Capitals blow lead late, lose to Arizona 2-3

Washington’s hockey team began a four game home stand with a disappointing loss against the Arizona Coyotes. The loss makes it their fourth straight overall and their second consecutive in regulation. An unbalanced effort at both ends of the ice in the final 15 minutes effectively cost them any standings points. The team also endured yet another injury as defenseman Dimitry Orlov became the latest casualty.

The game began with an honest enough effort with Washington earning a 16-10 shot advantage by period’s end. No goals were scored. Orlov’s injury, reported only as a lower body injury, mysteriously occurred sometime in the first period and he did not reappear in the game. In the second period, Alex Ovechkin would score one of his patented left circle slapshots on a power play to give the Capitals the lead. The goal is his seventh of the 2022-23 campaign and gave him sole ownership of the record for most goals with one franchise.

In the final period, Anthony Mantha would increase the Capitals’ lead to 2-0 after recovering the puck after a rebound off the boards. He then spun counter clockwise then put away the backhander past goalie Karel Vejmelka at 3:23.

The team’s notorious lack of ability to not only hold a lead but mount a consistent effort in the third period began. Three minutes after Mantha’s goal, Arizona defenseman Josh Brown scored on a wrist shot. The goal was controversial as winger Christian Fischer appeared to interfere with Capitals goalie Darcy Kuemper on the play. Despite the Capitals’s issuing a coach’s challenge the goal was ruled as being legal.

At 9:45 of the third, Nick Ritchie fired a wrist shot that appeared to hit the crossbar. The initial on ice call was no goal. Once again, the off ice review was not in the Caps favor as the review horn sounded ending live play. The Toronto office then informed the on ice officials of the goal. Replays showed the shot bouncing from the crossbar with enough torque to land behind the goal line.

With the game now tied, the Capitals did not react like a team desperate to win. The disjointed effort included clumsy zone entries and granting the Coyotes an alarming number of chances to score. They finally did with 36 seconds remaining in regulation. Ritchie, in the defining moment of the game, pushed in a rebound that Kuemper did not detect. The Capitals did manage 13 shots on the period but hardly any were of much difficulty for Vejmelka.

The Capitals are now below .500 for the first time this season. In a recurring theme, Orlov has not been evaluated long term as of this posting. Washington’s next game is next Monday against Edmonton. Start time is set for the unusual time of 8 PM ET.

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