“It’s the perfect time to improve, and we cannot be perfect every time so sometimes we have to go through these types of games, you know,” Kuznetsov said. “But I liked the way we responded in the third.”
The Capitals (13-2-4) trailed 3-1 entering the third period before Kuznetsov scored his second goal of the night to trim their deficit to one with 17:37 to play. After several chances throughout the period, T.J. Oshie finally scored the tying goal with 1:16 left in regulation. Oshie appeared to score again with 2:46 to play in overtime, but he was ruled to have been offside following a lengthy review, and the Coyotes (10-6-2) went on score two times in as many shootout attempts against Capitals rookie goalie Ilya Samsonov (32 saves) to win it.
“Bit of a buzzkill there; we thought that we did it,” forward Tom Wilson said. “But that is the way it goes sometimes. . . . It shows the character in the room to be able to come back, and pretty proud of the guys to battle to the end.”
The Capitals still managed to extend their streak of earning at least one standings point to 12 games (10-0-2), in large part thanks to the stellar play of Kuznetsov, who has been playing his best hockey over the past two weeks. Kuznetsov has nine points (three goals, six assists) in his past four games and has eight goals and 10 assists this season.
“It’s always fun when he gets in those modes, to have a front-row seat on the bench and watch,” Oshie said.
Despite their late push Monday, the Capitals were ultimately done in by their inability to finish early in the game. They were held scoreless in the first period, the first time they didn’t score in a regulation period since the third period of their previous loss against the Oilers — a run of 18 consecutive periods. They had multiple high-quality scoring chances, peppering Coyotes goaltender Antti Raanta, who made 31 saves and was stellar throughout, but just couldn’t convert them.
“The first five minutes it felt like our line could have had five goals, but that’s what a goalie’s for,” Wilson said. “We have that privilege on any given night to have goalies that will make big saves, and he made a few big ones for his team.”
The Coyotes got on the board first when Clayton Keller scored with 5:45 left in the first period, and the tenor of the game quickly changed in the second period when the Coyotes scored twice in 35 seconds during the first minute after intermission.
The first of those two goals came only 10 seconds in, when Christian Fischer’s tally was upheld after a review. Fischer’s goal was ruled good after replay showed the puck completely crossed the goal line while it was in Samsonov’s glove. Michael Grabner then scored unassisted on a breakaway to give Arizona a commanding 3-0 lead.
“What we’re going to take away is our first two periods. . . . It was way too sloppy,” Oshie said. “Lot of standing around trying to look for plays instead of skating. There was one line that was doing a lot of skating — one guy mostly, and that was Kuzy, and you saw [the] success he had.”
Kuznetsov gave the Capitals some life with his breakaway score at 8:47 of the second period. The goal was preceded by a stellar play on the other end of the ice by defenseman Nick Jensen, who dived to clear the puck from the Capitals’ crease to prevent an Arizona goal. Kuznetsov got loose on that same sequence to cut the Coyotes’ lead to 3-1.
Kuznetsov’s second goal, early in the third period, came on a backhand from the right side after a shot by defenseman Michal Kempny went wide off the end boards and bounced out to the other side.
The Capitals scrambled to tie the score from there, outshooting the Coyotes 11-6 in the third period. Defenseman Dmitry Orlov drew a tripping penalty on Derek Stepan 5:33 into the period, and Alex Ovechkin had a high-quality chance on the power play off a backdoor setup from Kuznetsov but couldn’t beat Raanta.
With the Capitals’ net empty and an extra attacker on, Oshie broke through on a rebound after Raanta saved an Ovechkin blast, forcing the extra period and salvaging at least one standings point.
“The guys believe,” Coach Todd Reirden said. “They believe they’re never out of a game. Things are going to go south for us. . . . You’re not always going to be at your best. For me, it’s important that you understand that.
“You can’t affect what had happened in the past, and let’s move forward.”
Notes: Capitals forward Richard Panik, who missed 10 games after he was placed on long-term injured reserve Oct. 18 with an upper-body injury, returned to action Monday against his previous team.
Panik started on Washington’s third line alongside Lars Eller and Chandler Stephenson and finished with a plus-1 rating in 10:47. Stephenson was bumped to that line with Carl Hagelin still day-to-day because of an upper-body injury. . . .
The Capitals assigned defenseman Tyler Lewington and center Travis Boyd to Hershey of the American Hockey League.