If the Washington Capitals had managed to win games in the past two weeks, there was a common denominator to what they had not done. The team had overcome several deficits of several goals, but she excelled at protecting her own leads for several goals. On Sunday, as they were about to win their eighth straight win, the Capitals collapsed in a stunning way, squandering a four-goal lead in the second period.
The Anaheim Ducks scored five unanswered goals in the last 26 minutes of the game to beat Washington, 6-5, and their first loss since Nov. 14. The Ducks became the first team in 19 years to exceed four goals. deficit on the road to gain regulation.
All that had played for the Capitals in their seven-game winning streak (good goalkeeping, good puck management, improved shots on goal, dangerous power play) suddenly came up against them, the players having become too relaxed with a cushion of four goals. Above all, it was a lesson for the Capitals, who may have become a bit too arrogant over the past two weeks.
"We thought it was done, but we could not stop playing," said captain Alex Ovechkin.
"It's really not an easy way to lose his streak, let alone lose the game," coach Todd Reirden said. "We moved away from the identity of our team and worked hard to establish that identity in our series of games we won here. If you want to make mistakes and make a random game when you're ahead, then you play with danger. So it was a tough defeat, but it will certainly be easy to learn as these are correctable mistakes. "
For the first half of the game, the Capitals looked a lot like a team that found its game over the past month. They had scored in the first round of the game with a goal from center Nicklas Backstrom, they had scored on the power play with a goal from Tom Wilson, then they had scored with their depth when the fourth players Chandler Stephenson and Nic Dowd added to the Washington advance. The team begins a road trip of three games with Tuesday's game against the Golden Knights of Vegas at the T-Mobile Arena, where the Capitals raised a Stanley Cup just six months ago, and have built a 5-1 lead against 34 for the Ducks. they did not seem too far from that.
The three goals of the first period drove Anaheim striker John Gibson from the net to Ryan Miller, and center goals Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dowd gave Washington a 5-1 lead in 1:30 pm of the second. period. But the Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano scored 61 seconds later. He was left alone in front of the goal to block goalkeeper Braden Holtby. Less than a minute after that, Rickard Rakell managed his own rebound to reduce Washington's lead to two points at the second break.
"We had some disappointments, the building was a little calmer and the game escaped us," Dowd said.
"We sort of stopped playing after 5-1," said Backstrom. "When we were 5-1, we should have been more aggressive than we were. It's our fault. . . . That's what will happen when we return the pucks and give them room on the board. [power play]. "
Sanctions then completed the merger for the Capitals in the third period. Dmitry Orlov was called for consecutive boarding penalties within two minutes, and after Washington's penalty shootout was perfect thanks to 20 consecutive offenses, the team allowed goals in both power play. Anaheim for a draw.
"We missed a blanket," Dowd said. "I mean, we did a good job, we managed to keep the shots out, and then we gave them first class A opportunities. Good players will score points on it. "
Meanwhile, Miller dropped Washington's power play in the third period. The Capitals had two opportunities, including one at 12:48 to take advantage. In the first power play, Ovechkin had three one-shot throws from the left face-off circle that Miller dismissed. Washington did not shoot the ball to second base and, when Ducks striker, Kiefer Sherwood, escaped the penalty spot, Anaheim had the buzz of a weird man, Pontus Aberg scoring the winning goal on Holtby with 5:05 to play. .
Entered Sunday's game, Holtby had recorded a .935 save percentage in 13 appearances since Nov. 1. He then allowed six goals on 25 shots against Anaheim, falling from a high as the rest of his teammates.
"I do not think there's a finger here," said Holtby. "It's hard to keep this game consistent in every game of this league, and tonight, one of those games that makes me humble, humiliates our group. You have to make sure that we keep our foot on the accelerator, keep moving forward. You can not stay at any time against any team in this league. "