Drawing A Blank - For the first time this season and for the first time since the regular season finale of 2018-19, the Caps came up empty on the scoreboard on Monday night in Columbus. Washington came out on the short end of a 3-0 score as Blue Jackets netminder Joonas Korpisalo stopped all 30 shots he faced and Oliver Bjorkstrand scored a pair of goals.
Caps captain Alex Ovechkin launched nine shots on the Columbus goaltender in the game's first 40 minutes, several of them coming while Washington was on the power play. Perhaps Korpisalo's best stop of the night came on Ovechkin from the slot in the second period when the Finnish netminder snared the legendary sniper's shot from the slot with his glove hand to preserve what was a 1-0 lead at the time.
The loss was the Caps' second to Columbus in a span of eight nights; the Jackets handed the Capitals a 5-2 defeat a week ago in Washington. In both games, the Caps started slowly and found themselves chasing the game the rest of the night.
"For me, the problem was some of our breakdowns on the goals against; those were all detail," says Caps coach Todd Reirden. "They were all detail mistakes, and by the way that I see things, you see sometimes your lack of practice and you lose some of that detail.
"For me in three different situations in particular, two of them are controlled; one's off the face-off and one's off the controlled breakout, and those are situations you should be able to execute and we haven't practiced a ton as a team, and they're able to take advantage of our mistakes."
With eight players on their injured list and having lost three regulars to injury since the previous Monday's meeting between the two teams, the Jackets came out of the gates hungrier than the Caps and grabbed a 1-0 lead midway through the first on an Eric Robinson goal at 11:32. Shots on net were 12-2 in favor of Columbus at that juncture.
The Caps clamped down thereafter, limiting the Jackets to just three shots at 5-on-5 from that point to the end of the second period, but they couldn't solve Korpisalo, who now boasts a 1.07 GAA and a .966 save pct. in his four career appearances against Washington.
"When we had a pass to make," says Caps center Lars Eller, "we put it in the skates or we didn't execute the pass. And then it sort of became broken plays all the time, and then you end up chasing into no man's land. So poor execution was a result of that, and we were just not sharp tonight."
"We get away from the rink [Tuesday]," says Reirden of the coming off day. "Obviously, it's been a great few days with everyone's mentors and we'll have a couple of good practices before going into a [segment of] three [games] in four [nights], but I just felt like our details weren't there on some controlled situations which usually is a real strength of ours."
Fathers And Sons - Monday's game marked the end of another wonderful Mentors' Trip, and it marked the first time the Caps have ever failed to score in 23 Mentors' Trip contests, dating back to the 2007-08 season.
Washington is now 16-7-0 all-time with the dads and mentors in attendance. That computes to a .696 points percentage, which is a fair bit higher than the Caps' overall .594 points percentage in all road games since the outset of the '07-08 season.
Win or lose, it's always a great time and it's always a highly anticipated event for both the players and their mentors.
Metro Woes - With Monday's loss, the Caps slip to 3-3-1 on the season against their fellow Metropolitan Division denizens. Each of Washington's last three regulation losses have come at the hands of a Metro foe, and the Capitals have dropped each of their last three games within their division.
Teeth Dreams - On his first shift of the game, rookie Columbus defenseman Andrew Peeke caught a puck in the mouth and needed to be attended to behind the Blue Jackets net. He departed the game, missing the rest of the first period.
But Peeke's a hockey player, so he returned in the second with a couple fewer teeth than he had at the start of the evening. Playing in his sixth career NHL and his second against Washington, Peeke collected his first NHL point with an assist on Bjorkstrand's second goal of the game in the third period. The 21-year-old Peeke did not get a "plus" on the goal; he went to the bench for a change and was seated when the red light went on.
By The Numbers - John Carlson led the Caps with 26:39 in ice time … Ovechkin led the Caps with nine shots on net and with 13 shot attempts … Garnet Hathaway led Washington with four hits.