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How a bad line change cost the Caps in overtime loss to Predators

How a bad line change cost the Caps in overtime loss to Predators

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.

RELATED: Caps fall to Preds in OT, lose fifth of last six

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

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Capitals 2017-18 Breakout Candidate: Brett Connolly

Capitals 2017-18 Breakout Candidate: Brett Connolly

As we skate toward the start of the 2017-18 NHL Regular Season, our CSN Capitals team of Jill Sorenson and Tarik El-Bashir detail and analyze the Capitals roster.

They will take a look at breakout candidates, prospects on the rise, players in need of improvement and a look at the rest of the Metropolitan Division, all leading up to the start of the NHL regular season.

Up first are the Capitals breakout candidates.

First, we previewed Tom Wilson.

Today we are looking at Brett Connolly.

YOU CAN WATCH TARIK AND JILL'S FULL BREAKDOWN OF BRETT CONNOLLY IN THE VIDEO PLAYER ABOVE.

2017-18 CAPITALS BREAKOUT CANDIDATE: Brett Connolly

Position: Right Wing
Age: 25
NHL Seasons: 6 (276 games)
2016-17 Stats: 15 goals, 8 assists, +20 plus/minus

Tarik El-Bashir's Breakout Preview: 
After playing the last three seasons on one-year deals, Connolly finally has a little security after inking a two-year, $3 million contract with the Caps earlier this month.

It’s a hefty raise over the $850,000 he earned last season, and it’s emblematic of the higher expectations that he’ll shoulder in 2017-18.

Connolly’s first season in Washington was a strange one. It began with him sitting out as a healthy scratch, and it ended with him sitting out as a healthy scratch. But in between, the former first round pick was remarkably efficient, scoring a career-high 15 goals in 66 games, while skating fewer than 11 minutes per.

Next season, Connolly’s role and playing time are expected to increase … and so, too, are his numbers.

Jill Sorenson's Keys to Breakout:
1.  Maturity: "He's finally settling in and understands what it means to be a pro hockey player. He feels like this is a good fit for him. He's ready to handle the increased pressure and increased responsibillity."

2.  Comfort Level: "He feels like Washington is where he wants to be. He has a nose for the net, and with that comfort level now with this team, that natural scoring abillity I expect will come through."

Prediction: Total Points
Tarik: 21 goal, 16 assists
Jill: 20 goals, 18 assists

RELATED: TEN BEST CAPITALS PLAYERS OF ALL-TIME

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Capitals 2017-18 Breakout Candidate: Tom Wilson

Capitals 2017-18 Breakout Candidate: Tom Wilson

As we skate toward the start of the 2017-18 NHL Regular Season, our CSN Capitals team of Jill Sorenson and Tarik El-Bashir detail and analyze the Capitals roster.

They will take a look at breakout candidates, prospects on the rise, players in need of improvement and a look at the rest of the Metropolitan Division, all leading up to the start of the NHL regular season.

Up first are the Capitals breakout candidates. The first of the three selections is Tom Wilson. 

YOU CAN WATCH TARIK AND JILL'S FULL BREAKDOWN OF TOM WILSON IN THE VIDEO PLAYER ABOVE.

RELATED: TEN BEST CAPITALS PLAYERS OF ALL-TIME

2017-18 Capitals Breakout Candidate: Tom Wilson

Position: Right Wing
Age: 23
NHL Seasons: 4 (313 games)
2016-17 Stats: 7 goals, 12 assists, 133 penalty minutes

Tarik El-Bashir's Breakout Preview:
After mustering only seven goals in 82 regular season games, Tom Wilson scored three times against his hometown Maple Leafs in the opening round of the playoffs.

Was the offensive outburst a blip, or the start of a trend? The Caps, obviously, hope it’s the latter—and there’s reason to believe it could happen. The 23-year-old former first rounder is entering a contract year but, more important, he’s expected to play a bigger role in 2017-18. Bigger role + better linemates + more ice time = more goal production.

Makes sense, right?

Jill Sorenson's Keys to Breakout:
1.  Health: "This will be only his third season fully healthy. I look at that, from a chronological standpoint as a reason to up his production."
2.  Responsibility: "He would be a good addition on the power play in front of the net. he has that net-front pressence and they like when he plays on a line with Alex Ovechkin."

Prediction: Over/Under 18 Goals
Tarik: 18. Push.
Jill: 21. Over.