Capitals loss to Predators stems from two disjointed defensive plays

The Capitals were close to taking a win out of Nashville Tuesday night but two disjointed plays led to their unraveling and an eventual 3-1 loss. Here’s a breakdown of those plays, with quotes and video of what happened and how Washington’s lead unraveled into a tie and then into a deficit so quickly at Bridgestone Arena.

On the shift immediately after Troy Brouwer put the Capitals up 1-0, he pushed the puck out of the defensive zone along the boards and Alex Ovechkin tried to pick up the puck between the benches in the neutral zone. Ovechkin never gained possession. Instead Ryan Suter did, and he turned the play the opposite direction and passed to Mike Fisher.

As the Nashville skaters lined up to enter the offensive zone, you can see in the replay that several Capitals seem to pull up – defenseman John Carlson even points at the linesman – thinking that their foes were offsides.

“Any time there’s kind of a non-structured play the puck kind of bounces around a little bit,” Brouwer said. “I don’t know, a couple guys on our side said it possibly could have been offisdes. I don’t know, it doesn’t matter now.”

Replay shows that the Predators were onsides, and the jump that they had from not letting up at the blueline like Washington helped give them the extra step. Fisher passed to Shea Weber, who skated down the right wing side before making a cross-crease pass to Martin Erat for the goal that made it 1-1.

“I think all the guys on the ice thought it was offsides so they stopped playing and [Nashville] didn’t stop playing,” Coach Bruce Boudreau said. “That’s why you have to play to the whistle. Just looking at the replay, guys were putting up their hands and they stopped skating and they kept coming and that’s why it looked so easy.”

Here’s the video of Erat’s goal:

The play that led to the eventual game winner by Colin Wilson, who had an overall stellar shift to create his own goal, is a little more convoluted. After an offensive push by the Capitals, the puck was dumped in the far left hand corner of the Washington zone. John Erskine went to retrieve the puck but was beat to it by Wilson and lost his stick at the same time.

As Wilson turned back up the boards in addition to Erskine, he drew Dennis Wideman over to his side of the ice and eventually Jason Chimera, the first forward back, as well. All three Capitals were in the left faceoff circle as Erat made a beeline for the goal, where Wilson sent him the puck. Vokoun, left alone to contend with Erat, challenged on the play but the right winger pulled the puck down below the goal line and passed to Wilson who was racing through the slot.

Coach Bruce Boudreau said he thought Vokoun committed “a little early” to Erat but it’s difficult to fault the goaltender completely or exclusively on the play.


Left wing Alex Ovechkin, right, looks up at the scoreboard as Predators players celebrate Martin Erat’s third-period goal. (Mark Humphrey/Associated Press)

Even Erat wasn’t sure what happened to the Washington defense on the play.

“It was two against three. I don’t know what the defense was doing there, and Willy gave me a great puck down low, and I was by myself in front of the net,” Erat said. “Willy was coming he was almost two on zero, I don’t know what happened there, it was just probably their mistake on the defense.”

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