For much of the game Thursday, the Capitals looked like the better team than their opponent, the Nashville Predagors. But the Predators were able to force overtime and one mistake ended up giving them the win over the home team.
Evgeny Kuznetsov was on the ice at the start of the overtime period. After about a full minute, he tried to make the quick change, but there was just one problem: Nashville still had the puck.
“The 3-on-3, if the other team possesses the puck, especially if they're standing in the neutral zone, you can't change,” head coach Barry Trotz said after the game. “They're just waiting for you to go to the box and then they're passing it. It's an automatic 2-on-1. … The change ended up creating a 2-on-1. It's the decision to change that created the chance.”
Predators forward Ryan Johansen had the puck in the Caps’ offensive zone, but retreated to the neutral zone when he saw he had no room to work with. He skated near the boards on the side opposite of the benches.
At this point, about one minute had elapsed in overtime. Kuznetsov had been on the ice the entire time.
An average NHL shift is about 45 seconds long. One minute of ice time in 3-on-3 with more space to work with will tire you out pretty quick. With Johansen in the neutral zone away from the benches, Kuznetsov made a break for it to try to make a quick change leaving the left side of the ice wide open.
“When you have the puck, especially 3-on-3, it's all about possession and decisions,” Trotz said. “When you don't have it, you have to be positionally sound and you have to be patient and you can't make poor decisions.”
With Ovechkin skating in pursuit of Johansen and Kuznetsov on his way to the bench, that left two Nashville players wide open with nothing but John Carlson between them and the net. Johansen made the pass to Viktor Arvidsson who skated in behind Ovechkin and the break was on. Kuznetsov immediately turned around before he reached the bench and skated in pursuit, but by then it was too late. You can see the full play in the video above.
Braden Holtby said after the game that he and Carlson “got a little crossed up” leading to Carlson leaning a bit too far towards P.K. Subban who was on the rush and leaving Arvidsson too much room to shoot. Arvidsson took advantage.
But when caught on a 2-on-1, there’s only so much the goalie and defenseman can do. The play that triggered the situation was a poor decision by Kuznetsov who tried to make a break for the bench when the Predators still possessed the puck.
Said Trotz, “We made an in-between decision, they capitalize on it and we're sitting here with one less point than we feel that we could have.”
MORE CAPITALS: Check out the latest edition of the Capitals Faceoff Podcast