Screened Shots Key to Capitals’ Loss

The Capitals lost the second game of a back-to-back set, 4-2, Tuesday night at Capital One Arena against the Minnesota Wild. The Wild scored three of their four goals with a player screening goalkeeper Charlie Lindgren in front of the net. Lindgren believed the Capitals could have won if not for the three screened goals, according to his postgame availability aired on NBC Sports Washington.

Neither team recorded a shot for the first five minutes of the game, and the shot counter read 1-1 over halfway through the first period. Defenseman Martin Fehervary finally broke the scoreless tie with just over a minute remaining in the period. He fed the puck to Alex Ovechkin on the left side and stepped to an opening in the middle of the ice to receive and release Ovechkin’s return pass.

Jared Spurgeon scored for the Wild less than a minute into the middle period. Trevor van Riemsdyk attempted to clear a bouncing puck to the left, but it stayed in the Capitals’ defensive zone. Spurgeon was the first man to the puck. Jordan Greenway, the Wild’s tallest player at 6-foot-6, got in front of Lindgren as Spurgeon wound up and released a slap shot. It was the fourth shot of the game for the Wild.

Dylan Strome reclaimed the lead for the Capitals five minutes into the period with a tip-in goal. Fehervary and Ovechkin recorded assists on the goal to both take home two points. It was Fehervary’s second multi-point game in the NHL.

Minnesota claimed the lead before the end of the second period and stayed ahead for the rest of the game. Jonas Brodin circled the Capitals’ zone and fired the puck past Ryan Reaves and Lindgren with 6:48 left in the period. Then with just under two minutes left, Spurgeon scored his second goal of the game. Brandon Duhaime drew van Riemsdyk to the front of the net to create a two-man screen.

The Capitals had several chances to tie the game and force another overtime in the last 20 minutes. Just a minute in, Erik Gustafsson drew a power play when Joel Eriksson Ek slashed him during a shot attempt in the slot. Though the Capitals did not manage a shot on the man advantage, they fired 14 pucks on the Minnesota net, a game-high shot total for either team. Washington thought the game was tied with 3:41 remaining, but the puck bounced away from the goal line.

Head coach Peter Laviolette pulled Lindgren for the extra skater with two minutes left. Eriksson Ek put the puck in the empty net with 54 seconds remaining to ensure the Wild’s win.

Laviolette made significant changes to the lines compared to the Islanders game. Lars Eller and Nicolas Aube-Kubel returned to the lineup. Aube-Kubel started the game on the first line with Ovechkin and Strome. Nic Dowd, who was injured early in Monday’s game, will be out for at least the next few games. Aliaksei Protas was in the arena, according to reporter Samantha Pell, and will travel with the team on the upcoming road trip.

The Capitals will play the Arizona Coyotes at 9 p.m. Eastern on Thursday, then travel to Las Vegas and Dallas for games Saturday and next Tuesday. The Coyotes have lost nine consecutive games and are second-last in the Central Division.

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