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POSTGAME NOTEBOOK: Knights 5, Caps 3

Caps lose special teams battle and game, Wilson departs with injury, Ovechkin notches 20th, Vrana nets a pair, more

by Mike Vogel @VogsCaps /

Missed It By That Much - The Caps were 85 seconds away from getting out of Vegas with a point on Tuesday night until an old friend snatched it away. Golden Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt scored on the power play at 18:35 of the third to break a 3-3 tie, and he added an empty-netter just over a minute later to seal the deal in a 5-3 Washington loss.

Schmidt's game-winner came on a shot off the rush, from between the tops of the circles, and it eluded Braden Holtby's glove hand came as the Caps were just 11 seconds shy of killing off a double-minor to Nic Dowd.

"I misread it for some reason, I don't know why," said Holtby. "I'll have to look at it again. I was just reading that the puck would go higher than that, but I don't know. I'll have to look at it again."

Schmidt's first two goals of the season sunk the Caps, sending them to a second straight loss in the opener of a three-game road trip. Since returning to the Vegas lineup after serving a 20-game league suspension, the ex-Caps defenseman has sparked the Knights, much in the way Tom Wilson has sparked the Caps. The Knights were an 8-11-1 team without Schmidt, and they're now 7-2-0 since his return.

Turning Point - Speaking of Wilson, he left the game late in the second period after absorbing a blindside hit from Vegas winger Ryan Reaves, who received a five-minute major and a game misconduct on the play.

The impact of the hit knocked Wilson's helmet off, and his head hit the ice upon landing. He was visibly wobbly as he went off the ice and did not return. According to the Caps, he is day-to-day with an upper body injury, but did accompany the team to Arizona where it will play the Coyotes on Thursday.

Washington led 2-1 at the time of the incident, but the Caps weren't able to muster anything on the power play all night long. Their inability to add to that 2-1 lead with five minutes of power play time ultimately shifted the game in Vegas' favor early in the third. Within minutes of killing off the major, the Knights scored twice in 16 seconds to take the lead.

On the night, the Caps were 0-for-4 on the power play, with just three shots on net in 10:38 worth of time with the man advantage. After a run of 20 straight successful kills at the end of the Caps' recent seven-game winning streak, Washington's penalty-killing outfit was nicked for a pair of power-play goals for the second consecutive game on Tuesday, going 4-for-6.

"There were a lot of things going on, really," says Caps defenseman John Carlson of the team's power play. "We got some good looks, we may have overpassed a little bit, but I think our breakouts weren't as sharp.

"I'm bringing it up every time, so I felt I made far too many bad plays, whether it was a turnover by me or me just putting someone else in a bad spot to turn it over. It just didn't click."

Double Sawbuck - Caps captain Alex Ovechkin scored his 20th goal of the season midway through the second period to give the Capitals a 2-1 lead. Ovechkin's netted his 20th goal in the Caps' 27th game of the season.

Last season, Ovechkon scored seven goals in his first two games but did not reach the 20-goal plateau until game No. 28. The last time Ovechkin reached the 20-goal level in fewer than 27 games was in 2013-14 when he notched No. 20 in the Caps' 22nd game of the season. He finished with 51 goals that season.

Ovechkin becomes the sixth player in league history to score at least 20 goals in each of his first 14 seasons, joining Marcel Dionne, Mike Gartner, Michel Goulet, Jaromir Jagr and Mats Sundin in achieving that feat.

Two For Flying V - Caps winger Jakub Vrana scored a pair of goals in Tuesday's game, the second two-goal game of his NHL career. He now has eight goals on the season.

Five of Vrana's goals have come in the first period of games, and he has scored Washington's first goal of the game a team leading five times this season. Six of Vrana's eight goals have come on the road; only Ovechkin (11) has scored more goals on the road for Washington this season.

Helping Hands - Brett Connolly picked up a pair of helpers in Tuesday's game, running his total to 12 on the season, the same number he amassed in 70 games last season. He is tied for fifth on the team in scoring (16 points) and is fifth in assists as well.

Connolly is now four assists shy of matching his career-high total of 16, a mark he established with Boston in 2015-16.

By The Numbers - Carlson led the Caps with 26:39 in ice time, and he and Ovechkin led Washington with eight shot attempts each … Evgeny Kuznetsov led the Caps with five shots on net … Ovechkin led the Caps with seven hits … Carlson, Matt Niskanen, Michal Kempny and Devante Smith-Pelly each blocked three shots on Tuesday to tie for the team lead … After recording a grand total of 15 hits in their two previous games combined, the Caps had 40 hits on Tuesday, a single-game season high.

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