July 23, 2014

GAME 13 RE-CAP: Caps collapse again in third period, lose 5-2 to Dallas

Dallas Stars scored three times early in third period to beat Caps. (Photo by Cheryl Nichols)

The Capitals allowed a team to outplay them in the third period for the second game in a row, but this time the Capse were well rested. Dallas scored three times in the third period, including twice just 32 seconds apart, and beat the Capitals 5-2. This was the Caps first loss at home this year and they fall to 9-4-0 for the season.

In the past five periods, the Capitals have been outscored 10-3, and they’ve lost 4-of-6 games since Mike Green was injured during the team’s seventh straight win.

“They’re not scoring ugly goals either,” forward Mike Knuble said. “They’re snapping it around, goalie not even in the net. They make you look bad, and it’s embarrassing when you’re on the ice and guys are beating you. The other night you get beat one-on-four and just playing like a bunch of losers. You’re going to lose if you play like that, you’ll lose every night in the league, let alone talking about playoffs and all that.”

The collapse began in the second period, but two goals scored within 32 seconds crippled any thought of a comeback.

After Alexander Semin was called for his second penalty of the game 6:02 into the third period, Jamie Benn buried a rebound chance on the power play to up the score to 4-2. But before public address announcer Wes Johnson could even finish announcing the goal, Eric Nystrom put a diving shot past Neuvirth at point blank range off of a face-off for a commanding 5-2 lead.

“We just got outworked. When you get outworked they’re going to make you look bad,” John Erskine, who played in his 400th career NHL game, said. “And that’s what happened.”

Semin has nine minor penalties in 13 games this season. Coach Bruce Boudreau sent a message to the squad by benching Semin for the remaining 13:58 of the game, save for power play shifts, after his second penalty.

The Caps never lead in the game, and were playing catch-up for just about all of it. Halfway through the first period, Jeff Schultz turned the puck ove, and it landed on the stick of Trevor Daley, whose blast was redirected by Michael Ryder past goaltender Michal Neuvirth.

Semin tied the game at one in the first period with a power play strike. Nicklas Backstrom found Semin all alone in the slot from the right corner and Semin did not miss the lay-up.

The Stars were buzzing in front of the net towards the end of the first period, and Ryder was able to get the puck unmolested in the crease and deke Neuvirth into submission to wrestle the lead back for Dallas with 2:54 to go in the first.

The Caps went much of the second period without generating offensive chances, but their play picked up halfway through the period. John Carlson capped off the rally with a blast from the point off a face-off win from Marcus Johansson. Cody Eakin tipped the puck to Carlson for the primary assist to tie the game at two.

But Dennis Wideman’s delay of game penalty with 1:36 left in the second period began the Caps demise. The second it expired in the third period, Adam Burish found himself all alone with the puck in front of Michael Neuvirth, who again fell prey to stick handling moves and Burish chipped it in to give the Stars the lead for good at 3-2.

The Caps showed up in the shot department, only being out shot 36-32. Dallas net-minder Kari Lehtonen made 34 stops but left rebounds that the Caps were unable to turn into second chance opportunities. The result was a lot of one-and-done offensive zone trips, and Dallas would respond by forcing the play back to the Caps side of the ice.

Boudreau blamed the team’s recent skid on losing one-on-one battles. He agreed with Knuble that the team’s effort has tailed off since the end of the seven game winning streak.

“If it’s a comfort thing,” he said, “the comfort will change tomorrow.”

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