ter Tyler Se­quin got a penalty shot less than a minute in. Holtby saved it, de­flect­ing the puck away with the tip of his glove. Dick­in­son de­cided it with 1:43 left in the ex­tra fame.

Af­ter the team’s loss in Mon­treal on Thurs­day night, Coach Todd Reirden lamented how the Cap­i­tals haven’t been able to string to­gether a “60-minute game” to this point in the sea­son. “We’re learn­ing some les­sons the hard way right now,” he said that night. A poor start to Satur­day’s game against Dal­las in­di­cated Wash­ing­ton still hadn’t learned.

The Cap­i­tals have been plagued by sloppy play to start the sea­son, and their team de­fense in par­tic­u­lar has been an is­sue. En­ter­ing Satur­day’s game, Wash­ing­ton had al­lowed 3.82 goals per game, which is tied for the third-most in the league. The same mis­takes haunted the team in the first pe­riod, when it fell into a 2-0 hole. TV: Ra­dio:

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