Instead, the Capitals gave up a goal 17 seconds in, never led and will return to Washington with the series even at two games apiece after Carolina's 2-1 win at PNC Arena. The setbacks for the Capitals extend beyond the scoreboard.
Forward T.J. Oshie, who was checked into the boards with 5:08 to play, left the ice bent over in pain, his right arm hanging by his side. The injury to his shoulder means Oshie “will not be playing anytime soon,” according to Capitals Coach Todd Reirden. Captain Alex Ovechkin called the hit, which is expected to be reviewed by the league, a “dirty play.”
“I can give you a quick recap of what happened there,” said a terse Reirden, who took issue with Carolina only being assessed a two-minute boarding penalty. “It was a defenseless player that was quite a distance from the boards. It’s an extremely dangerous play, and [Oshie] will not be with our team for a while.”
Carolina forward Warren Foegele, who drove Oshie into the boards, said after the game he was just “trying to lift [Oshie’s] stick, trying to give him a little nudge” and that it was an “unfortunate play.”
The final period was a tense and scoreless 20 minutes, with the key sequence a futile power play from the Capitals stemming from the hit on Oshie. Carolina forward Teuvo Teravainen’s goal with 27.9 seconds left in the second period proved to be the strike that would hold up as the game-winner.
“We don’t have enough right now,” goaltender Braden Holtby said. “We know that, and that’s on our group in here to keep pushing forward, and it’s something that we’ve been able to do a lot. We’re pretty confident in the fact that we’re going to go home and we’re going to put our best game on the ice.”
Last season, the Capitals started their run to the Stanley Cup by overcoming a 2-0 series deficit in their first-round series against Columbus. This season, they're the ones who have squandered a 2-0 lead. Game 5 is Saturday night at Capital One Arena.
After a 5-0 loss in Game 3, Reirden and his players spoke confidently about knowing how to respond in an adversity-filled postseason. They knew they had made mistakes, they said, and they knew how to fix them.
“You never want it to just be smooth-sailing because then when something does happen down the road you don’t know how the group is going to react, so we are got to figure out how to react right now,” forward Tom Wilson said.
Reirden made adjustments to his lines, aiming to get more offensive punch from his bottom six forwards and shuffling some defensemen. Instead, the Capitals’ top line yielded the game’s first goal before some fans had even found their seats. Foegele, who continues to wield a hot stick, finished a three-on-one break by beating Holtby just 17 seconds into the game for a 1-0 lead.
The margin held until midway through the second period, when Ovechkin equalized with his second power-play goal of the series with 9:05 remaining. Ovechkin beat Carolina goaltender Petr Mrazek with his signature one-timer from the left faceoff circle, then faced a Carolina crowd that had been booing him all night and banged both fists against the glass. It was the Capitals' first power play goal since Ovechkin's power play goal in Game 1.
The PNC Arena crowd, eager to make Ovechkin the villain after he knocked out Hurricanes 19-year-old rookie Andrei Svechnikov in a three-punch fight in Game 3, got the last laugh when Teravainen beat Holtby with a riser just before the second intermission.
"We just need a sense of urgency in our game," Ovechkin said. "We had good chances to score, but it's not enough."
The timetable for Svechnikov’s return is still unclear, but he did skate with the team during Thursday’s morning skate. In addition to Svechnikov, the Hurricanes also were missing forward Micheal Ferland (upper body), who left Game 3 early after aggravating an injury from Game 1. Carolina then lost forward Jordan Martinook (lower body) midway through the first period. Martinook came back to the ice with just under two minutes left in the first period but did not return for the start of the second and was ruled out for the remainder of the game.
Despite playing without three prominent pieces on its forward lines, Carolina remained poised, only cracking during Ovechkin’s goal with eight seconds left on the Capitals power play. The Capitals created more shot opportunities in the second period but paid a steep price for a defensive letdown late in the period when Teravainen beat Holtby.
Despite 31 shots on goal in the game, the Capitals could not find the mark in the final 20 minutes and return to D.C. with the series reduced to a best-of-three affair.
“We need to get more desperate,” defenseman Matt Niskanen said.
