November 20, 2019

Washington Capitals Game 45 Recap: Third period breakdown dooms Caps in Dallas

The Washington Capitals got off to a weak start against the Dallas Stars on Saturday night, a tough 5-4 loss that leaves them wondering how they left two points behind in their swing through the Big D.  Coach Barry Trotz allowed the overworked Braden Holtby the night off, giving Justin Peters the start and a chance to keep the Caps rolling, but Dallas stole the show and left the visiting Caps empty-handed.

Washington, having just come from a demoralizing last-minute loss against the Nashville Predators, could not find a way to sustain momentum, handing over another loss.  The Caps, red-hot over the past fifteen games, were left wondering how to regain the spark that pushed them through December and early January.

First period

The Caps came out flat in the first period, looking absolutely exhausted in their first few shifts.  They experienced multiple breakdowns that left them struggling to respond to the Stars’ offense.

Nicklas Backstrom’s holding penalty early in the first opened the way to an early Dallas lead, when Jason Spezza made a nifty backhanded spin pass to Tyler Seguin, who was wide open in front of the Caps net. Seguin left backup goalie Justin Peters guessing when he fired a wrist shot on the upper left of the net at 2:26 to give the Stars a quick 1-0 start.

Erik Cole continued the offensive gambit for Dallas when he deflected a shot past Peters at 18:18, the assist credited to the long wrister from Jyrki Jokipakka at the point.

Second period

The Stars continued their offensive dominance when at 4:13 of the period, Jason Spezza put a slap shot past Peters from a quick change in direction and an easy pass from Erik Cole.

The Capitals enjoyed their first goal at 5:30 of the second period, when on an offensive drive, Eric Fehr put a wrist shot in the Dallas net off a Joel Ward pass.

Andre Burakovsky put up another goal for the guys in red at 16:06 in the period, when he received a pass from Matt Niskanen and wristed it past Dallas goalie Kari Lehtonen, setting the score at 3-2.

Third period

It seemed like the Caps quickly found the offensive spark they were looking for when Backstrom blocked a shot early in the period, passing the puck quickly to Alex Ovechkin who deked around Lehtonen to tie the game 3-3, at 0:21 of the period.

The Stars’ Antoine Roussel quickly responded at 3:14 of the period, putting another wrist shot past Justin Peters off a pass from Ryan Garbutt — leaving the Caps at a 4-3 deficit.

Jamie Benn put the follow-up goal in the net only sixteen seconds later, a wrist shot from a pass off Seguin that gave the Stars a stout 5-3 lead.

Troy Brouwer had a game-changing chance at 16:10 in the period when he fanned on a chance in front of the net.  Marcus Johansson intercepted a Dallas pass, keeping the puck in the zone, passing it right to Brouwer, who was unable to get it past Lehtonen.

The last gasp from the Caps came at 16:34 of the third period, when Backstrom put a snap shot past Lehtonen, an assist from Ovechkin that helped the Caps bring the deficit to one.

Takeaways

The Caps had their chances, but were flat offensively and couldn’t keep the puck away from their backup goalie.  Caps’ backup Justin Peters wasn’t terrible, but couldn’t capitalize on the opportunities to make big stops and keep the Capitals in the game.

The Caps outshot and outhit the Stars, but were unable to overcome their early deficit. In the end, the penalty calls gave the advantage to the Dallas Stars, which ultimately decided the game.

The Caps need to rebound quickly at home, with the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday their final game before the All-Star break. With the Islanders, Penguins, and Rangers all ahead of Washington in the Metropolitan Division, it is critical that the Capitals eek out points going into February.

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