Washington Capitals: Late Penalties Doom Caps Against New Jersey, Lose 3-2

Barry LeonardAnalyst IIIFebruary 21, 2013

February 5, 2013; Washington, DC, USA;  Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8) skates with the puck against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Capitals were feeling good for most of Thursday night's matchup with the New Jersey Devils. Washington played a solid hockey game for two periods, and Verizon Center was filled with energy. However, a sloppy third period proved costly for the Caps in a 3-2 loss.

After a scoreless first period, Washington jumped out to a lead about midway through the second period on a power-play goal by Mathieu Perreault. Unfortunately for the home team, the lead didn't last long as New Jersey veteran Patrik Elias struck on a short-handed goal just two minutes later.

It was the Devils' league-leading fourth short-handed score of the year.

The Caps took a 2-1 lead into the final intermission after leading scorer Mike Ribeiro notched a power-play goal at 12:40 of the second period.

Though things were looking positive headed into the final period, Washington fell apart, committing costly mistakes and surrendering two unanswered goals. Andrei Loktionov beat Capitals' goaltender Braden Holtby at 9:19 of the final frame to tie the game. Ilya Kovalchuk scored the game winner just two minutes later on a five-on-three power play.

Washington was plagued by mistakes at the end of the game. The Caps were whistled for six penalties within a nine minute span. While most of the calls were questionable at best, the Capitals still need to be more disciplined in order to succeed.

While the Capitals seemed to be improving as of late, winning three of their last four games, Thursday's loss encompasses all that has gone wrong in 2013. Too many penalties, bad luck and a lack of offense  have all played a part in starting the year 5-10-1.

Against the Devils, the Caps were out-shot 37-19, including 15-3 in the third period.

Washington did convert on 2-of-4 of its power play chances and got continued strong play from Ribeiro and Troy Brouwer. Holtby again looked solid in net, stopping 34-of-37 shots, but received little help from his teammates.

These two teams will meet up again in Washington on Saturday.