1. Teuvo Teravainen: Goal plus a team-high three high-danger chances
2. Warren Foegele: Goal plus three shot attempts
3. Petr Mrazek: 31 saves and stopped all seven high-danger shots he faced (five at even strength and two on the penalty kill)
For the first time in the series, the Capitals didn't get outworked in even-strength scoring chances. Instead, they held their own and almost broke even (20 to 21). High-danger scoring chances, on the other hand, were solidly in Carolina's favor, 8 to 5, two of which were goals by the Hurricanes.
Special teams play was a bright spot. Alex Ovechkin did his thing from his office to tie the game and Washington’s penalty kill did its job and held Carolina’s power play to one shot on net while putting three shots on net of their own.
Is that enough to win Game 5? Possibly without T.J. Oshie, who was hurt late in the third period? That remains to be seen but according to WhoWins the team that takes a 3-2 series lead goes on to advance to the second round 78 percent of the time.
Oshie injury seems bad: The injury sustained by T.J. Oshie late in the third period appears to be serious and could sideline the forward for a while, according to Capitals’ Head Coach Todd Reirden.
Given that the Capitals have struggled to find offense outside of their top line, this is not welcome news for Washington. It also figures to amplify the spotlight on whether the hit, a cross check/push to the lower back of Oshie by the Hurricanes’ Warren Foegele as Oshie was approaching the side wall, will warrant a suspension. Expect this to be the main talking point of the series as Game 5 approaches.
End of Period 3: Hurricanes 2, Capitals 1 | It’s tied: The series will move back to Washington tied at 2 as the Hurricanes held off a late flurry from the Capitals to secure the Game 4 victory.
Mrazek’s mad scramble keeps Canes in front: Petr Mrazek made what looked like three saves on rapid-fire shots from point-blank range to keep the score at 2-1 just as the Capitals’ power play was ending. It feels like Braden Holtby will be pulled forthwith for the extra attacker.
Oshie hurt, draws late power play for Capitals: A check from behind by Warren Foegele sent T.J. Oshie into the side boards with 5:08 remaining gives the Capitals what figures to be their best chance to tie the game. That said, Oshie skated off the ice appearing to hold his arm the entire way off the ice and went to the locker room. That will deprive Washington of their “diamond” specialist on the upcoming power play. Oshie typically mans the low slot and provides the short side scoring option if penalty killers favor Alex Ovechkin too much.
Midway through third, still not much going for Capitals: Washington has 27 shots on goal in this game, but none save Alex Ovechkin’s goal and one or two others has felt particularly threatening. The ice conditions are bad and pretty goals probably aren’t happening in the third period. It’s going to require some ugly for the Capitals to snatch a win late in Game 4.
Caps can’t seize momentum to start third: A little over five minutes into the third, it still feels like the final result is up for grabs, however the Capitals’ third line continues to be MIA this series and was just badly hemmed into its own zone on its last shift. Depth scoring was a huge strength for the Capitals last season in they playoffs and they have received almost nothing in that department against the Hurricanes.
End of Period 2: Hurricanes 2, Capitals 1 | Alex Ovechkin has scored 247 power-play goals in his career and another 23 in the playoffs. Just how amazing is that one-timer from the left-handed face-off dot? According to Moneypuck’s calcuations -- which take into account shot type, angle and distance -- Ovechkin’s goal tonight had a 51 percent of lighting the lamp once it left his stick. Warren Foegele’s goal in the first period, by comparison, had a 17 percent chance of making it past Braden Holtby despite being less than nine feet away. Teuvo Teravainen’s score in the second period is a goal 11 percent of the time under similar circumstances. -- Neil Greenberg
Caps yield late goal, yield lead: Just as the tide seemed to be turning towards Washington, Carolina’s Teuvo Teravainen scored with just 28 seconds left in the period to reclaim a one-goal lead heading into the second intermission.
With the ice choppy and scoring chances in short supply, the Capitals will need to come out of the locker room ready to play if they’re going to quiet the raucous crowd and Raleigh and emerge with a win in Game 4.
Canes back to the power play: The Hurricanes have a chance to steal the momentum right back from the Capitals as John Carlson heads to the penalty box for holding at 12:39.
