Wednesday night, the Caps lost Game Four of the second round to the depleted Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 3-2. While this was an intense game overall, there aren’t many highlights from the Caps side of things, with both goals coming in a span of fewer than two minutes in the second period, by Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nate Schmidt.
In general, the playoffs have been a tale of the impotence of the Caps offense. Once again, they dominated possession, besting the Pens in five-on-five shot attempts by a mark of 56 to 28. But for what feels like the umpteenth time, they couldn’t find the back of the net other than for a short span in the second period. Braden Holtby, while not by any means “to blame,” also continues to not be his elite self (he did have his moments though). While it’s tempting based on the stats to suggest that the Caps have been unlucky, it’s hard to really believe that, knowing the recent history of this team and watching that history repeat itself.
It’s always tough to choose in a game like this, but there were some players on the Caps last night who really did seem to bring it and do their best. The whole second line of Kuznetsov, Marcus Johansson, and Justin Williams had a strong night and were plus-one in goals. Nate Schmidt scored a goal, was plus-two in on-ice goals, and was plus-13 in shot attempts. Overall, those players were difference makers. They were just alone in being so on the Caps’ side of things, and couldn’t make enough of a difference on their own to get the “W.”
The Caps have lost a total of ten playoff series throughout their franchise history in which they led by at least two-games. They have been involved in seven different 3-1 series comebacks, have done so twice themselves and having been the victims five times (two more than the next most victimized team). They’ll have a shot now to do so again, and it’s win or go home for the next three games. We forgive you if you are feeling bleak — last night was as close to a must-win as they come.
Stats courtesy of NaturalStatTrick and Corsica.Hockey.
Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI.
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