The Capitals of Washington had their opportunity seven minutes from the end. All three goals were scored in the power play, and with Washington at a disadvantage and about to have an advantage over the man, the crowd cheered for the recognition of the moment. But Alex Ovechkin's shot was missed, Matt Niskanen was saved, and then T.J. Oshie also went wide. Another power game of the Capitals at the last minute went just as bad.
In an evening when special teams and goaltending were the center of attention, the Capitals power game was overshadowed by Columbus Blue Jackets in a 2-1 defeat at the Capital One Arena. Goetender Goalender Sergei Bobrovsky was the best player on the ice with 33 saves, and Washington's leaky penalty kill allowed two goals on three power plays in Columbus.
"Right now, we can not seem to kill a penalty," Niskanen said. "In a tight game, this hurts."
What had been an even match in all the facets of the game was reversed in favor of Columbus when defender Dmitry Orlov was called to rough 4:04 in the third period with the game tied. Niskanen's staff broke and a record ended up on the final boards landed on Anthony Duclair's stick next to the net. With Niskanen unable to hinder, Duclair scored from a tight corner, and his goal held for balancing the game.
Columbus came into play with the worst power game in the league, scoring just 11.9% of the time. Washington has allowed four power-play goals in the last three games.
"We seem to be abandoning a goal or two almost every game," said midfielder Lars Eller.
"We have taken a somewhat more aggressive approach," said Niskanen. "We have interrupted a lot of ice games.On the voices, I think we are doing a good job there.We are not spending a lot of time in the area.They are the broken comedies that are turning into a really good possibility and then they bury us. When it's a sort of 50-50 record, a battle in the corner, you're down for a man, so someone is open, but we just have to endure and be harder.If you can not do it in the ice, then maybe you just have to eat some and keep fighting and wait for help, but it looks like the broken comedies are doing us now, not the tic-tac-toe. "
The coach Todd Reirden opted to make a few changes to the team structure, but he revised the short-range game of the Capitals. Washington introduced the new staff there, and also had to play the first 15 games without attacking Tom Wilson, who is serving a 20-game suspension for an illegal check to the head and typically logs a lot of shorthanded minutes.
Even the elimination of penalty by the Capitals lacked two regulars with the team in less than two defenders. John Carlson's blue-liner top is considered day by day with an undetected lower body lesion; he played more than 28 minutes in the Washington match against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday, and Reirden said he is confident that Carlson will play on Sunday against Arizona Coyotes. Carlson had an average 26-minute team to start the season, and with five goals and 13 assists, he was tied to Alex Ovechkin for the second highest number of points on the team.
Veteran Brooks Orpik has missed his fifth consecutive game with an undisclosed downside injury, and he will miss at least five more after Washington awarded him a long-term injured reserve. The team called Aaron Ness and Jonas Siegenthaler from the American Hockey League affiliate on Friday morning, and this last made his NHL debut against the Blue Jackets after an impressive training camp.
The wounds have seen Washington wearing an inexperienced blue line. Christian Djoos, Madison Bowey and Siegenthaler all have less than 100 games of NHL experience, but not allowing a single goal of strength, a bright spot in the loss was that they behaved well.
"I obviously liked Siegenthaler's first game," said Reirden. "I thought he was doing good things, high minutes for Djoos and Bowey, I thought [forward Jakub] Even Vrana was effective tonight, as a young player. Here is what it is in this period of the year, putting them in situations where they can play and see where they are, so you can evaluate their development. "
Washington compensated for his defeated defense by spending most of the first period at the end of Columbus. The Capitals tested Bobrovsky with 15 shots in the first period, but a penalty of interference from Evgeny Kuznetsov at the odds of 15:28 gave a cut to the frame in favor of the Blue Jackets. Oliver Bjorkstrand beat Washington Braden Holtby's glove to bring the 1-0 in the first interval, deflating considering how well the Capitals had played for the entire period.
It was not the last time that the death penalty would burn them in the game.
"It's one of the areas where we've had big changes," Holtby said. "But tonight we beat a couple of comedies that we had already scouted and that we knew about – those are the things we know we can clean up a little bit."