Washington Capitals rally, then lose to Ottawa in overtime for third straight defeat

Washington battles back from a two-goal deficit, but loses at home, 5-4, on an Ottawa goal with 19 seconds left in overtime.
By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 31, 2010

With two weeks remaining in the regular season, this is the time of year when the Washington Capitals are supposed to be refining their game in preparation for a potentially deep run in the playoffs. Instead, they're struggling with slow starts, ill-timed penalties and, in the assessment of Coach Bruce Boudreau, "iffy" goaltending.

They were guilty of all three Tuesday against the surging Ottawa Senators, who received a power-play goal from Alex Kovalev with 19 seconds remaining in overtime to send the Capitals to their third straight loss, 5-4, at Verizon Center.

"We played great in the second and third," center Nicklas Backstrom said. "Maybe we are not ready for the first period. We have to. I remember the playoffs last year [and] we weren't ready the first two games. We have to get ready now and play a good 60 minutes. We haven't played a good 60 minutes in a while."

Backstrom was in the penalty box for tripping when the Russian winger scored the decisive goal.

"I was going for the puck," Backstrom said. "It happens and they scored. I was a little bit surprised" by the call.

In addition to a stretch of inconsistent performances, the Capitals had more injury concerns after the game. Rookie defenseman John Carlson left the bench in the second period with an "upper body injury," further thinning a lineup that was already without Brooks Laich (face injury) and others.

"He got a little upper body banged," Boudreau said. "But I'm told he should be ready by Thursday."

Washington's main problems, though, began long before Carlson got hurt and Backstrom took out Kovalev's skates with his stick in the extra session. It started in the first period, which saw the Capitals fall behind 3-1, and ended with them finishing with 21 shots on goal, their lowest total since November 2008.

"We didn't come out ready to play and it hurt us in the end," defenseman Tom Poti said.

Center David Steckel added, "We got better as the game went on, but it's not good enough in the first."

Mathieu Perreault scored his second goal in as many games since being recalled from the Hershey Bears as an emergency injury replacement. The goal came 24 seconds into the third period and gave the Capitals their first lead, 4-3.

That edge didn't last long, however. With Perreault in the penalty box for interference, Jason Spezza scored his second goal of the night -- and Ottawa's second on the power play -- less than five minutes later to knot the score, 4-4. Spezza's shot, taken from the goal line, hit José Theodore (26 saves) before entering the net.

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