Alex Ovechkin ties it, 1-1: The Capitals captain delivered the game-tying goal, his second of the series, on the power play to knot the score at 1 at the 10:35 mark. He then embraced his new fans in Raleigh through the glass.
Capitals back on the power play: A flurry by the Capitals’ top line led to sustained pressure in Carolina’s zone and a hooking penalty against Teuvo Teravainen at 8:42 of the second period. The question is whether Washington can sustain any pressure on the power play after struggling to get set up on its recent efforts.
Second period begins without Martinook: Despite coming back for the end of the first period, Jordan Martinook is not on the Carolina bench.
It was a bad start, but that’s all it was: Once you get past Warren Foegele’s goal, not much has happened. Unless you count Washigton, while skating into the neutral zone, continually running right into the waiting sticks of Carolina’s defenders because that happened, too.
Carolina is also preventing Washington from getting to the dirty areas of the ice. Evgeny Kuznetsov, Brett Connolly, Brooks Orpik, Jakub Vrana and T.J. Oshie all have produced scoring chances but none have come in the slot or the crease. The Hurricanes, meanwhile, have four high-danger chances from four different skaters, including the goal by Foegele. Three of those high-danger chances came at the expense of Kuznetsov’s line, a line that struggled mightily in Game 3. — Neil Greenberg
End of Period 1: Hurricanes 1, Capitals 0 | The Canes struck early but the Capitals seem to have stemmed the tide a little bit, earning the better of the scoring chances as the period progressed, including a shot from snake-bit Jakub Vrana in the slot that was saved by the stick of goaltender Petr Mrazek.
On the plus side for Carolina, Jordan Martinook has returned to the game, though NBC’s Pierre McGuire commented that he appeared to be laboring on the ice.
Jordan Martinook leaves the game: The Hurricanes may have sustained another loss due to injury as Martinook struggled to get off the ice after appearing to injury his right knee going into the endboards behind the Capitals’ net and colliding with Dmitry Orlov. Martinook could not get off the ice under his own power and went directly down the tunnel to the locker room.
The Hurricanes are already without Andrei Svechnikov and Micheal Ferland due to injuries sustained in this series.
Foegele focus: From the “there’s that man again” file, Warren Foegele is everywhere this game, a continuation of a strong Game 3. Foegele has stepped up this series and the Capitals seem to be having a hard time matching his effort level right now.
Capitals miss a chance to get even: The Hurricanes gifted Washington with an early power play after a too-many-men penalty, but the Capitals could not covert.
That didn’t help: Looking to regain their footing after a staggering blow from Carolina, Jakub Vrana -- recently promoted to the second line -- took a charging minor to put the Capitals shorthanded. Washington was able to kill off the penalty however to stop the Carolina momentum early -- or at least temporarily.
Well, that didn’t take long, 1-0 Canes: The Capitals’ lackluster play in Carolina has carried over into the early moments of Game 4. T.J. Oshie and Matt Niskanen both went to take the body and left the Hurricanes free to break out with a 2-on-1 numbers advantage that turned into a tap-in goal for Warren Foegele 17 seconds into the game to send the Carolina faithful into a frenzy.
We all have our rituals: Players utilize all sorts of methods to get loose and focused before a game. Here’s one, as illustrated by Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson and submitted without further comment because there is literally nothing I can type that will not get me in trouble.
De Haan dresses for Canes: Formerly injured defenseman Calvin de Haan appears to have given the team the green light for Game 4, skating during warm-ups. Head coach Rod Brind’Amour said this morning the team was waiting for de Haan to give them the okay that he was ready to play after missing time with an upper-body injury.
We have a public enemy No. 1 in Raleigh: Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin. He was shown on the videoboard during warmups, which prompted loud boos. Ovechkin isn’t a fan-favorite at PNC Arena after his flight with Hurricanes rookie Andrei Svechnikov led to the latter landing in the concussion protocol. After Carolina’s 5-0 win in Game 3, another lively crowd is expected, but it at least seems like more Capitals fans made it down for this Game 4.
Because the world hasn’t gotten enough Zion Williamson: The Canes have a new celebrity fan and Duke’s Zion Williamson is even sporting a “Bunch of Jerks” t-shirt.
Immerse yourself in the Capitals’ postseason with The Post’s coverage of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.