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Giveaway in overtime lets Senators snap Caps’ five-game winning streak

Senators 4, Capitals 3 (OT)

The Senators' Mark Kastelic crashes into Capitals goaltender Darcy Kuemper and defenseman Matt Irwin in the third period Thursday. (Nick Wass/AP)
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The Washington Capitals were a little more than five minutes from extending their winning streak to six games Thursday night. Then Alex DeBrincat and an almost comical overtime sequence turned a one-goal lead into a dispiriting 4-3 loss to the Ottawa Senators at Capital One Arena.

The Senators winger scored with 5:34 remaining in regulation, then added the winner at 1:31 of the extra period after a pair of Capitals collided, freeing up Claude Giroux for a two-on-zero break that led to DeBrincat beating Capitals goalie Darcy Kuemper. Giroux and DeBrincat took advantage when Washington’s Evgeny Kuznetsov got tangled up with teammate Dmitry Orlov at the Senators’ blue line.

“I don’t know. It was kind of wait, trying to avoid where [Giroux] is going to be,” Kuznetsov said in a somber postgame dressing room. “… So, yeah, it was my mistake, but only dead people don’t make mistakes, right? Unfortunately, that’s how it is. I take responsibility for sure.”

The Capitals, by virtue of a three-goal second period and stingy defense in the third, appeared to be in control before DeBrincat scored the equalizer on an odd-man rush.

Washington’s offense, buzzing in the middle period, failed to ignite in the third. The loss was just the third time in 23 games that the Capitals fell after they scored at least three goals (20-1-2).

“We got away a little bit from why we’ve been having such a good month,” Kuemper said. “It will be easy to recognize and turn things around. Not worried from that standpoint. Got to make sure we are better next game.”

Kuemper finished with 41 saves and is 2-0-1 since he returned from an upper-body injury that sidelined him for nearly three weeks.

The Caps are still surging but now need to fill a John Carlson-sized hole

After a scoreless opening 20 minutes, the Capitals (20-13-5) took control in the middle period. The first goal came when defenseman Erik Gustafsson sent Alex Ovechkin in alone on Senators goalie Cam Talbot (20 saves) with a crisp pass to the Ottawa blue line. Ovechkin made the most of his chance at 1:15, scoring his 23rd goal of the season and his third in three games.

Dylan Strome scored a little more two minutes later, his seventh, on a short-side snipe from the right circle with 3:37 gone. Ottawa (16-16-3) halved the Capitals’ lead with 11:30 left in the period when Jake Sanderson’s shot bounced into the net off Gustafsson.

Kuznetsov restored Washington’s two-goal lead with his sixth of the season at 15:56, stealing the puck in the neutral zone and beating Talbot on an odd-man rush with Ovechkin.

The Senators answered with 15.3 seconds left in the period when Giroux made a diving steal on Trevor van Riemsdyk and set up Tim Stützle all alone in front. The home crowd voiced its displeasure moments earlier after Kuemper was knocked down by Giroux, but no penalty was called.

Here’s what else to know about the Capitals’ loss:

Slow start

The Capitals didn’t register their first shot on goal until 10:04 had elapsed. Ottawa had the first 11 shots on goal and held a 16-4 edge at the end of the first period.

“I think they come out strong,” Ovechkin said. “They have more hits than us, more shots obviously. But was a good thing was 0-0. In the second, I think we control the game most of the time, and in the third I think we just have one chance.”

Last time out: Surging Capitals roll past the Rangers for their fifth straight win

Johansson briefly departs

Forward Marcus Johansson left in the first period with an apparent injury. Nothing noticeable appeared to happen to the forward on his last shift midway through the period, but he talked to the trainer on the bench before he went to the dressing room. He returned to open the second period and took normal shifts the rest of the game.

Oshie, Fehervary inch closer

Forward T.J. Oshie skated in a full contact jersey Thursday for the first time since he suffered an upper-body injury Dec. 17. Oshie was in a noncontact jersey during the Capitals’ optional practice Wednesday. Oshie has played 22 games and notched five goals and six assists.

Defenseman Martin Fehervary has been sidelined since he suffered an upper-body injury Dec. 3. He skated in a full contact jersey for the first time Wednesday and did so again Thursday.

Held out

Center Nicklas Backstrom and assistant coach Scott Allen were placed in the NHL’s coronavirus protocols this week. Allen was not behind the bench for Thursday’s game, and it is unclear when he will be able to resume his coaching duties.

Backstrom had been skating with the team in a full contact jersey in recent weeks, but his sickness led to a pause in training. Backstrom has yet to play this season after he underwent hip ­resurfacing surgery in June.