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Capitals focused on maintaining momentum

by Adam Vingan

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Despite slogging through the first period of their game against the Colorado Avalanche Sunday, the Washington Capitals seemed poised to stem and perhaps even turn the tide in their favor.

With 4:12 remaining in the second period, Joel Ward took advantage of a fortuitous carom off the end boards to beat Semyon Varlamov to tie the game at 1-1.

Yet it took all of 28 seconds for Washington's half-game of work to come undone. Nick Holden scored the game-winning goal -- his first career NHL goal -- on the ensuing shift as Colorado ultimately secured a 4-1 victory.

"It was a bang-boom-boom play," Ward said of Holden's goal, adding that Holden was his defensive assignment. "For them to come around and score right away, it was definitely a tough one."

Holden's quick-response goal was far from an isolated incident for Washington. Entering their latest meeting with the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday, the Capitals have allowed their opponent to score within 2:30 after scoring themselves 10 times this season. In the nine games it's happened, they are 3-6-0. Half of those goals came within 60 seconds, and seven of them either tied the game or broke a tie.

The Capitals certainly are aware that an unsettling trend is beginning to develop which is preventing them from harnessing any semblance of momentum. To buck that trend, they know they must play a simple game, immediately getting pucks deep in the offensive zone while also remaining even-keeled.

"It's something you don't want to see. I think [the] last two games, they've been scoring at the wrong times," Nicklas Backstrom said, referring to the Capitals' 4-3 shootout loss to the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday where their two-goal lead late in the third period evaporated in 100 seconds. "Especially when we tied it up there against Colorado and they scored on the shift after. It was a little unlucky, but obviously we talked about [how] we've got to be aware after we score, we've still got to play. We can't relax."

Added Ward, whose third line has been the biggest culprit, having been on the ice for five of the aforementioned goals: "Physically most guys are ready to go. Mentally we've just shot ourselves in the foot."

Here are the projected lineups for the Capitals and Blue Jackets:


Martin Erat - Nicklas Backstrom - Alex Ovechkin

Brooks Laich - Marcus Johansson - Troy Brouwer

Jason Chimera - Mikhail Grabovski - Joel Ward

Aaron Volpatti - Michael Latta - Tom Wilson

Karl Alzner - John Carlson

Nate Schmidt - Mike Green

Alexander Urbom - Steve Oleksy

Braden Holtby

Michal Neuvirth

Scratched: Jay Beagle, Eric Fehr, Dmitry Orlov

Injured: John Erskine (upper body), Jack Hillen (fractured tibial plateau)


Brandon Dubinsky - Ryan Johansen - Cam Atkinson

RJ Umberger - Artem Anisimov - Marian Gaborik

Derek MacKenzie - Mark Letestu - Blake Comeau

Sean Collins - Michael Chaput - Jared Boll

Fedor Tyutin - Jack Johnson

Ryan Murray - James Wisniewski

Nikita Nikitin - Dalton Prout

Sergei Bobrovsky

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Nick Foligno (personal reasons), David Savard

Injured: Nathan Horton (shoulder), Matt Calvert (abdomen), Boone Jenner (leg)

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