The defeat snapped their winning streak at eight and was just their third in the past 15 games. It also came on the same night the Winnipeg Jets defeated the Carolina Hurricanes, 4-3 in overtime, allowing them to pull within two points of Washington and the Southeast Division lead.
“Our execution was off. We were just sloppy tonight,” Coach Adam Oates said. “That’s the first time we’ve done that in a long time. We tried to get it going at times, but I don’t think we sustained it enough.”
More concerning than the loss, however, was that top center Nicklas Backstrom didn’t take a shift in the final 7 minutes 16 seconds of the third period.
Backstrom took a Mike Green slap shot off his left arm and Oates said the 25-year-old Swede will be evaluated further Friday. The injury’s timing could be less than ideal for the Capitals, who had finally established a rhythm in their play with a fairly consistent lineup.
“It caught him in the arm,” Green said. “He’s all right, but it definitely gave him a bruise so I hope everything’s okay with him.”
From the opening faceoff, the Capitals sabotaged their own efforts by taking two penalties – Mike Ribeiro for boarding and Green for tripping — in the first 6:22. Washington thwarted both power plays and held the Senators without a shot but largely struggled to establish much in the way of possession.
By the end of the opening period, Ottawa had outshot the Capitals, 11-4, and the visitors appeared to be chasing their foes around the defensive zone. The Capitals were being beaten to loose pucks and struggled to connect on routine passes.
Perhaps the best example came with less than three minutes remaining in the period when Guillaume Latendresse beat Green to an icing touch-up and sent the puck out in front. Martin Erat picked it up, then turned it over, creating a point-blank chance for the Senators’ winger.
“Right away start no emotion,” said Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin, who finished with four shots on goal and a minus-3 rating and had no points for just the third time in the past 19 games. “In that kind of position where they get power play right away, two power plays, they get momentum in the game and they have more, they involved in the game more than us.”
Ottawa came out with the same dominance early in the second period, creating sustained pressure and chances. Kyle Turris put the Senators up 1-0 with 1:15 gone in the middle period with a wrister from the left circle that deflected off Karl Alzner’s stick and slipped under Braden Holtby’s right arm.