The matchup: The two teams currently on the outside of the Eastern Conference playoff picture also own the longest losing streaks in the WNBA. One of those skids comes to an end when the Washington Mystics travel to face the New York Liberty on Saturday at 4 p.m. The Mystics (5-20) returned from the Olympic break with a slim chance at a playoff berth. Losing four straight and six of seven since has not helped their cause. Washington sits 4.5 games behind Chicago, currently the fourth and final seed, and four back of New York.The road has not been kind to the Mystics, who have dropped 12 of 13 away from the Verizon Center. However the one victory came at New York immediately before the break, a stunning 70-53 win behind 24 points from Crystal Langhorne. Since then, five straight road losses, four by at least 15 points.The Liberty (9-16), losers of three straight, committed 21 turnovers and shot 32 percent from the field in the previous loss to the Mystics. Cappie Pondexter, the WNBAs leading scorer with 20.7 points per game, averaged 23.5 points in two games against the Mystics this season including 25 in a June win at Washington.Last time out: Holding a two-point lead at halftime, the Mystics lost their way during the second half at Atlanta, outscored by the new-look Dream 51-28 over the final two quarter. Despite playing without the leading scorer Angel McCoughtry, suspended for a team violation, Atlanta gave new head coach Fred Williams his first victory by scoring 24 fast-break points compared to Washingtons eight and opening the fourth quarter on a 10-0 run. We turned the ball over which led to some easy baskets for them, Mystics coach and general manager Trudi Lacey said. The other piece of it is we fouled and got them on the free throw line. When you play with that combination it leads to easy points for the other team.Monique Currie scored a team-high 14 points and Crystal Langhorne had 13 for the Mystics, who have lost their last three games by an average of 16.6 points.Consistent Currie: Since returning from the Olympic break, the Mystics small forward has reached double digit points in six of seven games yet did not tally more than 14 points in any game during that span. Washingtons second-leading scorer on the season (10.7) had seven such outings in 18 games before the break, including a season-high 21 points against Connecticut, but also scored in single-digit scoring seven times. Currie is averaging 11.4 points during the second half of the season along with 1.7 steals.
Nicklas Backstrom forced overtime, but the Caps fell in to the Lightning 2-1 in a shootout.
How it happened: After a scoreless first period, Nikita Kucherov opened the scoring in the second period with a power play goal. The penalty killers were caught low as the puck went to the corner. A failed clear attempt went to Hedman who fed Kucherov at the blue line. With plenty of room to work with, Kucherov unleased a monster slap shot to beat Braden Holtby. Nicklas Backstrom pulled the Caps even in the third period when he called his own number on the power play, sending a wrister from the top of the circle past goalie Ben Bishop. With no winner in overtime, the game went to a shootout where the Caps lost in four rounds after Brian Boyle netted his first ever shootout goal.
What it means: Washington has now lost three straight games for the first time since Feb. 2015. The loss drops the Caps in a three-way tie with Tampa and the Philadelphia Flyers in the final two wild card spots. It was Washington's first loss to the Lightning since Nov. 1, 2014 after a stretch of five straight wins. The Caps have, however, earned at least one point in 12 of their last 13 games against Tampa.
Staying hot: Backstrom's goal was his seventh of the season and first on the power play. Six of those seven goals have come in the last nine games as the veteran center has really stepped up his game in recent weeks. He leads Washington in points this season with 21. Backstrom now has points in 11 of his 1ast 13 games against the Lightning.
Special again?: The power play struggles continued on Saturday as the Caps failed to convert on their first three opportunities of the game, bringing their streak up to 13 straight failed power plays. Then Backstrom finally, finally put the Caps on the board with his game-tying tally in the third period. It was the team's first power play goal since Nov. 25 against the Buffalo Sabres. For the night, Washington went 1-for-6 on the man advantage. Not a good night by any stretch, but the one goal the team did score proved crucial.
Trouble with the law: With two penalties on the night, Alex Ovechkin now leads the team in minor penalties with 10, one more than Lars Eller whose early season struggles were well documented. Ovechkin closed the gap quickly with four minors in the last two games. It's hard to blame him for either penalty on Saturday. In the first period, Ovechkin was tripped and then reached his stick out while on the ice after the puck. Victor Hedman tripped over it and Ovechkin received the only call. In the second period, Ovechkin slashed Hedman to try to break up a scoring opportunity. Even if you want to absolve him of both penalties in this game, however, the fact that he new leads the team is not what you want to see from the team's biggest offensive weapon.
Blanked: With Backstrom's third-period goal, the Caps avoided being shutout in consecutive games for the first time since March 2-4 of 2012. At that time, Dale Hunter was the head coach. To say that offense wasn't Hunter's top priority would be an understatement.
Look ahead: The Caps return home for a brief two-game homestand starting on Monday against the Buffalo Sabres. They host the Boston Bruins on Wednesday and then reacquaint themselves with the Sabres on Friday, this time in Buffalo.
Sometimes when shopping online you could make a mistake and buy a shirt in the wrong size or wrong color. It happens. These fans happened to buy tickets to the wrong college football championship game.
Mixing up the ACC and AAC Championship games seems like it would be pretty easy, and to be honest, I'm surprised it hasn't happened before.
Although, it'll probably be pretty disappointing to miss out on Temple's first conference championship in football since 1967.
Hopefully they enjoy watching two teams they have (probably) zero connection to in Clemson and Virginia Tech, at least the tickets were cheap.