Although they started the game with arguably their best period of the 2019 Showcase Tournament, the Capitals finished the 2019 tourney with a 7-2 loss at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday morning at Ford Ice Center in Antioch, Tenn. The Caps closed the tourney with a 1-1-1 record.
Washington outshot the Bolts 19-6 in the first, dominating in terms of territory and possession. But the Caps missed the net on a couple of early chances, and were also guilty of overpassing at times in the first frame, going into the second all even at 1-1.
Tampa Bay turned the tables on the Capitals in the second, outshooting them 22-9, and scoring four times to blow the game open.
"I thought the first period," begins Hershey coach Spencer Carbery, "out of the six we played before that in the tournament, I told the guys - without going back and looking at the tape - that I thought it was our best period of the tournament. We were a little bit too cute in some situations, where we could have been a little simpler and could have found a shot, but you come out of that period 1-1.
"You hope to carry that momentum into the second, but [the Lightning] just tilted the ice. Now we were back on our heels and they were dictating their game to us. We spent a lot more time in the defensive zone and we obviously started to lose the scoreboard battle as well."
Tampa Bay scored twice in the first 4:16 of the second, and the Lightning scored the game's last four goals overall.
After the Bolts scored first just past the midpoint of the opening period, the Caps answered back just 84 seconds later. Brian Pinho made a good play under pressure in his own end, getting the puck up the wall to Connor McMichael in neutral ice. McMichael carried into Nashville ice on a 2-on-1 rush, patiently surveyed, and opted to shoot. Lightning goalie Matt Greenfield made the save, but Alex Kannok-Leipert came in late and scored on the rebound, tying the game at 1-1.
After the Lightning took a 3-1 lead early in the second, the Caps again responded with a McMichael power-play goal, Martin Fehervary supplying the single assist.
After that, it was all Lightning. The Bolts outshoot the Caps 33-18 over the final 40 minutes. Boris Katchouk and Ross Colton scored twice each for Tampa Bay, as Greenfield (25 saves in 40 minutes) and Clint Windsor (nine saves in 20 minutes) combined to keep the Caps off the board the rest of the way. Beck Warm (32 saves) went the distance in goal for Washington.
Immediately after the game, the Caps headed to the airport for the return trip D.C. On Friday, they'll start training camp ahead of the 2019-20 regular season.
"Through the whole process," says Carbery of the Showcase tourney, "my main focus and objective is to try to show well what they do well. So bring that out of them, try to put them in positions to succeed as a coach, and then secondly, set them up for success next week. Get them ready with some of the concepts and some of the habits they're going to be asked to perform by the Washington Capitals' staff; I want to try to get them a little step up on that. So those are the two things. And winning, yeah, ideally we'd like to win some games. And you've got to do some things that help you win games out here, because that's what management is looking for.
"So that's what I said [to the players]. I think some guys showed really well, showed what they can do in competitive setting, and then also hopefully they take some of the stuff that we learned this week and it translates to the NHL camp."