November 17, 2019

Washington Capitals Game 75 Recap: Slow start dooms Washington as Caps come up short

Exasperated sighs and disappointed faces told the tale on Saturday afternoon in the Washington Capitals locker room. Squandering an early 5-on-3 power play, the Caps spotted the Nashville Predators a 3-0 lead before clawing back to pull within a goal twice. A late flurry of shots with an extra attacker wasn’t enough, and Washington ultimately fell 4-3 to the Predators at Verizon Center.

Two former members of the Capitals organization, Mike Ribeiro and Filip Forsberg, tallied for the Predators, who were the first Western Conference team to clinch a playoff spot with the win. It took just 5 minutes and 45 seconds for Nashville to silence the Verizon Center crowd and end Braden Holtby’s afternoon early. Mattias Ekholm at 9:02, Mike Fisher at 11:29 and Forsberg at 14:47 all contributed to give the Predators a lead that they wouldn’t lose, although they came close to doing so twice.

“In the first [period], they [Nashville] were playing a little quicker,” head coach Barry Trotz said. “We weren’t quite executing, and they capitalized on the chances that we gave them. I thought [Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby] would probably say he needs to be a little sharper there.”

Booed off the ice to end the first period, the Caps scored off a Troy Brouwer redirect just 19 seconds into the second. Brouwer cut the Nashville lead in half with a quick shorthanded shot from the slot with 12:28 left in the frame, but less than five minutes later, a deflection by Ribeiro stopped the Washington momentum swing in its tracks and push the lead back up to two.

“I thought we did a good job of trying to come back and making ourselves get into the game a little bit better, but that first period…” Troy Brouwer trailed off. “If we want to be successful in the playoffs, we can’t have slow starts like that. It doesn’t matter what time of the day the game is.”

Mike Green scored 20 seconds into the third, but after five shot attempts with 1:43 of an extra attacker were for naught, the horn sounded on the Caps’ comeback hopes and put a dent into their still-strong playoff hopes. Factoring in results from this game and the Rangers/Bruins game, Washington still has a 92.4 chance of making it back to the postseason with tonight’s Ottawa/Toronto game still to come (per Sports Club Stats).

CAPS NOTES

  • The Ribeiro goal stands as the game-winner and was assisted by none other than Forsberg himself. Ribeiro left in 2013 via free agency after just one year, while Forsberg was traded to Nashville at the 2013 deadline.
  • If you’re looking for something to pin the loss on, physicality may not be the place. They out-hit the Predators 45-17.
  • Washington squandered an early 5-on-3 power play, doing little aside from reversing the puck and shooting a one-timer from the top of the left circle. It was right after that man advantage ended when Nashville got on the board.
  • It was the zebras who were booed off the ice to end the second, whose whistles were heard almost as often as the organ at one point. They doled out 12 penalty minutes over 80 seconds, including an embellishment minor to Alex Ovechkin, who said he was surprised by the call.

  • Peters saw ice time for the first time since March 13 and took the decision. He hasn’t started a game since Feb. 15. “It’s always nice to play again. The circumstances are not what you want, but I just wanted to come in and create some life and give the team a chance. Just do my job, just like every other guy’s trying to do,” he said. “I think we look at [the game] from the perspective [of] where we see how we’re capable of playing. We need to bring that effort right from the start. We didn’t, but at the same time we forget about it today and move on.”
About Eric Hobeck

Eric Hobeck is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins and Capitals. Eric contributes to high school sports coverage at InsideNova.com. He served as sports editor of The Rotunda at Longwood University for two years, where he was also the men’s basketball beat writer. He hosted a campus radio show for three years and called basketball and baseball games for the station’s award-winning sports team. You can follow Eric on Twitter @eric_hobeck.

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