The Capitals' two-game road trip got off to a rugged start as they fell into a two-goal hole in the first period of Tuesday's game against the Predators in Nashville. Washington was in that two-goal crevice before it even recorded its own first shot on net of the night.
Although the Caps came out with some jump in the second period and were able to pull even at 2-2 with a couple of quick tallies early in the middle frame, Nashville needed only 17 seconds with which to regain the lead, and this time the Preds kept that advantage for the remainder of the evening.
Even after Nashville regained its two-goal cushion near the midpoint of the middle period, Washington responded quickly. T.J. Oshie finished off a pretty passing play as the Caps answered exactly 17 seconds after the Predators scored their fourth goal. But Nashville iced the two points with two more goals in the last six minutes of the second period.
"It was a really back and forth," says Oshie. "[The Predators] obviously controlled the whole first period. The second period, I thought we did a good job. The only downside was my penalty and one or two shifts, otherwise I thought we played a pretty good second."
The penalty Oshie referred to was an offensive-zone hi-sticking call on Preds defenseman P.K. Subban, seconds after it appeared that Subban had issued an elbow or a forearm to Oshie's noggin. Eight seconds after the Washington winger was seated in the penalty box, Nashville's Mattias Ekholm scored a power-play goal - the Predators' fourth goal of the period - to make it a 6-3 game.
"They were just finding ways to score," says Oshie of the Predators. "We want to learn from this one, but we know we can be a whole lot better than that, so I'm not too concerned."
Video: Caps 365 | November 14
Whoopsie - Washington turned in an abysmal first period on Tuesday in Nashville, getting whistled for four penalties, getting outscored 2-0 and being outshot 18-4. But as it turns out, Nashville's first goal was a bit of a tainted tally.
The Preds scored that goal on a delayed Washington penalty, but the Caps were adamant that they touched the puck and play should have been blown dead before Craig Smith tipped home Kevin Fiala's point shot at 11:48 of the first.
The normally mild-mannered Matt Niskanen argued vociferously with the officials after the goal, but to no avail.
"Yeah, I was mad," admits Niskanen. "I don't know what it looks like on video, but I clearly played the puck. There should have been a whistle that killed the play right there. [The officials] let it go, and they scored."
"Obviously it's a missed call, but that's not the reason we lost the game," says Caps goalie Braden Holtby. "Even if it's missed, there is lots of stuff that goes in [the net]; you've just got to battle through it. That's their third power play we've given up already [at that point], so we can't blame anything on that.
"That's hockey. Nothing is ever perfect, you just have to battle through it, and next time we have to do a better job."
Caps coach Barry Trotz was asked whether the officials said anything to him in the aftermath of the situation.
"Yeah, they said they missed it," says Trotz. "It doesn't do us any good after they score. Who knows? That's just the way the night went."
Video: Caps Postgame Locker Room | November 14
Back In The Saddle - Niskanen returned to action on Tuesday night after missing the Caps' last 13 games, his longest absence from the lineup in his pro career. He grew more comfortable as the game wore on.
"Things were moving fast for me in the first period," admits Niskanen. "I think it took me at least three or four shifts at five-on-five to get my feel back. I took a penalty because I got walked one-on-one; caught with a bad gap. My timing and feel for the game was a little off.
"After the first, I thought I got much better. My legs felt good and my injury felt good. It was good to be back out there, even if it was in a pretty bad effort by everybody."
Niskanen logged 20:33 worth of ice time on the night. He finished the contest with four shots on net and a blocked shot.
Video: Barry Trotz Postgame | November 14
Man Down - On the night of Niskanen's return, the Caps lost another defenseman to injury. Christian Djoos went down with an upper body injury, and the Capitals say they'll update his status on Wednesday after he's examined further.
Djoos skated just 5:48 over 11 shifts in Tuesday's game, and he did not take the ice at all in the third period.
Six-Pack Attack - Tuesday's game in Music City marked the 26th time the Capitals and Predators have met since Nashville entered the NHL in 1998-99. Nashville's six-goal outburst against Washington is the most goals the Preds have ever scored in a game against the Caps. The Preds scored five goals against the Capitals three times previously, including the last time the two clubs met, which was also in Nashville on Feb. 25 of this year, a 5-2 Washington setback.
Video: WSH Recap: Oshie scores a pair in 6-3 defeat
By The Numbers - Dmitry Orlov led the Capitals with 27:07 in ice time, a single-game career best for him in non-overtime contests … Alex Ovechkin paced the Capitals with eight shots on net, 11 shot attempts and five hits … Brooks Orpik led the Capitals with three blocked shots … Madison Bowey skated a single-game career high of 17:17 … Jay Beagle won nine of 14 face-offs (64%).