Entering Saturday’s contest against the Boston Bruins, the Washington Capitals knew the door to a playoff spot was ajar. Toronto and Columbus both fell to their respective opponents the night before and subsequently failed to gain any ground in the race for a Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. All the Capitals needed to do was step over the threshold, and they’d be that much closer to the postseason.
It was almost as if they didn’t realize the chance they had. A slow start; a third period flurry; a 4-2 loss.
Braden Holtby, who has a history of good starts against Boston, did his best. But the rest of the team did not. He made a number of crucial saves, including a robbery of Chris Kelly in the first period, but the rest of the team could not deliver what they needed most – goals. Or, at least not enough when it mattered to win.
The best forward line for the Capitals of late has been the “third” line of Jason Chimera, Joel Ward, and Eric Fehr, and they were the ones who delivered the team’s first goal, while they were already mired in a 3-0 hole. Chimera scored his 14th of the season with 10 seconds remaining in the second period.
In the third, the Capitals seized a bit of momentum back. It was the way they wanted to play, but it was too little, too late. They need to begin games this way, not find their rhythm while attempting to chip away at a two-goal lead.
“I thought that most of the third period, we took the play to one of the best teams in the league. That’s a positive for us,” said Fehr. “Definitely don’t want to take that long, but we know they are a good team, and in our own rink, we should be able to use momentum and create chances.”
Once again, in the dying seconds of the third period, a puck found the back of the net for the Capitals. Young hope Evgeny Kuznetsov scored his second goal of the season, but it was too late. The Capitals had found the recipe, but they were already cooked.