Sans Alex Ovechkin, Capitals struggle in loss to Senators

Sans Alex Ovechkin, Capitals struggle in loss to Senators
January 21, 2014, 9:45 pm
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Instant analysis of the Capitals’ 2-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators Tuesday night at VerizonCenter:

How it happened: The Senators broke a scoreless tie 12:59 into the second period when Kyle Turris took a quick outlet pass from Clarke MacArthur and sprinted down the ice for a one-timer that appeared to go off the stick of Connor Carrick and between the pads of Braden Holtby. Karl Alzner made an aggressive pinch on the play and got caught chasing Turris from behind. They finished off the scoring with 8:56 gone in the third period when Jason Spezza scored on the Senators’ fourth power play of the night, sneaking a snap shot inside the left post.

What it means: With the loss, the Capitals fell to 22-20-8 and dropped to sixth place in the Metropolitan Division and 12th in the Eastern Conference, two points out of a playoff spot.

Life without Ovi: With Alex Ovechkin nursing a lower body injury, Troy Brouwer took his spot on the top line with Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson. On the power play, Adam Oates opted to go with John Carlson in Ovechkin’s sweet spot in the offensive left circle, with Mike Green at the point, Backstrom on the halfwall, Johansson at the goal line and Joel Ward in the slot.

[RELATED: Grabovski's big hit sparks fight on Tuesday night]

Extra duty for Erat: In addition to playing on a third line with Brooks Laich and Ward, Erat saw time on the penalty kill when Troy Brouwer was sent to the box with a roughing penalty in the second period.

Hit of the night: It’s probably a good thing the glass at VerizonCenter bends like spaghetti noodles. At least if your Kyle Turris. Caps rookie Tom Wilson plowed into Turris with about 5 minutes remaining in the first period, bending the glass toward the first row of seats as the crowd reacted with some hearty cheers.

Young blue line: With Steve Oleksy assigned to Hershey and John Erskine a healthy scratch, the Caps went with more speed and less experience on their third defense pairing with 19-year-old Connor Carrick [10 NHL games] and 22-year-old Nate Schmidt [28 NHL games].

Crowd control: Despite the region’s heaviest snowfall in a few years, VerizonCenter was about half full for the game.

Look ahead: The Caps have a scheduled day off on Wednesday, then return to work on Thursday when they practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. They return to game action Friday night in Newark against the Devils, their first of a five-game road trip that takes them to New Jersey, Montreal, Buffalo, Columbus and Detroit.

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