May 20, 2022

Washington Capitals Game 74 Recap: Caps blow lead, win in OT

Matt Niskanen saved the Washington Capitals from adding insult to injury, scoring quickly in overtime to lift the Caps to a 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils, to whom the home team surrendered the game-tying goal with an even 30 seconds left in regulation.

The Caps (40-24-10) pulled to within one point of Metropolitan Division third-place Pittsburgh, who fell to Carolina 5-2 and put themselves five point clear of eighth-place Ottawa, which also lost, 5-1, to the division-leading New York Rangers and Boston, 3-2 losers to Anaheim.

Niskanen took a cross-ice feed from Karl Alzner, teed it up, and ripped a slapshot — which appeared to get tipped along the way — past Devils goalie Cory Schneider for his fourth of the season.

“I thought [the New Jersey Devils] were way better than us,” coach Barry Trotz said. “We looked sloppy. We didn’t have much of a hard work ethic. (We) weren’t diligent on our responsibilities and that was probably one of our sloppier games that we played. I do not want to take anything away from New Jersey. New Jersey was better than us today. We got two lucky goals. In a sense, we did [toy with fate tonight].”

Washington led after one period, on Karl Alzner’s career-high fifth goal and 20th point of the season. Just 1:35 into the second period, Eric Fehr’s shot made it through a ton of traffic to get to the back of the net for his 19th goal of the season, just two off his career-high.

But then, the Caps stopped playing.

With a chance for the Caps to all-but finish out the Devils with a power play late in the second, New Jersey made it a one-goal game with 5:19 to go in the frame, as Travis Zajac stuffed home a rebound off a Scott Gomez short-handed shot.

The Caps then went back into a shell, allowing the Devils chance after chance throughout the third period, getting outshot in the stanza 12-5. The final one was the only one that mattered, as Steve Bernier rammed home the tying goal as the Devils played 6-on-5 in the waning seconds.

“I know I wasn’t happy with that game, and I know [the players] shouldn’t be,” Trotz said. “If they are, then we’re fooling ourselves. We didn’t play very well. Like I said, I do not want to take anything from New Jersey. They did some really great things. Our decision-making was poor. Our execution was poor. Our resilience and determination was average at best. We had too many guys, who weren’t getting it done tonight and fortunately, we had a couple guys that were able to.”

About Dave Nichols

Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Washington Nationals, Capitals, Wizards and Mystics. Dave also covers national college football and basketball and Major League Soccer for Associated Press and is a copy editor for the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, WA. He spent four years in radio covering the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Redskins and the University of Maryland football and basketball teams. Dave is a life-long D.C. sports fan and attended his first pro game in 1974 — the Caps’ second game in existence. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveNicholsDSP

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